The Music of Linkin Park: A Tribute To Chester Bennington

On July 20th 2017, the music world was shaken to the core as news broke that Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington had been found dead in his home.

Over the past few weeks I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not to post some sort of tribute to Chester Bennington; I wondered if people would consider it distasteful. However, seeing as his voice, and the music of Linkin Park, were such a big part of the soundtrack to my growing up, I decided that I wanted to share something – a Linkin Park appreciation post, if you will.

For those of you that are somehow unaware, Chester Bennington, the voice of popular rock band Linkin Park, tragically took his own life last month, just hours after the band released their new music video for ‘Talking To Myself’. Bennington dealt with a lot in his 41 years, including multiple substance addictions, alcoholism, and experiencing sexual abuse at a young age. He died on what would have been, fellow musician, Chris Cornell’s 53rd birthday; a close friend of Bennington who also committed suicide by hanging only two months prior.

When news of Chester Bennington’s death broke I was shell-shocked. I saw Linkin Park trending on Twitter, then I started seeing posts ending in ‘RIP Chester’ and the like. My mouth dropped open and I went straight to Google where I found multiple reports confirming the singer’s death. Even though I didn’t know Chester Bennington, or even meet him, the news really hit me because the music of Linkin Park was a huge part of the soundtrack to my teenage years – they were one of the first bands that really solidified my love for rock music.

When I was around 14 and just starting to listen to rock, one of my friends lent me a Linkin Park album; little did I know that I would play it for weeks on end afterwards. The album was ‘Meteora’. The 2003 release features, now iconic, songs such as ‘Somewhere I Belong’ and ‘Numb’, as well as other favourites of mine including, ‘Faint’, ‘Breaking The Habit’ and ‘From The Inside’.

I really took the band’s music to my heart in my teens; something that I’m sure is true for many who grew up in that same era and identified with the music for whatever reason. I loved their composition of smooth vocals, rap, and raw screams, as well as the emotion that went into their angsty lyrics – lyrics that hit even harder now. It was music that gave so many people, so many ‘outsiders’, something to relate to in one way or another; voicing things that perhaps we as listeners, couldn’t. It brought the ‘outsiders’ in; helping people through their personal tribulations by sharing their own.

However, the haunting thing in light of Bennington’s suicide is where those songs came from. This sentiment is expressed perfectly in the band’s official statement following Bennington’s death: “It was the way you sang about those demons that made everyone fall in love with you in the first place. You fearlessly put them on display and, in doing so, brought us together and taught us to be more human.” Bennington’s wife, Talinda also released a heart-felt statement to Rolling Stone, in which she described her husband as a “bright, loving soul” and said that he is “now pain-free singing his songs in all our hearts.”

And, you only have to glance around to know that Bennington lives on in the heart of many; with tributes flooding in from fans and fellow musicians alike, both online and in the outside world. This love was also shown in that, in the wake of Bennington’s death, there were no less than 26 Linkin Park songs featured in the official UK rock top 40, with every slot in the top 15 filled by a track from the band.

Chester Bennington was many things: The voice of a generation, an icon, a true rock legend. But, away from the crowds, he was also, a son, a husband and a father. Whether you knew him personally, or as a fan of his music, or perhaps even a bit of both, one thing is absolutely certain: he is undoubtedly missed. But, for those of us who carry Linkin Park in our hearts, Chester Bennington will continue to live on through the music.

 

Sophie says: As said, Chester Bennington’s death sent a massive ripple through the music world, and to know that he took his own life is heart-breaking. If you, or anyone you know, is struggling please talk to someone – whether it be a parent, a friend, a teacher, a doctor, or some sort of professional, just know that there are people out there who can help. There will always be someone who will be there for you, and you don’t have to go through it alone.

RIP Chester.

Tuesday Chats: Do I Have The Right To Talk About Music?

Hello everyone, and welcome to a new segment I’ve created called ‘Tuesday Chats’.

‘Tuesday Chats’ is going to be an ongoing series with more of an informal vibe, as I’ve noticed that while my content is becoming more formal and professional, I don’t have many posts whereby I just chat to you and let more of my personality come through.

Because of this, I wanted to incorporate a regular thread where I just talk to you about things that are on my mind. This also breaks things up amongst the reviews and articles which, by nature, have to be very thought out and structured. So, what better way to kick off this series than with something music related (as not all of these posts will be) that has been on my mind for a while, and that is: do I have the right to talk about music?

