Wow, this got long: Should we separate an artist from their art?

Recently, based on my tendency to indulge my nostalgia and listen to all the rock and emo music that got me through being an angsty teenager in 2007, YouTube threw up a song by Welsh rock band Lostprophets in my Recommended menu. Without thinking I clicked on the video – it wasn’t until the song was nearly halfway through that I realised I maybe shouldn’t be listening to it at all.

(For the uninitiated, the lead singer of Lostprophets, Ian Watkins, was in 2013 sentenced to 29 years’ imprisonment after being charged with a number of monstrous offences, most notably with conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a one-year-old.)

So this got me thinking – should we be separating artists from their art? Is it acceptable to overlook the criminal record of the man who sang one of my favourite songs for the sake of my sentimentality?

My gut instinct says no, of course not. Ultimately, art is an extension of the artist. It’s something they’ve created. In the case of Lostprophets, it doesn’t matter that we the audience don’t know Ian Watkins or any of his bandmates personally, or that our personal experience of their art is heavily influenced by our own memories, thoughts and emotions. Neither of these elements of a Lostprophets album changes the fact that its instrumentals, melodies, meanings and everything else were crafted, and belong to, a convicted paedophile.

Not only that, but to consume the art of any artist (in terms of paying to consume the art) is to show our support of them. That’s just the nature of consumerism – the same could be said for buying a chocolate bar. Whichever chocolate bar you choose, you’re choosing to support that particular brand. You wouldn’t buy something you didn’t like! Especially via monetised streaming services, such as YouTube and Spotify, by listening to a Lostprophets track you are inadvertantly supporting every member of that band, who will receive a payment – no matter how small – per stream or play of their work. There’s nothing wrong with this – the majority of us expect to be paid for the work we do – but when the craftsman has committed such serious offenses, to me it’s slightly uncomfortable to think we’re lining his pockets.

I know this isn’t the end of the discussion. I can certainly see the appeal of the response. For starters, Lostprophets as a band was not just Ian. Through his own charges, to which the rest of the band were allegedly oblivious, Ian Watkins has destroyed the reputation and livelihoods of five other musicians who did nothing wrong. Damning the other five band members for the sixth’s actions might be seen as unfair.

It could also be argued that you can’t switch off your feelings – if a song rouses certain memories or emotions within you simply by listening, you can’t exactly just switch that reaction off. To put it another way, if we’re expected to unlearn the emotions evoked by a piece of art, being expected to unlearn a smell should be no different. The majority of us know that stomach-flipping moment where you catch the smell of the perfume or aftershave worn by the person you like, or the warming, contented feeling that comes with smelling a roast dinner in the oven. I’m not sure I’ll ever be over the smell of bacon sizzling, or the harrowing first note of ‘Welcome To The Black Parade’ by My Chemical Romance. Both evoke an instant reflex. If we should be able to switch off from art – regardless of which of our five senses we receive the art through – why can’t the same be said of other human reactions?

(of course I know our conscience, and what is deemed as a socially acceptable conscience, plays a big part in the expectation to be able to switch off our emotions. I’m just playing devil’s advocate here.)

This is a very poorly constructed argument, I know, and it only really scratches the surface of what I really want to get to the bottom of. I’ve still got so many questions. Why does Justin Bieber have so many devoted followers and worldwide #1 singles when he’s no stranger to antisocial behaviour and disrespectful to his fans? How did Trump become elected as POTUS, for God’s sake, with all the sexual assault allegations and public displays of racism to his name?

Should we separate the artist from their art, if necessary? If we do, does that say more about the artist, or the callibration of our own moral compass?

NaNoWriMo – The Result

It’s the evening of the 28th November, which means in a few days’ time December is going to roll around and the fear of Christmas is going to be instilled into every retail worker, present buyer and Father Christmas roleplayer (I imagine. I wonder how many Santas are sicked on every year? I’m sure it’s more than you’d think.)

Naturally, I didn’t keep up the momentum of NaNoWriMo I started and was so determined to persist with throughout. At about the 1/3 mark, I’d done a hell of a lot: developed this whole host of characters’ personalities and back stories; created a whole fictional city as my setting; not only had I planned the main plot but managed to weave a subplot in there too. It was all going so well.

