What are your plans for the next year?
I’m currently finishing up my thesis for my Masters in Wildlife Conservation and tiding myself over with receptionist work. In the next few months I’ll be looking for more permanent jobs that are related to the sector I want to end up in. Hopefully within 6 months I’ll be at least working for the right sort of company, get my foot in the door, and then in a year or two I hope to be working on actual conservation projects.
If money were no object, what would you be up to right now?
I would be tracking big cats in some wooded area somewhere; maybe jaguars in the jungle in South America, some tigers in the Russian far east… with camera traps and monitoring and stuff! Oh and there’d be frequent diving holidays, of course.
How important is music to you?
It’s pretty important. I don’t think I could live without it. Whatever mood I’m in, there’s always something I want to listen to; to dance to when I’m happy, lift my spirits if I’m sad, or even just to wallow in with some loud, emotional rock. I always feel like I need a bit of a soundtrack; I hate silence. White noise and busy public areas are fine but I don’t like the sound of an empty house, so whatever I’m doing I’ll have music playing. It helps me focus when I work and get through boring stuff like cleaning; it generally just gives me a boost when I want to sing and dance.
Can you recall the first music that you properly listened to?
The first thing I remember really being moved by was Green Day, specifically the song, ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’ that I heard the year I started secondary school. Before that I’d buy those ‘Now That’s What I Call Music’ albums and a few singles, but that song was the first that really made me want to hear more from its artist.
So I bought ‘American Idiot’ and it basically defined my teenager years. I went from a trend-follower to a “hipster” then, and that affected who my friends were and what I was into.
How did it affect what you were into?
Mainly it just made me think differently about who I was and the way I lived my life. Like I didn’t have to do certain things or act certain ways to be who I was. So I guess it gave me the confidence to just do me.
What was it about Green Day that captured your imagination?
Listening to them, I felt like, “yeah this is me, this feels right”, instead of just me following what everyone else did… I think that was the main thing. I’d tried so hard to fit in at primary school; I fell out with my friends a lot and had a few friendship groups that never felt quite right, so the whole “I walk a lonely road” thing really hit home. I also liked how the music of that genre itself seemed way more complex than what was popular in the charts and it was impressive that people were playing those instruments.
How much were influenced by your parent’s taste in music growing up? Has that carried through to your adult life?
I wasn’t really that influenced, apart from for being quite into Oasis; I remember ‘Definitely Maybe’ was the album that I first learnt lyrics to because my mum had it. My dad is really into soul and Motown which I really like now, but as I was growing up it never really appealed to me.
l had friends whose parents were really into rock, but I didn’t have that and their taste was influenced by the kinds of rock that their dads had, Queen and older artists, whereas I guess I explored different avenues.
That’s interesting. So do you think that you’re less interested in the rock music popular to that generation than perhaps you would have been if your parents had been big Queen followers, for example? I only discovered that I liked the Beatles recently; neither of my parents are fans.
Yeah I think so. I had a 3 disc ‘air guitar’ album that had quite a few of the oldies on but I didn’t really feel the need to explore those musical avenues because I felt like younger generations’ music was more relatable. Maybe if I’d heard more of the music from that era via my parents I would be more into it. I’m getting into Pink Floyd now and a few more oldies at the moment.
Saying that, my music taste is developing a quite eclectic nature nowadays so maybe I’m bound to find things that I enjoy now that I didn’t before.
What are you listening to right now?
I’m having an Arctic Monkeys phase – I have one every now and then. ‘I Bet That You Look Good on the Dance Floor’ is my go-to for dancing naked in the bathroom, alongside a track by the Andover-based band Echotape called ‘Whiskey Bar’. They played an Oxfam gig that I organised a couple of years ago.
I’m also into Ellie Goulding, Chvrches, Wolf Alice and Warpaint and music that has that kind of “washed-out” vocal sound.
I think my tastes have evolved from heavy rock music to things with a hint of rock in the background; music with softer edge that really chills me out. I also love Kodaline.
What do Echotape sound like?
They’re on the heavier side of Indie; quite a summery sound and always upbeat and fun. They’re definitely worth a look-in. They’re doing a Kickstarter to raise funds to make vinyls of their first album.
On what format do you tend to listen to music?
I listen to the radio quite a bit now because I drive, but apart from when I’m in the car it’s all on my phone. At home I tend to stream from SoundCloud or YouTube, and then download what I really enjoy. Especially because with 4G I run out of data every month!
Listening live is a big part of how I enjoy music too; I went to see Fall Out Boy with some friends last year and I always make time to see my favourites. I’m looking forward to sampling all the talent at this year’s Glastonbury.
On what level do you connect with music? Is there usually a particular element of a song that you pay attention to/enjoy most?
Well first off, I love singing so I like songs with catchy vocal lines. But also like the background music to be quite instrumental, where I can hear the different layers of instruments that are playing. Sometimes I sit and listen to the same song over and over, trying to hear a different layer each time; one time I’ll really listen to the bassline while I sing and the percussion the next time. It’s fun.
I think “obsess” would be a good word to describe my connection with music. If there’s an album that I like then I’ll play it on repeat every time I shower for a few weeks straight.
Can you name three albums that you feel changed your life significantly?
‘American Idiot’, Green Day – duh!
‘Nevermind’, Nivarna – the grungy elements allow me to block everything out
‘Tourist’, Athlete – the lyrics are so deep that they touch me a lot more than most
Same question, three songs.
‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’, Green Day
‘Half Light’, Athlete – that’s the biggest song on the album for me. I heard it when my Granddad died in 2005 and the lyrics seemed to really resonate with how I was feeling; “so when I see you next, we’ll make the most of it” really clicked because I felt like I hadn’t had enough time with my Granddad – or my Nanna who died a few years earlier… “The sun got stuck” – that’s kind of how I felt.
‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’, Guns ‘n’ Roses – I loved it the first time I heard it but became a cemented into my all-time greats after a night in Indonesia when I was feeling very anxious and I went to sit on the pier in the breeze under the stars along with my friends James, Jon and James’ ukulele. While James and I had been playing a lot of Paramore and Rise Against on it, we got Jon to play ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’. Singing quietly and looking out at the stars whilst listening to him play was amazing. Every time I hear that song on a night out I call James up and leave him a voicemail haha! It’s a very special memory.
Okay, now for some quick-fire questions. Where is your favourite place to listen to music?
Outdoors; in the sunshine or under the stars
Describe your current mood with a song.
That’s a hard one. ‘No Regrets’ by Robbie Williams because I just dyed my hair in a kind of reverse-ombre and I love the new colour… I wish I’d dyed all of it now!
Describe in a sentence what music means to you.
Music gives life a backdrop; it’s like the thing that you never knew was missing until you heard it, and then you can’t go back to silence ever again.