A few months back, while I was travelling somewhere, I got talking to someone on the journey who turned out to be a musician. He asked me what I did, so I told him that I was between jobs but I run this blog and I’m a qualified music journalist. He then proceeded to ask: ‘so who are you then, to give your opinion?’ His statement, coupled with the tone of his voice, translated into: ‘who is going to care about your opinion, what gives you the right to talk about music?’ and for a minute, I didn’t really know what to say.

I was unsure about writing a blog post about this subject as I didn’t want it to come across as though I was ‘blowing my own trumpet’, but then recently, I saw a video on YouTube that re-inspired me.

Let me just take a second here to introduce you to tattoo YouTuber Treacle Tatts, or Lauren, if you prefer. Describing herself as “your verbally unfiltered friend”, Lauren makes videos, mainly, about tattoos. Nothing more than a tattoo enthusiast – with no official training or notable experience other than being tattooed – Lauren uses her channel to share her love of the art, in the form of sharing her opinions and experiences. At the tail-end of last year, Lauren uploaded a video entitled ‘Do I Have The Right To Talk About Tattoos?’ in which, she shared her reasons for making videos about tattoos and some of the backlash she has received because of it.

Around the 10 minute mark, Lauren asks: ‘Do I have the right to talk about tattoos and tell people what a tattoo should look like?’ to which she answers no and explains her reasoning. That, as well as the title of the video in general, really struck a chord with me as my immediate answer to the question was: yes, why wouldn’t you have the right to talk about it? Especially if it’s something you’re passionate about.

This brings me back to my original point: who am I, an unknown non-musician and self-confessed music obsessive, to critique and give my opinion on anyone’s music? Honestly, it played on my mind for a while, but after thinking about it, there are a few reasons why I have just as much right to talk about music as anyone else.

The first of which being, that I have a BA (hons) degree in Music Journalism. Now, I know how pretentious that may sound, like ‘I’ve been to uni and now I know all’. No, that’s not what I’m going for. All I mean to say is that I chose to go to uni and study Music Journalism for three years, learning how to write good reviews and articles, how to conduct interviews, and really honing my skills as a writer.

Also, you may know if you’ve followed me for a while, I actually set up this blog during my degree as a requirement for one of our assignments. So, outside of classes I was putting into practice what I was learning. I decided to use the platform to create a body of work that I could show to prospective employers when I graduated, so instead of just saying I’m motivated and able to act on my own initiative, they’d see it. Because I enjoyed it so much I would also seek out contribution opportunities, and enquire about artist interviews, in my spare time. As a result I had my first two pieces published in BBM Magazine, as well as had the opportunity to interview some of my favourite artists including, The Summer Set’s Brian Dales, Elissa Franceschi, and Set It Off’s Cody Carson.

It was important to me to have work experience as well as my degree because, fun fact, I was once told that a journalism degree is almost worthless. I went to a university fare during my A-Levels and asked one of the reps about Journalism degrees, to which he replied: “why are you doing a journalism degree if you want to be a journalist? most places want experience, a degree isn’t going to get you a job.” I was stunned. I agree that there’s nothing worse than an arrogant graduate fresh out of university thinking they’re now entitled to a job purely because of that fact, but I still chose to do a degree because I thought if I could have both a degree and experience, it may work in my favour.

In terms of being able to talk technically about music, obviously I learned some terminology over the course of my degree, but something you may not know about me is that I sing. It’s not something I publicise but I enjoy singing and had vocal lessons on and off for three years. Through this, I learned a lot about different techniques and how to use them in your performance to get the best out of your voice. Now when I listen to music, I’m able to identify if someone is straining to hit notes outside of their range, or simple things like not singing with your mouth open enough (which sounds silly, but can actually make a big difference to how you sound.)

Lastly, I feel that I’m ‘qualified’ to talk about music, simply because I have a genuine love and passion for music and the people who make it. I think that if you genuinely enjoy something, you will inevitably find yourself learning more about the subject naturally – therefore becoming even more informed. As I’ve said multiple times before, I’m not a full-time blogger and I don’t get paid for anything you see on here, but music is a huge part of my life and it’s what I’m passionate about. I enjoy talking to people about – and sharing – the music that I love in the hopes of reaching someone who will like it just as much and, at its core, that’s what this blog is about.

