Wednesday, 4 December 2013

19 months and 26 days.

London has been my home for the last 19 months and 26 days; it has been the backdrop to the majority of my greatest days and nights and the setting for a handful of my biggest falls. It's the city that still amazes me on a daily basis and also the city that drives me the craziest I've ever been.

When friends ask me "why London?", it's so hard to describe why this city means everything to me. I didn't move here to see my name written in lights, because all I want  is to see my name printed below a published piece of my own writing, whether that be in a newspaper or on a restaurant menu:

London is a greasy kebab shop. 
It's the song shared between the birds and the drunks walking home at 6am.
It's a waiter, calling me ma'am one minute and then asking to 'borrow' a cigarette the next.
London is a used copy of the Metro, sat alone on an empty tube.

It's a packet of metallic green 'Extra' chewing gum.
It's a bar of Terry's Chocolate Orange, eaten in secret as you wait for friends at the train station.
London is somebody following you home at night.
London is "ten Marlboro lights...and a lighter, please"
It's a used condom in the middle of the road.
It's a window left open during the night, wide enough for passersby to hear a couple's moans of pleasure.
London is listening to that couple.

It's two grams of cocaine just to get you through the night.
London is a sleeping tablet, and a dry mouth.
London is a can of Jack Daniels and Coke bought from the newsagents.
It's drinking a shandy on a cool summer's evening.

London is eating calamari overlooking the Thames.
It's G-A-Y on a Friday night/Saturday morning.
It's "it's not you, it's me".
A conversation remembered forever.
Roasted chestnuts served along South Bank.
A homeless man sitting outside Starbucks.

Fingerless gloves and short skirts.
Two for £10 burgers at your local 'gastro-pub'.
London is playing Arctic Monkey's album on the bus at 8:43am.
It's a fishfinger sandwich with ketchup and plastic cheese.
Buses that come every ten minutes.
London is an excellent transport system (we're supposed to say that).

It's falling in love with how somebody sounds at 5am.
London is foreplay on the dancefloor of a tacky nightclub.
It's Oxford Street Marks and Spencers for tea and cake on a Saturday afternoon.
It's arguing over religion with people you've just met.
London is vodka Red Bulls just as the night is coming to a close.
An attic flat in Brixton with four strangers.

It's the greatest love story ever told.
It's the loneliest story ever told.
London is working through your lunch break.
Sainsburys 'help yourself' salads.
It's introducing food into the bedroom to spice up your sex life.
It's bowling with strangers and your best friends rolled into one.
Vietnamese food with your manager.
London is tweeting when you're waiting for your train at night.
It's K cider to start the night off.

London is exactly like Christmas Day; you wake up and everything is amazing.
You eat six mince pies in a row, all of the Malteasers and the Galaxy Caramels from a tub of 'Celebrations' (because they're the best ones) and then start working your way through a selection box before you feel sick. 
It's opening your presents, full of excitement, before realising if you didn't drink so much, you could have bought it for yourself, saving your parents a little bit of money. 
It's being grateful and feeling guilty all at the same time. 
It's hiding the annoyance on your face when you realise somebody is always going to try and top your Christmas presents.
London is going to bed at the end of the day, feeling sick from too much food and too much joy. 

London is waking up on Boxing Day, realising you have to take the rubbish out.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013


(in Buddhism) a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and the subject is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth. It represents the final goal of Buddhism.
synonyms:paradise, heaven, Eden, the promised land.

Sunday, 24 November 2013


I like that
      I now drink coffee because of

Black, and sugar please...two.
                                       Most mornings begin with addiction
   as I watch my veins turn into
the selected method of transport, as the caffeine
            mixes with my blood. A paper cut
       would only show Nescafe and nicotine.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

"I need a hero"...well, actually you don't...

Five days ago, I went to see Russell Brand's stand-up show 'The Messiah Complex. I'm a huge fan of his work and the way in which he vocalises himself does nothing but make my brain hurt and my heart beat faster.

After he spent 'quality time' with the audience at the beginning of the show, Brand then spent two hours dissecting just why people think it's so important to have a hero. He compared himself to Malcolm X, Che Guevara, Gandhi and Jesus Christ in an attempt to convince people that really, we're not that different to those we place upon pedestals.

Sure, comparing yourself to the Son of God is a bit much but it got me thinking...

I know that I, personally, am incredibly guilty of placing those I admire upon a higher platform; I cannot even fathom why I do this because I only have myself to blame when these people show me they’re nothing more than simple human beings after all. None of my ‘heroes’ can cure life threatening diseases or stop famine in third world countries but yet, there they are, perched just higher than reaching distance, reminding me that I could be so much more. More hard-working, compassionate, loving, dedicated, relaxed, fearful, interesting…whatever I could be more of, they are.

