Monday 29 July 2013

A7: S7 - The Magic of Music

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I've always had an odd relationship with music.

I've never been one to be distraught if caught off-guard without my headphones, or spend endless nights weeping because my favourite band will never know I exist, but music is something which I have a very passionate and tempestuous love/hate affair with.

I know, it sounds ridiculous and contradictory coming from a singer, songwriter and (albeit amateur) musician, but hey, I'm pretty much the mistress of hypocrisy.

I guess I just find it a little bit terrifying and sickeningly fascinating how something with no tangible form or substance can impact the cognitive mind so dramatically, exacerbating and accentuating feelings and emotions to the end of a spectrum which would not seem naturally possible to achieve. In essence - you can't physically touch music, but by god can it touch you.

As a writer, music is a magnificent tool to provide inspiration, instigate imagination and allow the total exploration of the murky depths of what true, raw emotion is, which then enables you to find the words to recreate it believably in the characters which you have imagined.

But as a conscious human being with a very bizarre and complex mind, I find certain music has the ability to push you to the very peripherals of emotional capability, good and bad, and even sometimes unexpectedly take you to places inside yourself that you were unwilling ever to return, or were previously unaware even existed. And sometimes that level of immersion can be absolutely obliterating.

Because it's not just getting lost in the music itself, the corresponding layers of sound created by instruments and voices. It's getting completely lost in your own mind, in the sensation that your brain synthesises in harmony with how you are perceiving what you hear - all of which is completely unique to yourself, and will never be felt by any other soul.

A prime example of this would be Phasing. Music is one of the key factors in the subconscious creation of a phase, for the sole reason that certain songs have the ability to carve great emotionally reminiscent caverns in your mind, that can be easily glossed over once that song is forgotten, but blown wide apart the moment you hear those familiar notes again.

But perhaps Love/Hate is the wrong term. I could never hate music - I don't think anyone ever could. More like Love/Grossly Fascinate.

Because, regardless of the fact, (and actually also directly because of the fact) that it completely messes with my head, my love of music is astronomical. Only ever dwarfed by the level of my utter infatuation with music festivals.

Because music is magical.

What takes place when a group of humans are gathered, eager bodies pressed together under the ambient glow of arena lights, faint specks of rain glittering down from the twinkling night sky, when the throbbing percussive beats begin to roll out across the bobbing heads, and like a thousand waves crashing against the rocky pebbles of a shore, a rippling, spine-tingling cheer erupts from the masses, countless multitudes of people screaming and shouting in one unmistakable echo, all simply unable to contain their anticipation and excitement any longer, then, like an orchestral eruption, in one simultaneous explosion of ecstasy, each harmonising instrument bursts into its own unique melody, weaving and melding perfectly in the air like golden threads spiralling upward into the form of a sonic phoenix, and it soars out across the expanse to greet each and every keen ear, who return the aural embrace with that one, united roar once more, and suddenly all hands are in the sky, desperate fingers stretching up as high as they can to catch any glimpse of the shimmering tailwind left behind by the great golden bird taking flight across the crowd, formed by the creators, the music makers on the stage, who are completely immersed, lost and impassioned by the sheer conviction of their own creation - THAT, that is an experience comparable to NONE.

There is no scientific explanation as why we do that, no evolutionary behavioural pattern or biological pre-disposition to explain why we close our eyes, why we throw our hands up into the sky and stretch out our fingers high above our heads and why we we roar, animalistic and primal, yet completely pure and serene simultaneously. But we feel it inside of our hearts and we just instinctively do it, and we all do it. And that, to me, is magical.


This past weekend, Pistol and I had the absolute privilege, delight and pleasure of accompanying the band 'Escapists' as their VIP guests to RedFest music festival in Surrey. Admittedly, after Glastonbury, our expectations of the small, local festival were not up to much. But I am happy to say that these expectations were entirely blown out of the water, as we ended up having an absolute blast beyond what we could've imagined.

As VIP's (cue internal squeals of girlish excitement) we had access to the exclusive VIP tent and backstage bar. Our Friday night was absolutely ridiculous, comprised of drunken games of Twister on a giant mat while playing bongo drums, free beers brewed by Professor Green and Frank Turner, getting drunk with Enter Shikari, downing tequila shots with the staff, and drunken chats of adventure and silverness with the owner of the festival.