Then…life happened. I started working 6 day weeks of 40+ hours, using my days off to visit friends in Cardiff and London (for the train journeys foregoing my laptop in favour of a book) and generally just being very tired whenever I had a spare five minutes. I could make excuses all day long as to why I’ve only written about 10,000 words, but that’s the crux of it. I’m just so damn tired all the time, and the looming thought of writing an entire novel was just too much to cope with when an alternative evening involved much simpler, unwinding activities, such as watching a series of The IT Crowd or catching up on I’m A Celebrity…! with a takeaway.

I’m not disheartened though. For the first time in my life, I’ve begun a project that I’m actually excited about and want to see through to the end. I daydream about my characters while I’m steaming away at cappuccino milk behind the bar. I’ve found myself constructing pictures of scenes in my head from turning points in the plot and stringing together exchanges between characters in my head, finding the right words to convey the exact nature of their relationships with one another. I think this means, one way or another, this novel will get written and it’ll be the piece of work I’m proudest of.

So I’m not disappointed. I haven’t exactly won NaNoWriMo, but I haven’t lost either, so I can’t tell if that’s a win-win or not. It probably is. Who knows.

Until next time,

Emma x

The Life of a Twenty-Something || dodie ‘Intertwined’ EP review

Okay before we hop into the review I just want to do a little PSA to let you know I’m now a contributor for MyTrendingStories (it’s clicky, go on!) and this review is my first post over there. I’ll be posting something for them weekly as well as posting here when I can and I’d really appreciate support and feedback for the articles I upload on a Proper Website (ooh ahh scary stuff)

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I don’t know how she does it. With every original song she posts to her channel, YouTuber Dodie Clark manages to create relatable, heartfelt music, with the exact string of lyrics and melodies to hit the nail on the head of how it feels to live through the things she’s singing about. Naturally, when Dodie announced the release of her first EP ‘Intertwined’, I hopped right on the bandwagon and pre-ordered my download straight away.

After its UK release on November 18, I’ve had the EP on repeat. The collection of original songs Dodie has picked for Intertwined is perfect – the end result is a well-rounded, charming insight into how it feels to be muddling through life as a twenty-something, and it’s so refreshing to hear.

Its title track, ‘Intertwined’, shares the tentative, intimate feelings of having a little something with someone and hoping they feel the same but not being quite sure. It’s vulnerable but sincere. I suppose you could say that about the EP as a whole – nothing is amped up to sound too dramatic or extraordinary. Dodie is nothing if not genuine and down-to-earth in her music.

‘Sick of Losing Soulmates’ explores the heartbreak and frustration of losing – or the thought of losing – a best friend; ‘Absolutely Smitten’ is charming and cheerful, encapsulating that butterflies feeling of having a crush who likes you back and all the youthful excitement that comes with it; ‘When’ is a nostalgic longing for when life was easier – perhaps for a time that makes her feel the way Absolutely Smitten sounds. Personally, ‘When’ is particularly hard-hitting. We’ve all been there: those quiet, whimsical moments late at night that see you worrying over the pressure to live the best adult life you can make for yourself and wondering why you can’t trade it all in for the happy, carefree nature of being 16 and your GCSEs being the biggest of your worries.

‘Intertwined’ also includes two interludes which are slightly off-the-wall bursts of character. ‘I Have A Hole In My Tooth (And My Dentist Is Shut)’ documents a real-life experience which pretty much does what it says on the tin. ‘Life Lesson’ is an uplifting contrast to the sometimes raw and emotional subject matter of the EP,  reminding us that even though it can be full of soaring highs and lowest lows, life is best lived to its fullest and the hardship we may face is all part of what makes us human.

What gives Intertwined its richness and depth to me is, having followed Dodie on social media for over a year now, it’s plain to see that the EP reflects her personal development and growth as a person. She’s publically shared her struggles with mental illness and has made no secret of how she indulges in nostalgia. It’s this sort of honesty that just makes the whole thing work so beautifully.

From bedroom uploads of her strumming the ukelele bashfully to polished, lively studio recordings, I’ve loved being on this journey with Dodie and can’t wait to see where she goes next.