I never want to be seen as a know-it-all or unapproachable, I simply hope that my love for music is reflected in my writing and is an accurate representation of myself. Because of this I very seldom give bad reviews. I think there’s enough negativity that exists on the internet – in the form of trolling and things like that – and I don’t see the need to add to it. One of my favourite quotes is: “Be an advocate for what you love instead of bashing what you hate”, and that is exactly the approach I take to blogging. I don’t see the need to write a review that highlights everything I don’t like about a piece of music, I’d rather spend my time talking about the things I do like and being known for spreading love and positivity.

So, do I have the right to talk about music? Yes. Anyone with half a brain will understand that art is subjective, meaning whether or not you like something is based on personal opinion and how it affects you. No one else, you. That is all I try to convey in my blogs; you may not like the music that I like but then again, you might. So, Instead of just saying ‘hey, I like this’, I give an informed opinion telling you my reasons for liking, or disliking, something. My only hope is to reach like-minded music lovers and to encourage people to give things a chance – I’ve been surprised many a time by music that I didn’t think I’d necessarily like.

But honestly, I think that if you have a genuine, deep-rooted love and passion for a subject, and you make it your business to continuously learn and grow your knowledge of it, then you have just as much right to talk about it and offer an opinion as anyone else.

 

As always thank you for reading. What are your thoughts on the subject? Would you rather listen to someone who has all the qualifications in the world but no passion, or someone who is admittedly learning all the time and just loves what they’re talking about?

 

I upload a new blog every week, if you’d like to keep up to date with my upcoming posts feel free to come join me on:

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🙂

*Just in case anyone picks up on this, I’d like to address that Lauren (Treacle Tatts) does have two videos on her channel about Tattoo Fixers that are far from favourable, and if you follow my blog you’ll know that as a viewer, I enjoy the show and I’ve actually been tattooed by one of the featured artists. However, I don’t see this difference of opinion as a problem; I’d hope people can accept that not everyone is going to feel the same about certain things – it’s what makes life interesting. I’m always curious to hear other people’s opinions (which is why I watched her videos on the show in the first place,) it doesn’t stop me enjoying her content and I’m a fan of her candid, down-to-earth personality – she comes across as a great person to hang out and talk tattoos with. A big thank you to her for being cool about me posting this and agreeing to be a reference within the discussion – Thank you Lauren!

Musique Showcase Event (Live Review)

Sunday October 30th 2016

Musique Showcase event featuring Waltzz @ Boxpark Shoreditch, London

Intimate acoustic showcase event brings together unsigned talent and looks to bridge the gap between the artist and industry.

musique

Let’s face it, there’s never really much to do on a Sunday is there – aside from sitting in your pyjamas and watching TV all day, right? Wrong! On this chilly October morning we venture up to London’s Shoreditch (aka the trendy part of the capital) which is playing host to a, relatively new, music event solely for unsigned and emerging talent.

Silver Kid and Shanika Ocean

Silver Kid and Shanika Ocean (© Skins Elliott Photography)

Held in Box Park; the world’s first pop-up mall fashioned out of a shipping container no less, Musique is an acoustic showcase that seeks to “bridge the gap between the artist and the industry.” Hosted by dynamic duo Shanika Ocean and Silver Kid – aptly named after his metallic shade of hair – the event is on track to having a permanent home in this quirky venue.

A number of acts from today’s line-up are no stranger to the showcase, having played on the Musique stage before – including rapper Waltzz, after he landed a guest appearance with friend and fellow artist, Mister Lees. With close to ten acts on the bill the event kicks off pretty quickly, with the majority performing between two and three songs each, including cover versions of popular hits as well as original tracks.

First up is singer-songwriter Harley Nixon, who takes to the stage – despite a pretty moderate foot injury, bandage and all – to perform original track ‘The Fall.’ His soulful vocals drenching the song in smooth R’n’B vibes, and easing the audience into proceedings.

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Waltzz and Luca (© Skins Elliott Photography)

Aspiring rapper Liam ‘Waltzz’ Stewart soon follows suit, accompanied by singer-songwriter Luca Martellotti on guitar and vocals. Both solo artists in their own right, the duo met six months ago and began performing together recently, fusing their respective styles of ‘hip-hop/rap’ and ‘guitar-led pop’ – and it definitely works. The pair open with a re-worked version of Luka’s original song ‘For the rest of my life’; a slower track with a chilled out vibe – Waltzz injecting some hip-hop flair and adding his own twist to it. Next, they pick up the pace with ‘For The Night’ – a track they wrote together – which would make the most discerning listener want to have a little groove in their seat. The pair then finish off with a goosebumps-inducing version of Waltzz’s emotional track ‘Whatever it takes.’ Overall, the two seem to complement each other brilliantly and balance the set really well.