I can’t tell you the exact moment my head decides it’s a good idea to place a singular person at this height, and I can only guess as to why I allow myself to make this decision. As I said before, I’m the only one who gets hurt when a person fails to reach my ridiculous expectations.
Just like Brand mentioned in his show, he, too, is guilty of marking somebody with the ‘hero’ status. Sure, he admitted to idolising four VERY famous, brilliant men but it’s not just ‘celebrities’ we’re capable of going starry-eyed over.

Back in April this year, I could officially say I had met every single one of my heroes. What started out as a joke – motivation, if you like – between me and a friend had actually become a bit of a checklist:
- Get e-mail address of particular ‘hero’ (usually a writer)
- Send/receive e-mails with them
- Arrange drinks/meeting
- Spend a whole day prior to meeting them, throwing up with nerves and convincing myself I wasn’t enough of a good writer to be in their presence.

This process happened five different times. Each time, I left the meeting in an intense state; I had just spent the evening with somebody I’ve idolised since I’ve been old enough to make my own decisions. I’m 20. I officially have nobody else I want to meet…except John Lennon but that’s impossible. It’s a complete understatement to say that the intense state mentioned above is nothing but overwhelming.

The next day, I’d be in a daze. People would try to talk to me and all I could say was “they think I’m a good writer. Like…a really good writer. They said I have so much potential and they’re excited to see my journey progress”. God, it was like I was possessed with this horrible, self-obsessed demon that stopped me from caring about anything other than what these people thought about me. I wish somebody had slapped me. But at the same time, that feeling of hearing a hero of yours praise you…it’s incomparable, it’s amazing and it’s addictive.

At the beginning of this process, I decided that all I could really do was get better. After all, that’s what my heroes were doing. They weren’t slowing down just because somebody praised their work and if anything, I just wanted to be like them. I wanted to be that good that somebody might even consider eventually looking up to me.

Suddenly, my heroes began to turn into my friends; they became the first person I’d call when in need, the most regular name flashing up on my phone, the person my Facebook would automatically assume was with me whenever I ‘checked-in’anywhere. It got to the point where I was living out their dream, side tracking my own, just to be a little bit like them.

I had the best time. I was living a life I had never, ever planned and enjoying every single minute of it. I was phoning my Mum to tell her I had spent the night partying with her favourite chart topper or Hollywood’s most famous leading man, coming into work after two hours sleep, wearing the same clothes as the night before, leaving the house at 6pm and finding myself on a different side of London at 6am. It was magical and compelling and I was living a 19 year old’s dream.

I had conversation topics to suit any situation, I had experiences under my belt that other people couldn’t even begin to get their head around and things that had once seemed impossible were now my reality. And what was even better about this, was that I had my heroes on speed dial/e-mail/next to me throughout this whole adventure.

On those rare nights when I found myself in my own bed at 11pm, I would spend hours obsessing over how amazing it was to have these people in my life; five very different people, all teaching me very different things. The experiences I had with them separately all created this huge bubble of ridiculousness in my head, a bubble that I soon discovered was about to burst.
This was the part of Russell Brand’s show whereby he compared himself to his heroes. He had built the audience, and himself, up to this point where we all genuinely believed life could not get any better. He had somebody to aspire to be like; he was constantly getting better now that he had something/somebody to aim towards…and then came the biggest flaw: the realisation that really, these people are no different to us already.

They are human. They need food and water and sleep to function. They have parents and maybe brothers and sisters. They have their own dreams. They have to go to the supermarket to buy cleaning products, toilet paper and things like butter. They go to the toilet. They suffer from hangovers and comedowns.
Every single person on this Earth has flaws. Perfection is impossible – unless you’re Channing Tatum, of course…

I soon realised that I had completely put my own journey on hold because it was too time-consuming. I wanted to spend every single possible moment, savouring in the taste of what the life of somebody I admired was like. But, was I any closer to becoming an award-winning journalist? Did I have anything, other than the dark circles under my eyes, to show my Mum I was one step closer to fulfilling my dreams?
If the answers to both of those were no, was I at l least any closer to convincing a really rich man to marry me? At least his wealth would distract my parents from my journey that they watched start and were now being forced to view as it came to a startling halt whilst I filled up on expensive alcohol?

Whilst some of the audience recoiled in shock as Russell Brand ended the show with a comparison on how he, just a simple (yet ridiculously sexy) man from Essex, was like Jesus Christ, I sat in awe as he encapsulated my outlook on heroes over the last few months with a few simple sentences.