Until next time,

Emma x

Living with Joe || Alcohol Awareness Week 2016

Joe is waiting on the front doorstep when you get home from work.

“Good day?” he asks, a glint in his eye.

“I guess so, nothing special,” you reply. You begin to fumble in your rucksack for your keys, but a hand stops you. It’s Joe’s. You look up and he’s smiling wickedly.

“No, allow me,” he says, proudly, before opening the front door to reveal a bombsite. There’s food on the carpet, upturned furniture all over the place and graffiti on the walls. He gestures around the room as you’re left speechless. This is your home. All you want is to sit and relax after a long day.

“What the hell has happened here?” you ask, but Joe is already making work of setting fire to the settee and emptying the kitchen bin all over the floor.

“Deal with it,” he says, definitively. “You’re clearing all this up.” A cushion goes up in flames. “This is all on you.”

* * *

Nobody is really sure when Joe moved in. He just sort of appeared one day, baggage in hand, and made himself comfortable. Bizarrely, your family accommodated him with little fuss – fed whenever he needed it, given all the attention he desired. As obnoxious as you find him, and as much as you hate his presence in your home, he’s just sort of slotted into your life.

Annoyingly, he seems to be wherever you’re going whenever you go out, too. He’s in the supermarket, hiding in the next aisle over ready to jump out when you bump into an old friend.

“Did you hear Emma won the lottery? It’s true! She’s taking all the family on holiday!” His eyes meet yours over the fruit and veg, and he’s got that same infuriating smirk on his face that you see every day. Your friend turns to you, eyes wide with shock, and she’s very excited.

“The lottery? Oh Em, that’s fantastic news!”

You haven’t won the lottery, but now everyone thinks you did. You didn’t even buy a ticket.

* * *

The media’s portrayal of alcoholism and alcoholics, I’ve found, is hideously inaccurate. We tend to see either the extreme cases – Louis Theroux’s doc ‘Drinking To Oblivion’ springs to mind – or the just plain stupid (did anyone else catch that episode of Eastenders where a drunk Phil Mitchell got behind the wheel a construction crane and smashed in his offices?), and that’s it. What we’re not shown is the ordinary, everyday life of a functioning alcoholic, and how it feels to live with one.

My own experience of living with an alcoholic is like living with a Joe. Here’s a few things you may not realise.

1) There’s no on and off switch. When you live with an alcoholic, it’s always at the forefront of your mind – you’re never quite sure what you’re coming home to, and even when things seem okay you can’t relax because you’re wondering how many seconds are left on that ticking time bomb.

2) Alcoholism is entirely separate from the alcoholic themselves. It’s just an illness, an add-on, in the same way a broken leg (or a Joe) is. It can be frustrating, sometimes, to see an alcoholic who falls apart at home put on a positive face out and about when you know that’s not the full story – but that’s why they do it. An alcoholic is not their alcoholism and if they can hide it, then why wouldn’t they?

Finally, and maybe most importantly,

3) if you live with a functioning alcoholic, or are close to somebody who is a functioning alcoholic, your concern is just as valid as it would be if they were pouring vodka on their cornflakes and sleeping rough. It’s okay to feel angry, upset and hopeless, that your efforts simply aren’t enough. It’s okay to seek help, for them AND for you.

It’s Alcohol Awareness Week, and I didn’t feel I could let it pass without sharing my own experience. If you know of anyone struggling with alcoholism, to any extent, I urge you to reach out and offer your support however you can. Even just lending an ear can go such a long way.

https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/alcohol-support-services/

Blind Faith by Ben Elton | Review

I read a really cool book recently. It was hilarious, off-the-wall and a little bit scary – everything a dystopian novel should be.

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‘Blind Faith’ by Ben Elton is fascinating. It follows Trafford, a member of this crazy, futuristic, dystopian London, where every movement is broadcast, privacy is damned and every member of the community worships a God-like figure referred to as The Love.

Trafford’s day-to-day life, on the surface, seems much like our own – he lives in an apartment with his wife and daugther, takes the tube to work and has a passion for learning. Very quickly, however, we learn that the London Trafford lives in is a warped caricature of our own. The city seems to operate on a ‘more is more’ policy, with nobody practising any self control – clothes are unnecessary, food is sickly sweet and comes in mountainous quantities.