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Talia Mar (© Skins Elliott Photography)

Twenty-year old singer-songwriter Talia Mar graces the stage next. Accompanied by a guitarist, known only as Joe, the pint-sized powerhouse treats the audience to some pitch-perfect originals including ‘Circles’ and ‘Stolen’ – the latter of which was originally released back in June as an Electro track, and also has a music video in the pipeline. (Check out the teaser trailer here.)

Leah McKenzie (© Skins Elliott Photography)

Leah McKenzie (© Skins Elliott Photography)

Big hair and an even bigger personality then fill the room as its Leah McKenzie’s time to shine. The X Factor 2016 contestant won all four judges over with her cover of Birdie’s ‘Wings’, which she demos for today’s audience. She follows this with an original song called ‘Change’. McKenzie strives to project an inspirational, motivational vibe through her music, urging everyone to pay close attention to the lyrics as “there’s a lot of music about sex and drugs, we don’t need to hear that anymore…it’s time to get a bit deeper [with the lyrics.]” Adding later “all of us are going through stuff and when you’re in that moment you just feel like giving up but actually you’re going to get through it…it’s about appreciating the life you’ve got.”

Dee Ajayi (© Skins Elliott Photography)

Dee Ajayi (© Skins Elliott Photography)

Next up its Dee Ajayi – who is the one of the few acts on today’s bill to play a set entirely made up of originals –opening with ‘She Loves Me Not’, a smooth and sultry song born out of a time when the singer felt quite “self-

destructive.” After a slight memory block on the following song she quickly picks things back up, demonstrating the beauty – and reality – of live music in the process. Closing number ‘Your Idea of Perfect’, is sassy and soulful. This, coupled with the solo bass accompaniment, gives the whole set a funky and fresh feel.

Harry Fisher (© Skins Elliott Photography)

Harry Fisher (© Skins Elliott Photography)

Now, if you happened to tune into this year’s season of The Voice UK, then you may recognise this next performer. With his distinctive mop of hair, Harry Fisher participated in the TV talent show as a member of team Boy George – who he is also currently writing with. Opening his set with a cover of Beyoncé’s ‘Sorry’, it is undeniable that Fisher is a powerhouse in every sense of the word. This carries through into his original song ‘Crazy’, and his closing cover of Drake’s ‘Hotline Bling’, with host Silver saying that “people like Harry” are why he loves being a part of this platform. After putting out an album recently, the young talent is now performing anywhere that will have him, adding “[he’s] trying to do things like this all the time.”

Penultimate act Kestra is then called up to the stage to perform her short set of covers from the likes of Beyoncé and Rhianna. She is joined by Harry Fisher for two out of three songs, which starts as a duet but then almost seems to turn into a battle of the big voices. A songwriter since the age of 17, Kestra has written for a host of established artists including The Prodigy – which is no mean feat. However, the young mum – whose daughter is in the audience – has remained humble, stating “there are so many talented people in the world, so it’s a bit like lucky dip.” Well we don’t think her luck’s run out just yet, and with an album due for release next year who knows what’s in store.

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Emily Mutaako (© Skins Elliott Photography)

Bringing the show to a close is Emily Mutaako. Previously known as Emily Grace, Mutaako recently changed her stage name as, as she says, it’s more reflective of her artistry now in terms of her influences and culture. She treats the audience to covers of Amy Winehouse and Lianne La Havas, ending on an original song called ‘You Gotta Learn’, a track which she says is about “overcoming fear.” With an upbeat, and overall great vibe, it’s a brilliant note to end the day on.

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What it’s all about… (© Skins Elliott Photography)

So, if music is your thing and you want to uncover some hidden gems in the industry, Musique is the sort of thing you should check out. Equally, if you’re a performer and you want to get your music out to more people, something like this isn’t a bad place to start.

If I had one criticism of the event, it would be that I think it could benefit from half the amount of acts, slightly longer sets and less cover versions. This would then enable audiences to get a better feel for the artist and what they’re about, rather than hearing karaoke versions of popular hits. Nevertheless, it was really inspiring to see some great emerging talent in such an intimate setting. One thing’s for sure, I will definitely be going again – see you there? 😉

 

If you fancy going along to a Musique event, or if you’re interested in performing, be sure to check them out on Facebook and Twitter, and if you want to check out any of the acts mentioned in this blog all their names are hyperlinked within the review :).