Of course, I still place people on a pedestal. There are some I will always hold with high regards. I refuse to delete certain messages/e-mails/photos purely because they remind me of a particular person, or a memory associated with them. But I’ve given up on expecting these people to make me better. That responsibility falls on my own shoulders.
I’m learning to utilise what my ‘heroes’ teach me for the long term, the bigger picture. But I’m also learning how to edit what they’re teaching me so that these lessons completely mould around my own journey.

They may praise my writing skills, provide me with a ‘Free Entry’ pass to everything exciting and keep me distracted from my thoughts but I know now that what’s more important is my ability to turn my own dreams into reality. And I also need to focus on finding myself that rich man…

Monday, 7 October 2013


E-mails saved in a folder re-named as 'Archived', with subject lines, detailing
the amount of times I kissed you, how many minutes we spent together and
memorable dates.
Dates only you remember, which is strange because I remember everything,
including the amount our last adventure together cost you.

I kept receipts and cinema tickets and birthday cards and mixed CDs you had made me.
But I couldn't keep the videos I recorded of you laughing,
because the thought of somebody else being the reason for that laugh
only makes my heart heavy.

You kissed me like a friend, the last time I kissed you,
but it was hard on my mouth so I knew you meant it.
I wanted us to be closer, yet you grew distant.
The phone calls stopped.

I can't help but wonder if the other girl,
the girl you could take home to your parents because she shared the
same beliefs as you, gets to hear your laugh.

But two weeks ago, your name flashed onto my phone screen, and you told me you heard a song and it reminded you 

of me.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

9 to 5, part one.

Nobody really aspires to be working an average 9 to 5 job at the age of 20; most of my 20 year old friends barely make it out of bed before early afternoon and the thought of missing the lunchtime special at Whetherspoons fills them with a dread I don't even want to get my head around. In fact, regardless of age, does anybody really aspire to be working a 9 to 5? Dolly Parton may have convinced everybody that she understands what it's like to have to down two large espressos before 10am, just to function, but I'm pretty sure she's able to pick and choose her own working hours...she is Dolly Parton, after all.

Never, in my entire life, have I ever been seduced by the idea of working from 9am to 5pm. From the age of seven, I wanted to be a writer and in my head, that meant writing at 3am because it's the only time to find some peace and spending a lot of time networking with other writers, complaining about writer's block and lack of inspiration - two things which automatically mean a holiday needs to be booked ASAP. I had visions of myself sat at a desk, working from home on my state of the art laptop, writing 500 words every hour, stopping for spontaneous (but often) coffee, cake and cigarette breaks and finishing work whenever the nearest pub began Happy Hour. Now I'm older and a little bit more realistic, I cannot begin to tell you what a shock to the system it was to discover I didn't get to re-enact all of the above the minute I had a few A-Levels under my belt.

Instead, a lifetime of hard work is mapped out. If I want Happy Hour drinks, I have to earn the money to buy them. A state of the art laptop? Well, they don't grow on trees...
So I've taken up an office job, whereby I start at 9am and finish at 5:30pm. I'm usually late and if I'm not late, I'm sometimes hungover, tired or moody. The latter is a firm favourite of mine.
I'd be lying if I said I didn't struggle with the same routine everyday but luckily, my day to day to-do list varies.

The job is based at a debt collection agency; when I first started, I was an admin assistant who spent most of the day looking at the clock, urging the hands to move faster. Nine months later, I switched roles (I guess I was promoted really) and now I'm a complete Sales and Marketing tosser. I use phrases like "I hope you're well?" in e-mails, arrange client visits and make connections via LinkedIn. Friday afternoons and Monday mornings are dedicated to running reports and creating a Pivot Table in Excel excites me more than it should.
The company itself has a lot of potential to be something amazing. It's innovative, forward thinking and is in the process of finally catching up with the 21st century. Thank God.
I get on ridiculously well with my Manager (she's actually more of an annoying older sister than a pushy boss) and after a busy day at work, it's quite normal to find us sat outside a pub in Clapham, finally tasting those Happy Hour drinks I've been banging on about.
I work with my brother, which is a challenge in itself but entertaining nevertheless. Plus, it means I'm always guaranteed a lunch buddy.
In actual fact, the idea of working a 9 to 5 would be too much to bear if I was working anywhere other then the company I work for now.