Bizarrely, and worryingly, this new London is also entirely void of medical treatment. Infant mortality is at an all-time high, with 1 in 2 children dying before their first birthday. Vaccination is unheard of, and those who vaccinate their children are punishable by death. In Trafford’s London, terminal disease is a symbol of the Love’s protection – the Love takes newborns to protect them and bring them closer to His Everlasting Love.

Trafford doesn’t fit the mould of the times he lives in. He has a lot of questions, to which he desperately needs answers.

There’s two aspects of Blind Faith that have catapulted it so far up my list of favourite books. Firstly, it’s essentially one big philosophical debate, masked in a surreal setting that is so absurd it’s laugh-out-loud funny and propped up on the timeless Creationist/Evolutionist discussion. However, all common sense views are turned on their heads in Blind Faith to build this absurd reality. You think you’ve read the worst, surely it can’t get any more ridiculous than THIS?!, but then it does – and it’s like that for the whole novel.

The other aspect is that, scarily, everything Trafford experiences is so relatable to the world we live in in 2016. Giving children ridiculous names, sharing intimate details of their lives on their blogs and livestreams, blindly following the word of the Love without a second thought (I’m, uh, looking at you, Trump supporters…) rings a little too true with the way in which technology is integrated in our lives at the moment. It’s crazy, and all so, so exaggerated, but the entire time I was reading there was this niggling ‘what if…?’ that I just couldn’t shake.

In summary: LOVED IT. If you like your satire both intelligent and by the bucketload, but also like a book that starts a dialogue and gets you thinking, then Blind Faith is a novel you really can’t miss.

Until next time,

Emma x

NaNoWriMo 2016 – it’s on!

Yep, the rumours are true (literally nobody is spreading rumours Emma, sit down) – I’m giving NaNoWriMo a crack this year, which means, in turn, by November 30th I should (hopefully) have written my first proper novel.

Exciting!

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For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo – or National Novel Writing Month – is an online scheme which runs in November every year. The premise is simple: give up your spare time, your everyday routine and a small portion of your soul and get that idea for a 50,000 word novel that you’ve been sitting on forever written into something to be proud of. The website itself – http://nanowrimo.org – allows you to create a profile in which you announce your novel, update your word count, and generally share your progress with likeminded novelists-to-be. There’s a really cool feature for those who have time to commit their online and everyday life to getting their novel penned, which involves selecting your geographical location and being drafted into meetups in your area to discuss plots, ideas, and hash out any little niggles you might be having with things like character development or creating the perfect setting. I’m routinely receiving emails from the Birmingham group, but living a good hour away and holding down a full-time job at the same time as trying to write means I’m relying on the Twitter community to get me through the long haul!

So, my novel. My novel isn’t the story I originally set out to write. I spent the best part of my summer fabricating a fictional island and a host of characters to write this coming-of-age, YA-style piece in which I shamelessly offloaded all my personal problems and struggles onto this character I’d created. It felt a bit too personal, and I attempted to turn it into a murder mystery, but it wasn’t working for me.

In the past week alone, I’ve started from scratch and I’ve now got my whole plot AND a sub plot in mind. It’s day 2 of NaNoWriMo and I’m already a few thousand words in. I’ve never felt so motivated to write!

In a little writing break a few nights ago I wrote this little blurb, which I’ll share with you all to give you an idea of what sort of thing I’m writing. It’ll by no means be perfect, and I’m not sure the finished piece will ever go further than my own hard drive, but here it is!

Years into the future, a bustling capital city is in the throes of a meteorological movement dubbed the Magna Metum. From the Latin meaning ‘great fear’, the Magna Metum has shrouded the city in darkness, clogged the air with harmful chemicals and invoked a fear of one’s neighbour in each citizen.

Frank Mallory was once the posterchild superhero, whose reputation was left in tatters upon renouncing his powers to start a family. Now a social outcast, estranged from his wife, Frank lives alone in the apartment he can’t afford to maintain, visited only by his former agent-turned-best friend family man Fuzz. Desperate to reconnect with his runaway son, Rover, and to bring back his public image from where it sits in the gutter, could the lead on the cause of Magna Metum Frank has inadvertantly unearthed be the solution to all of his problems?