 

All photography (aside from the top photo) is by ©Skins Elliott Photography. For more photos from the day head on over to Facebook, or to check out his work in general go to: http://www.skinselliottphotography.com/

 

As always thank you for reading. I’m blogging every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday throughout November as its ‘National Blog Posting Month’. However, my schedule has gone a bit awry lately as I’ve had a lot going on. To keep up to date with my upcoming posts, come and join me on Facebook & Twitter, and to see what else is coming up throughout the rest of this month, click here. 🙂

Why I Chose To Write About Music.

Ok so I’ll be honest I was a little bit inspired to write this after reading Alex DeLeon’s recent blog post on music, which you can check that out here: http://symphonysoldier.com/
But this subject has always been one that I’ve thought about and is close to my heart, perhaps even more so now considering I’m training to be a music journalist. My love of music is always something I’ve never truly been able to express or define, but I’ll try my best. I’m learning.

I love music. I know that’s pretty over-said nowadays but I truly cannot find another word that encompasses just how I feel about music. Music in my mind is something you can hold close to your heart, it can be that friend to you when you feel at your lowest, but it can also be a painful reminder of the past. Music has helped me through some hard times and there are certain songs I can’t listen to now without smiling (or dancing around to like a child,) and some songs I can’t listen to now period, but music is undeniably a huge part of my life.

I find it amazing that musicians and singers-normal people like you or I- can produce something so simple yet so multi layered that it can affect so many different people in so many different ways. But it happens. It blows my mind how people can put such beautiful melodies together and fit everything like pieces of a puzzle so all the elements of a song work harmoniously with one another. I find it mind boggling that someone elses lyrics, words, thoughts can be articulated so beautifully and can voice a listeners’ own thoughts they haven’t been able to put into words, or capture a feeling you can’t quite put your finger on, and because of this can be related to by an audience so deeply.

It’s funny how something that goes into your ears, something you can’t even see or hold, can help you feel as though you are not alone, can make you believe again, can give you hope. It does all different things for different people and I truly believe that the effect music has on the individual, at least in my case, will never be able to be accurately translated into words as it is the feeling that that music or song or album evokes in you, and it’s yours only and is very hard to explain, unless to someone who maybe shares your opinion on that certain song or album that will understand, and even then you don’t know if what they feel is even close to what you feel. It’s like falling in love, and in a sense it is, falling in love with music, with a band, with an artist, with a song, with an album.

But music also has its flipside and it can be that painful reminder of a memory that you’d rather forget. But saying that, it can be like the therapy you use to help you through that painful memory or time, if you chose to focus on that and take something positive from it instead of dwelling on the negative. I’m not saying music helps every situation, it completely depends on the individual and what helps you and gives you comfort but for me, that has always been music.

I also love the fact that there is no definitive right or wrong in music, there is only opinion. I dislike all the hate that goes around in music now, like if you like a certain band or song people are negative about it. But the truth is music is your opinion, not any body else’s, your own opinion on how that song makes you feel or what it does to you when it enters your ears. Anybody can write a great track. ANYBODY. and I’ve started to really dislike the phrase guilty pleasure (I know I’ve used it on here a few times) because honestly, I’m not guilty about anything I like because I like it for a reason, whether it’s just because it’s catchy or whether it goes deeper and means something to me and I don’t think people should be made to feel bad for liking something that someone else doesn’t.

Music can unite people, and sadly it can divide people too, but it is the one thing that is constant and is a common ground as it is something we’ve all come into contact with and something we all have a certain opinion on, whether it holds a deep connection for you or not.

Music will never be just music to me, it will always be too weighted and mean too much to me to be just anything. It will always hold a special place in my heart as it has always been there, from the feeling you get when someone new comes into your life, to when you start to fall for someone, being in love, the bad breakups, the heartaches, the stressful times when you need a lift…
When you’re walking to a gig and you feel the electricity in the air and you just know you’re all going to the same place, the anticipation you get waiting for your favourite band to take the stage, the goosebumps you get where you hear the crowd chanting along with a song, music is the cause of that. The music has effected people like that.

I will always be thankful to music and to the awesome musicians who make it and have made the songs that have kept me going; always know that you are exceptional. Whether or not you believe that, I do.

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