One point I remember distinctly, which just made me beam from ear to ear, was halfway through the night, actually looking around at where we were, who we were with, what was happening, and just how incredible it all was, then Pistol nudging me and saying, "You know, we've got pretty alright lives, huh."

After a miserably hungover Saturday morning start, we headed over to the Main Stage to see Escapists perform their set.

Y'know, I actually wish I didn't like them as much as I do, because my adoration of them probably seems a little contrived in that expected friend-assurance manner.

But you know what, care do I not, because their music is absolutely sublime.

I've never been one to use this blog to promote things, certainly things I didn't really have much conviction in, but click this link and listen while you read on, and you'll understand exactly what I mean.

I've always been a fan of Indie/Alternative music, but the genre has become a bit blurred with bands like Alt-J branching out into a minimalist alternative sub-genre, and the likes First Aid Kit and Of Monsters and Men with their indie-pop hippy charm, and it just seems like there's just one major thing lacking - good-old fashioned indie rock and roll. And for me, Escapists step up to the plate, fill that gap and go above and beyond too.

With Mumford and Sons-style pastorally poetic lyrics, Kings Of Leon-y vocals and empowering percussion and bass reminiscent of White Lies, for me, they pretty much tick every box, and it's almost embarrassing how much I like them.

My favourite track of theirs has to be 'Church Bells'. When I listen, The Clarity makes me imagine a writer in a window of small, ramshackle coffee shop in rainy grey Paris, watching the world as it passes. They make music that belongs in the movies. I also love 'Northern Lights', which gets everyone wailing along to the 'Oooh's whether they can sing or not, and has an adorable music video.

The Escapists are an awesome band and amazing guys, and I am firm in the belief they are going to take the world by storm.

And stood at the main stage of that dinky little festival, blown away by how they effortlessly filled the whole field with their distinctive sound, I felt the same twinklings of what I'd felt at Mumford and Sons at Glastonbury. With Pistol by my side and the sun shining, surrounded by great friends, smiling faces and incredible live music filling the sky, I just felt that pure, golden, radiating happiness. And paired with that, an overwhelming gratitude and sense of pride for the Escapists boys.

The rest of the Saturday was incredible, including having a cute little chat outside the gourmet burger van in the VIP section with BASTILLE FRONTMAN DAN SMITH, (So I said I don't cry over bands, but my god I adore Bastille and my god I nearly lost my shit.) who actually refused to have a picture taken with someone else 'cause he was still talking to me, whichhhhhhhh nearly made me pass away on the spot. Nearly.

I nudged Pistol hard in the ribs as a tall guy in black skinny jeans and a grey hoodie walked over to us and stood next to me. I glanced over and my heart went into overdrive. His arm brushed mine and I knew I had to say something, at least, or forever kick myself.

"What time are you guys on tonight?" Suddenly came out of my mouth before I could think of what to say. He looked over with the biggest blue eyes and a small lop-sided grin.

"If I'm honest with you," He laughed a little, pulling down his hood, ruffling his hair and looking back up at me with a heart-melting gaze, "None of us really have a bloody clue."

... I'll stop there before this post gets too long. But we chatted for about 15 minutes about Glastonbury and Shangri La and some of the other bands we'd seen live. It was unbelievably surreal, and luckily I was just drunk enough to pretend I was cool enough to hold a casual, nonchalant conversation with one of my ultimate idols.

Then we saw Bastille perform and topped off our weekend with two straight hours of partying in the packed out Silent Disco after sneaking in through the VIP entrance.

It was an absolutely incredible weekend, and it really made me think. Glastonbury was an eye-opener to me, another level of multi-sensory magic beyond that already of a music festival, to the point that nothing else could compare. But it's not just about the huge, gargantuan festivals with hundreds of thousands of people. The magic is anywhere where there are people willing to make the music, and people willing to listen.

Being an avid listener, I shall always continue to live for the thrill of life music, but also, being someone which people are willing to listen to too, I shall always continue to be a creator.

And hey, you never know, maybe one day it'll be me up there, on the stage at a music festival, playing my part to construct the golden phoenix. Stranger things have happened.