Happy writing, everyone! If you’re taking part in NaNoWriMo too, I’d love to hear what you’ve got up your sleeve.

Until next time,

Emma x

Stomachaches

Lately, I’ve been having a lot of stomachaches.

Actually, no. Correction – I’ve been suffering with a single constant, grumbling, not-quite-there-but-still-definitely-there stomachache. We’re talking weeks now. It’s just there, roughly a 2/10 on the pain scale – a 3 after a particularly big meal – but there nonetheless.

It flares up with food, sure. To begin with it was with certain types of food: avocado is a big no-no, has been for a year or so; white pasta in big, stodgy bowlfuls drenched in creamy sauce or gloopy cheese tends to set things off. Big meals in general leave a heaviness in my stomach that I can’t actively shift.

Something has happened along the way though, as of late. Now, I can’t really eat anything without feeling the weird purring that I’ve become accustomed to. My appetite is still absolutely in tact – my stomach is appalling, rumbling every few hours – but since this nagging stomachache has settled in and nested, I’ve been less inclined to appease my appetite.

I still do, though. I’ve spent the past few weeks eating reluctantly, only enjoying my meals for the time I’m actually eating them. I hate the aftermath. It’s uncomfortable. I’m not not eating, despite all this. I’m powering through.

As much as this is all what my day-to-day life literally is at the moment – I had my dinner an hour and a half ago and my stomach is still hurting – I suppose it reads as a bit of a metaphor pertaining to my state of mind, my depression and the place I’m at currently. My depression was triggered, or kick-started, by my Dad’s cancer diagnosis. Slowly it’s gathered speed, becoming all-consumed by my Mum’s drinking, a lot of my friends being far away, my professional life not being the post-graduate dream I’d secretly hoped it would be and my self-esteem being in the gutter. Every aspect of my life is tinged by this not-quite-rightness.

Yesterday was World Mental Health Awareness Day. I was delighted to see the subject discussed so openly and frankly on social media. I feel so fortunate to be going through such a seemingly hopeless time of my life surrounded by the positive reinforcement and support of others, be they friends or strangers. It’s refreshing to know and read that, while there’s so many people fighting a personal battle like I am with myself, the way I’m feeling is a perfectly valid illness, not merely ‘who I am now’, and needs to be treated as such.

You wouldn’t leave a chronic stomachache in the hope that it would eventually just go away, would you?

Lately, I’ve been having a lot of stomachaches. I’m also depressed. I won’t be forever.

(on the stomachaches front it could be IBS which may actually be with me forever but that is *not* the point here)

 

(until next time etc.)

Some end-of-2016 personal #goals

With the departure of August and arrival of September (and weirdly an influx of really, really nice sunny weather), we’ve all somehow ended up in the final third of 2016. When did that happen? It feels like I turned 22 literally five minutes ago but there’s nothing literal about it. A figurative five minutes, a literal three-and-a-half(ish) months! So, again, when did this happen?

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Seeing as we’ve not got much of this year left – if 2016 was a pie we’d be fighting over the last few slices – I thought I’d share the little goals I’ve set myself to achieve by the time 2017 (ugh an odd-numbered year) rolls around.

I’m trying to use this blog as more of a personal space than a feed of posts designed to garner likes and followers. Whenever I self-impose any sort of schedule with my blogging, my ability to post *anything* goes out the window because if I miss a time I thought I’d be posting something, I’m hit with a wave of what I’ve learned is called ‘catastrophic thinking’ – a snowball effect of taunts which, in this case, are along the lines of ‘you’re not a good enough blogger!’ ‘who cares anyway?’ ‘you want to go into publishing and can’t even blog about books?’ ‘can’t even READ the books you’ve bought?’ ‘cuh’ et cetera et cetera, so on and so forth.

So that’s my first goal: blog more, on more of an ad hoc basis, about the things I want to talk about. Not every post has to be polished and include big flashy photos, either. I ain’t no photographer, at least not at the moment, and the thought of ‘not producing content that’s as pleasing as any other ‘proper’ blogger’s efforts’ actually being something that’s putting me off doing something I really enjoy is stupid.

