This week I talk to Guy, a lawyer-to-be who shares with me his eclectic music taste as well as his thoughts on friendships, festivals and the sound of silence
What was your main accomplishment of today?
Deciding what area of law I want to practice when I qualify as a solicitor.
Wow, that’s a biggie.
Yeah. I’m caught between Family and Commercial/Dispute Resolution and need to choose by the end of the week because my law firm want to know where I want to train.
What are your plans for the next year? I’m guessing it’s dependent on today’s big decision…
Finish my legal practice course, get a flat and start as a solicitor. BOOM, adult life complete.
If money were no object what would you be doing?
I would probably travel a little more and then carry on studying. If I was suddenly given unlimited money right now, I’d still continue training as a solicitor; I like the mental discipline of it.
I used to want to be a TV philosopher – like TV historians or scientists – but I’ve become less interested in it as I’ve grown older… I got frustrated by the lack of real world application. Law lets me exercise some of the same skills in language and argument, but has the satisfaction of concrete outcomes as well.
Is music important to you?
Extremely important. I listen to music at least four hours a day on average. The other day I had to walk somewhere without my headphones and it was really weird; I’d forgotten what it was like to be out and about without music being there to provide background.
When I’m at home I have either music or YouTube videos playing or am talking to my friends online. Basically there’s always sound of one sort or another coming in.
So how do you feel about silence?
I don’t dislike it, but you rarely actually hear silence; there’s always some background noise.
The quietest that I’ve ever heard was when I was walking in the desert in Israel. There was nothing. No wind, no animals, nothing. My ears started ringing because they couldn’t pick up any sound.
You hear the phrase ‘deafening silence’, but what you don’t realise is that it is actually loud. It was a slightly unnerving experience.
Can you remember the first music that you properly listened to?
My friend Will played me ‘Surfing with the Alien’ by Joe Satriani. The song is basically consists of a guitar showing off but I remember being blown away by the guitarist’s technical ability. I was about thirteen or fourteen at the time and everything else followed on from that.
Do you think that this moment had implications for other areas of your life?
Yes. Music helps me think… it’s hard to explain it without sounding pretentious, but I tend to think through important decisions in a lot of depth and music helps me to focus. Even if I’m not faced with a big decision, music gives my brain something to do ‘in the background’ and allows me to get my thoughts flowing.
Also, many of my friendships are based on music and the crucial thing that many of my close friends and I share is our love of music.
Why do you think music is such a ‘unifier’ in that way?
I’m not sure that music is always a unifier. Some groups of music fans can be quite inward-looking and almost bigoted to the extent of disliking other genres. While music may be unifying them through shared experience, it’s also drawing a boundary between them. Obviously this doesn’t apply to everyone, but you know what I mean.
So if you like a variety of music types then it effectively lets you share lots of different things with different groups; I can talk to my metal friends about Dream Theater and with my hipster friends about electronica.
What are you listening to at the moment?
A lot of Chrome Sparks. He’s an electronic musician and his sound varies a fair bit. Quite sample-heavy, quite atmospheric. Its fundamentally headphone-music.
I’ve been listening to some old Jamiroquai as well, probably because it’s getting sunny again… can’t beat that groove. The double clap in ‘Little L’ makes my day.
Oh and I’m stilling listening to the new Kanye album because Kanye.
How to you tend to listen to music?
Bluetooth on-ear headphones; since I commute, they’re a godsend. I pretty much only listen to music via Spotify and it’s very rare that I’ll stray outside of it. I usually listen to albums as a whole and Spotify is good for that. Each format has its own place, but the long form of albums is my favourite.
You mentioned earlier how you find music affects the way you think…
Yeah. As in, the right music can put you into a contemplative mood and give your brain something to do while you start to think.
Can you describe the way in which you connect with music?
The element that I care least about is the lyrics; my brain just reads it as another instrumental line. It’s probably why I like post-rock and electronic music.
In terms of what I connect with, it really varies depending on my mood.
Are you a festival-goer?
I’ve only been to Bestival and one other festival but I enjoyed them both. It’s probably not always the best way to experience music though. I’ll usually go to hear the acts that I already like as opposed to finding new music because I don’t want to risk missing an artist whose music I’m a fan of for one I may or may not enjoy.
Are there any festivals you want to go to in the future?
I want to do Glastonbury at some point but I haven’t been able to get tickets yet. Also Primavera Sound in Barcelona always has the absolute best line-ups of any festival anywhere.
Do you play any instruments yourself?
I play a lot of piano and a little bit of bass and guitar
Moving on to some rapid-fire questions: name three albums that changed your life significantly.
‘Systematic Chaos’, Dream Theater – when I was around fourteen my friend convinced me to buy it instead of ‘OK Computer’ by Radiohead. That decision made me a prog-rock nerd for years instead of an indie kid.
‘Discovery’, Daft Punk – it was the first album I ever owned. I never really stopped listening to electronic music after that.
‘Immunity’, Jon Hopkins – for no other reason than I think it is the greatest album ever made (or at least my favourite).
How about three life-changing songs?
‘Sympathy for the Devil’, Rolling Stones – my favourite song. It’s bluesy, it’s swaggery, it’s timeless.
‘All My Friends’, LCD Soundsystem – I listened to this a lot when I was travelling and missed my friends. James Murphy’s songs sometimes have this dual quality of vulnerability and celebration. ‘All My Friends’ hit that perfectly. Its partly about being alone, but its also about, well, all his friends.
‘Let it Happen’, Tame Impala – because if Tame Impala weren’t on here I’d feel like it was incomplete. Also because my girlfriend loves them too.
Describe your current mood with a song.
Phantom (Redux), Shirt – it’s upbeat and groovy and chilled. It’s also cool as f*ck, so, y’know…
Describe in a sentence what music means to you.
It’s not everything but it’s certainly a big chunk of it.