Written by Katie Peach, Cre8tiv® Youth Forum
At the age of ten I hadn’t been exposed to a large range of music – my favourite genre was Pop. The first singer I fell in love with was Jess Glynne. I first found her in March 2015, while watching a chart show on a kids’ television channel. She had just reached number one on the official UK chart with Hold My Hand and the show was playing her music video for the song.
I admired her curly hair and thought how similar it looked to mine. Seeing a successful singer with hair like mine was a big deal to the ten year old me, as some kids in my primary school had teased me about my curly hair. I started listening to Jess Glynne religiously, downloaded her album I Cry When I Laugh. Within a matter of days I had memorised all the lyrics to every song!
My love for Jess Glynne and her music influenced me to listen to artists she named in interviews who’d inspired some of her work – Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Mary J. Blige and Amy Winehouse. I started listening most to Amy Winehouse as my family also liked her music.
In November 2016 I went to my first concert to see Jess Glynne at the O2. Watching her perform songs that had soundtracked my
life, songs that I had grown so emotionally attached to, made me fall in love with the idea of being a musician. I vividly remember watching her perform Home and thinking to myself ‘I want to do that’.
In 2017, I discovered the band Bastille. I had heard a song they released with Craig David called I Know You on the radio and I immediately fell in love with the lead singer’s voice. To me it sounded unique and so honest, and I could feel the full extent of the emotion in the lyrics. I downloaded two of their albums – “Bad Blood” and “Wild World.” I was apprehensive at first, not sure if I would like their music as it was less mainstream than what I had previously been listening to, and their lesser-known songs had a more Indie/ Alternative feel to them. However, the main reason I was listening to their music was for Dan Smith’s vocals.
I recall playing Snakes on repeat. At this point in my life I was in a very unhappy place. One of the reasons I liked Bastille so much was that the sentiment in a lot of their songs encapsulated exactly how I felt at the time.
I also began listening to bands that had a similar essence to Bastille such as Panic at the Disco, Twenty One Pilots, and Imagine Dragons. All of these bands used lyrics to explore the idea of being an outsider and feeling different from everyone else, which at the time I deeply related to.
My love for Bastille ran so deep that they began to influence every aspect of my life, from the clothes I wore to the films I watched and even the way I sang. As I mentioned before, Dan Smith’s voice is what first drew me to the band. I liked that he didn’t sing with an American accent, instead keeping his natural British intonation. I soon found myself singing like this too because of how often I listened to Bastille, and now since I’ve started performing in front of people I have found that this aspect of my voice is often remarked on. Bastille played a large role in my finding my voice as a songwriter. The way they told stories through their songs and how they articulated emotions inspired me to start writing my own lyrics. The song that first sparked the idea of writing my own music is Two Evils.
Bastille are experimental with their music in a way that I hadn’t heard before, an example of which being their cover of We Can’t Stop by Miley Cyrus.
They flipped the song on its head and made me realise that when covering a song you don’t have to replicate the original and instead you can play around with it to find a new perspective and possibly alter the meaning. They opened my mind to a wider world of music.
In December 2019 I discovered the American singer Blackbear. I heard his song Hot Girl Bummer on the radio and at first this was the only song of his I listened to but then in January of 2020 I started looking into more of his music.
The first thing that gripped me was the production, as I was just beginning to produce my own music.
The first thing that gripped me was the production, as I was just beginning to produce my own music. I remember copying his song Hate My Guts (skip to 5 minutes, 27 seconds) to learn how to achieve certain sounds with production software. In March 2020 the UK was put into lockdown, and like many others I felt trapped and isolated. I started listening to a lot more of Blackbear’s music to escape my own reality and to live someone else’s life through their music.
I started following Blackbear online and found that I really liked his sense of fashion and overall aesthetic. He is covered head to toe in tattoos, paints his nails, and wears vibrant clothes – this all seemed so trendy and cool. Since we were still in lockdown I began to experiment with my own style, mimicking and taking inspiration from outfits on his Instagram. I found that other Hip-Hop/Rap artists had a similar style and this caused me to explore the genre even more. I began listening to artists such as Machine Gun Kelly, Ian Dior, The Kid Laroi, Trippie Redd, Juice Wrld, and Kid Cudi. I found that I didn’t relate to a lot of their songs but I did enjoy their production and the way they delivered the lyrics as it was very different from what I was used to.
Since starting music college in September I have been exposed to so many types of music I would never have chosen to listen to before. This has been an immense learning curve for me! Previously I would listen to songs that interested me as a vocalist and lyricist, but now I find that I appreciate all aspects of a song. I would define my current music taste as Alternative.
One song that I have had on repeat recently is Cigarette Daydreams by Cage the Elephant. This song makes me feel youthful and safe because a lot of the imagery in it reminds me of summer days with my friends. It’s the kind of song I know that when I’m older I will listen back to and feel nostalgic about my teenage years and the experiences I am having now.
Another song that defines me as a listener is Impossible by Nothing But Thieves. A bandmate of mine recommended Nothing But Thieves and this was the first song of theirs that I listened to. I was taken aback by the impassioned vocals and I fell in love with the heartfelt lyrics. This song is so delicate but at the same time has such power, I can confidently say that it is the most beautiful song I have ever heard. A memory that I have attached to this song is when one of my best friends and I went out at night to look at the view of London, we shared a pair of headphones and I played this song. I remember listening to the lyrics and looking at the city lights and feeling this sense of safety and warmth.
Looking back at my previous taste in music and the three main musicians in my life I can see clearly how they have all influenced me. Jess Glynne is the person who first sparked the idea of wanting to be a singer, Bastille is the band who helped me develop myself as a creative, and Blackbear helped me work out how I would want to be perceived as an artist and the type of aesthetic I want.
Although my music taste has progressed over the years and will continue to do so, I know that each artist I have discussed will always be significant to me and an influence on the music I make. At different stages they’ve played a large role and soundtracked numerous memories.