My other goals are as follows:

– carry on with the uke. Since I last checked in, I’ve learned 9 chords and gotten so much better at strumming confidently. I can now change between chords pretty smoothly, and occasionally I can do so without twanging the strings (there’s still a loooot of twanging, though). By the end of the year I’d like to master some different strumming patterns, learn a few lil songs and maybe also learn how to tune the bloody thing. Baby steps.

– get involved with NaNoWriMo to some extent, and maybe even come out the other side of it with a novel under my belt. It’s not going to be the next Harry Potter, and it’ll probaby be full of plot holes, but it’ll be mine and it’ll be my first completed piece of work. I’ve already decided my protagonist is going to be this deadbeat, washed-up superhero in need of redemption. Doing NaNoWriMo means I’m going to have to spend from now til October 31st cobbling together my plot, characters and settings, but I’m ready!

– stop prioritising an extra hour in bed on days and mornings off over the gym. In the first half of 2016 I was going to the gym five times a week sometimes, usually four, and I felt so good in myself for it. I had more energy, I felt more accomplished on my days off and I genuinely enjoyed the feeling of working up a huge sweat. I still do! I was also more inclined to eat healthier food. Somewhere along the line this summer I’ve completely fallen out of the habit and I’m back to my sluggish, lazy ways. I know it’s going to be a tougher slog when the temperature drops and the nights start drawing in but I’m determined to become stronger and more energised.

So those are my goals! I’ll check in goalswise at the beginning of next year and see how things are going. I doubt I’ll be a plant-based, ukelele-wielding novelist with killer abs, but this world is full of surprises so who knows?

Until next time,

Emma x

All Good Things

Haven’t blogged in a month. Was recently reminded by my friend Polly that my blog, in her words, is ‘DEAD’. Caps and all. We’re still friends, I promise. It’s been a rocky month at home, but now I’m back to wanting to write again. That’s nice, isn’t it?

Anyway. Things I’ve done since the 12th of July (my last post) include…

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1. The Ukelele
Yes, you read that correctly. I have decided, after months of trying to shimmy myself into a hobby (teaching myself Italian and attempting to re-learn how to knit were among the non-starters), that the tiny guitar usually reserved for YouTube musicians and primary school children will be my weapon of choice. I discovered that Sue Ryder, a UK medical care and support charity, actually sell their own range of beginner’s ukeleles in a variety of colours. I opted for the garish orange model – of course I did, this is me we’re talking about – and with the help of my guitar tutor brother (handy) I’ve started tackling the basics. I’m enjoying it so far!

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2. Read some great books
Since the 12th of July I have finished two books (and I’m currently trying to juggle another two: bit of a Fletcher fest this end, I’ve gone for Billy And Me by Giovanna, and On The Other Side by Carrie Hope). They were both fantastic reads and I’d highly recommend them both!

– the first was I Let You Go, by Clare Mackintosh – a really creepy crime novel that rapidly becomes a psychological thriller that’ll make your blood boil and not want to move until you’ve finished it. Part 1’s a bit slow, but it’s all context and it’s all crucial to the development of the plot – once you hit Part 2 you’ll be on the edge of your seat. This was also a bonus, while I was still in the post-book haze:

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– the second was Dead Famous by Ben Elton, which I bought off the back of watching a ScarfDemon YouTube video (this one, to be exact!). Ben Elton’s writing style is quick, witty and his characters are so well-rounded and likeable. Dead Famous is a parody of Big Brother, written at the time where BB was the talking point of the summer. Elton introduces a cast of wacky housemates, but throws a whodunnit into the mix when a housemate is murdered on day 27 with no recorded evidence. The timeline of events is so cleverly presented in Dead Famous that you’ll be kept guessing right until the final few pages.

