Saturday, 17 September 2011

My guilty garage pleasure

I arrived home one night last week to find a parcel had been delivered for me, excitedly rushing into my flat I ripped open the packaging to open up the musical purchase I’d ordered online only a matter of days before. A garage CD. And now over a week later I am listening to it. In fact it’s playing on the laptop whilst I type this blog post.

The reason? My boyfriend has been round my flat every evening since then and - although he’ll argue against this point – he really cannot stand garage music. Therefore as he’s just popped out I’ve realised I can now finally get around to treating my ears to my music genre of choice (well one of).

I’m only on track one, but already I am thinking of getting made up, dressed up and getting out to a local bar and club for a night of drinking and dancing. The next track mixes in and I literally get a little flip in my stomach. I am like this nearly every time I listen to garage – whether in my flat, on my mp3 player or in the gym working out.

It’s funny how they say certain senses can trigger memories and feelings within you, and without a doubt music has this effect. I also find I can normally associate different music to different people in my life. In particular, men in my life.

For example, one of the key people that come to mind is one of my first boyfriends – a mixed race guy I met on work experience when I was at school. I remember sneaking to Limehouse to go and meet him with friends on a Saturday afternoon, when I’d tell my trusting parents I was going to look round the shops with school friends in Romford. At this point I guess I was around 14 or so, I’d gone through the phase of listening to more pop style tracks, the Britpop/Indie era and doing dance routines to boybands, by now I was discovering more urban music and this ‘love of my life’ was the guy who got me into R&B.

I still have my first ever Smooth Grooves album by Kiss 100, I would religiously listen to the CD over and over and even now I haven’t tired of many of the songs on there.

As I started to go out in the evenings my tastes expanded again, we were under 18 but like everyone else in school and college liked to go out in our local area for nights out and indulge in some booze and a good boogie. This is when I enjoyed more cheesy tunes and danced on the floor, tables and stage of our local ‘Jaks’ to 80s classics, singing along, following the moves and generally having fun.

After a while most of us in the group preferred to go to clubs and bars, here I enjoyed my dance music and I guess this is also when I first got into garage. Even now I smile remembering dancing with a particular friend of mine in what we described as the ‘podium’ of our local club. I never seemed to tire, just wanting to dance to every song that came on. I always remember what was once called Time & Envy opening – people on stilts, fire-eaters, fire grinders. Me and some of my close friends would go without fail every week to the club, we knew the DJs, some of the bar staff and we loved the music they played, sometimes now snubbing the venues that played more cheesy tracks.

When I went to University I met one of my closest friends and found we shared similar tastes in music, we often text each other now on hearing a song from those days and reminisce. I also met my previous boyfriend, who happened to DJ when he wasn’t studying at Uni or doing his part time job and I got even more hooked on garage. I’ll be honest the guy treated me like rubbish, but I worshipped the ground he walked on and he liked garage so I soon loved it even more. Thankfully our breakup and bad memories of that relationship haven’t impacted on my musical tastes.

Then more recently – well six years ago – I met my current boyfriend and that involved another expansion in my musical tastes. I started going to gigs – no I really hadn’t been to one before him (ha! Well unless you want to include a Blue concert?...No thought not). I got more into rock music (nothing too heavy mind) and as my boyfriend would argue less ‘chavvy’ music, I absolutely love the Foo Fighters now for example. Before meeting my man I hadn’t ever heard one of their tracks.

There are songs that make me sad, those that remind me of people I’d rather forget, tracks that remind me of nights/people I shall never forget, songs from amazing nights out clubbing with friends and Uni days, people’s weddings…I won’t go on, you get the picture.

When music stars set out on their dreams, I imagine they too obviously have former talent that have inspired them. But with the increasing popularity and general number of TV talent shows – Pop Idol, Britain’s Got Talent and of course X Factor – are we moving into a time where most music sounds the same? People miming, being churned out like factory models who all fit the same mould and will make millions for music moguls such as Mr Cowell?

I’ll admit I do indulge in a bit of X Factor if I happen to be at home and have nothing to do, particularly in the initial episodes where all sorts of people are there to audition. However, we all know if they’re a bit different that even if they get put through at first, throughout the show when they do the themed weeks gradually those with something new to offer will drop like flies.

Of late I’ve noticed though these ‘stars’ aren’t lasting as long in the music world or the charts. Are people starting to rebel? Do they want something different? For instance JLS never won the show and have had huge success. I only read the other day that the excruciatingly annoying (sorry!) Leona Lewis has decided to take her own route and veer away from the Whitney-style warbling she pursued at first.

I think it’s important to have a variety of music out there – so people can expand their musical tastes and develop their own music memories. Over the years just some of the selection I’ve seen live are Kasabian, Oasis, Foo Fighters, Take That, Muse, James Blunt, DJ Luck & MC Neat, Faithless, Kaiser Chiefs, Dizzee Rascal, Scissor Sisters, Alanis Morisette and Blue – a real mix, some at festivals, some at huge arenas, others in University venues or in small scale music halls. What’s more I hope to enjoy an even greater selection moving forwards.

I’m going to continue sitting here indulging in my guilty pleasure now and fight the urge to go out and party instead of staying in saving my money and watching the rubbish on TV.

Perhaps I might even do something I always like to do every once a while and flick through a mixture of songs from past and present that are some of my favourites. Who knows what memories I’m about to come across…

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