3. Bought…a lot of new clothes
I won’t disclose how much I actually spent, because I’m slightly ashamed, but it’s one of the best things I did this month. On a night out a few weeks ago I realised I didn’t have anything to wear that I felt good in. I felt the same a few nights ago heading to a chilled reunion with all but one of my girls, and that night didn’t even require leaving the house. So I did what any girl in a self-esteem crisis would do – took myself off to Birmingham for the morning in my easiest-to-remove pinafore and tried on half the clothes in the Bullring. I came back with six tops, three skirts, two pairs of shoes, a feeling of accomplishment and a depleted bank balance. All in all, good Saturday. If only I now had any money left to go out and look good in the things I bought…

So that’s been my month! I’ve done a lot of hanging out with pals, foaming milk and blending milkshakes, but these are the bits and pieces I’ve done for myself, by myself – something that’s equally as important to feel comfortable doing.

If you fancy checking out the ukeleles – they’re £14.99 each and the proceeds go towards helping critically ill patients and their loved ones when they really need it – you can peruse the whole collection here.

Emma x

The Albums that Changed My Life (yes, we’re going there) (video heavy sorry lol)

This week, in the Knowles residence, we’ve been going through Dad’s mountains of CDs in an attempt to declutter and, eventually, redecorate. We don’t really have visitors to the house much because it’s essentially a contained, yet messy pile of things that aren’t even ours! One thing I’ve learned about my Dad through all of this is that he was a collector, through and through, and a bit of a hoarder to boot.

So, baby steps. I came across some of my old CD collection amongst his, and realised that there are actually a few albums (and singles) that ‘changed’ my life – or at least shaped me into who I am now. It’s been nice and nostalgic to listen to them and let all those old feelings wash over me.

1. The Black Parade – My Chemical Romance
Oh man, this album. Typical melodramatic ’emo kid’ of 2006, TBP was the first album I ever properly connected to and cared about more than just hearing the songs on the music channels. It was my gateway album into the whole emo/rock/pop-punk body of music, which was so different and exciting compared to the ‘chav’ music that most other people at my school enjoyed in 2006 (lol). It also inspired me to dye my hair ketchup red and wear pink-and-black stripy fingerless gloves, but everyone makes mistakes. TBP showed me there can be a lot more to music than the melody you hear, and MCR remain one of my all-time favourite bands for that reason.

2. Made of Bricks – Kate Nash
When Kate Nash first came onto the scene in 2007, I was obsessed. It was actually my Dad who suggested I give her song Foundations a listen, so I went the full hog and bought the album without hearing anything on it beforehand. As well as being an album of great indie-pop, it came out at *just* the right time – I was going through a big teenage transition in terms of my friendships, wanting to dress in crazy colourful clothes and branch out to do more exciting things and make more friends. Made of Bricks helped a great deal with my accepting that it’s okay to be a bit different and quirky, as long as you’re happy and being yourself. I needed that.

3. We Were Here – Joshua Radin
Joshua Radin’s music is so great. It’s a peaceful, quiet night with the fire on, or a walk in the sun with a bit of a breeze. It’s just nice. As a family, we discovered his music while watching Scrubs, after ‘Winter’ was featured in one of the series’ most emotional scenes ever (somewhere in season 3, episode ‘My Screw Up’). Winter is one of my all-time favourite songs. His album ‘Simple Times’ is a big one for me too, as I listened to it religiously before seeing him live in 2008 – and for months afterwards. My go-to artist if I need to just sit the fuck down and relax.

Some other songs that deserve an honourable mention in a post like this:
Just A Song About Ping Pong by Operator, Please – because it’s barmy and this post would not be complete without it:

Harry Rag by The Kinks – for all the ‘living room discos’ I grew up having before bed (this really was our song of choice, at the age of ~6):

What’s My Name? by Rihanna – for giving me the confidence to be the ‘new kid’ at sixth form on my walk over every day:

What If? by Safetysuit – the song that reminds me of fandom. I’m not kidding. My first ship was Kradam and there was a beautiful fan video going round at the time set to that song:

Bubbles by Biffy Clyro – a song I used to help me get over someone that didn’t really help me get over them. It’s a great song though:

Summertime by My Chemical Romance – a song, the song, that I wish was written about me:

Down by Dodie Clark – I’ve only discovered Dodie in the past year or so, but she’s really helping through what I can only describe as the worst time of my life, mental health wise:

Obviously there are many, many more songs and artists that I love, have seen live and been influenced by. These are just a few. Music’s great, isn’t it?

Until next time,

Emma x