One of the benefits of my job is that I get to visit clients across the country. I escape London every once in a while, braving Euston Station at 9am and travel to places like Havant, Coventry,'s not glamorous, but it beats staring at the same four walls five days a week.
So, today, I found myself in the office of a warehouse, dressed like an estate agent and sat next to my Manager. We had just finished a four hour long drive to Stoke after a horrendous 5am wake-up call and life could not have been anymore surreal unless a flying pig flew past.
"Who wants to be sat in a warehouse that distributes collectible plates featuring the Royal Family's faces? Oh, and at Christmas, they include Santa hats on the plates..." 
And the answer to that question is: nobody. Nobody really wants to be sat in this specific office, discussing how the placement of a Christmas hat would effect the Queen's hair on a plate that's going to take pride of place on somebody's wall unit.

But it got me thinking: 13 years ago, when I first decided I wanted to write for a living, I would never have imagined that spending time in a plate distributing warehouse would ever have factored into the hard graft I've got to put in. Not only just spending time in said warehouse, but some of the activities that take place at work either...I'm pretty sure I didn't sign up for "awful atmosphere, bitchy comments" when I made a pledge to create a career out of my words but still...they're entertaining stories when swapped over a few drinks in a beer garden.

My office consists of a range of people: University graduates, working Mums, angry young adults and hard-working career heads.
I sit with my manager, slap bang in the middle of an open plan office; we're between the Call Centre and Client Services, so eavesdropping means conversation topics vary. One day, it could be about cruise ships dedicated to amateur tango dancers, and the next, it could be about politics and the voting system.
There's a variety of characters who accompany these stories, starting with the right-wing-Daily-Mail-reading 67 year old who works in Client Services, the outrageously-gay-but-in-the-closet guy who works in Correspondence and ending with the over-protective-of-stationary Finance Ledger.

I'm not sure if it's because we favour Prosecco over £6 wine (no complaints though but when you've got a choice...) or because we separate work from our home life, but nobody really talks to my Manager and I. Oh, hold your sympathy, surprisingly the silence is actually a good thing. It keeps us out of drama and allows us to laugh at the ridiculous situations that unfold from the sidelines.
For example, when one member of Correspondence fell out with the outrageously-gay-but-in-the-closet guy who also works in Correspondence, this suddenly meant the team had to take sides. Cigarette breaks were staggered, teas and coffees were made separately and there was an awkward atmosphere hanging over the section like somebody had seen somebody else naked.
It provided a fair bit of entertainment on boring Tuesday afternoons and it was always a mystery as to who would be speaking to who every morning.

Bitching like that occurs frequently and it is really the people, not the situations, that bring the entertainment factor to the table. One woman is obsessed with the new coffee machine we've just had installed in our kitchen and it's become a bit of a running joke how mad she gets when it runs out of beans. Another woman drinks so much of a lunchtime, it's become a bit of a competition to guess how much sense she'll make when she stumbles back into the office. One guy pulls so many sickies, we're actually shocked when he turns up in the morning.
Although I understand the importance of caffeine when working such straight hours, I'm also starting to understand how important it is to fill everyday with as much laughter as possible. I wouldn't be privy to such ridiculous situations, conversations and people if I was sat at home with only my laptop to keep me company.

Sure, I'd have plenty of videos of funny cats on YouTube to watch but I don't think that interests me as much as knowing how my Manager's step class went, whether a specific Call Centre Agent pulled during his beloved Foxtrot lessons and what every single member of the Client Services team had for dinner.
I don't care how sad that makes me, I can't help but thank John Lennon's spirit that all of what I wished for mentioned above doesn't come so easily because if it had, I wouldn't have met some of the funniest people I know. So as much as I want to write for a living, right now I'm quite grateful that I'm gaining experience in a field I didn't even know existed up until 18 months ago. Even if it does mean I have to sit in a warehouse that distributes collectible plates sometimes...

Monday, 5 August 2013

"If you can't say something nice...don't say nothing at all" - Thumper (Bambi)

As a kid, I was never allowed to watch Bambi; my parents knew that it would lead to days of hysteria, endless sleepless nights and a hundred and one questions. I've still never watched it, purely out of fear that these things will happen, this time without the safety of my parents bed and a nightlight to help send me back to sleep.
But, despite never seeing the film, Bambi has actually taught me one of the most important lessons I've ever learnt: "if you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all".

As a rule of thumb, if I have only negative comments to make, I try not to turn them into utterances. Sure, every so often, I slip up and I say something I end up regretting for the next 24 hours but usually, you'll only find nice words coming from my lips. I LOVE sarcasm but would never use it to purposely make somebody feel bad. I just find it easier to compliment people then to insult them, regardless of whether I mean it or not.
Unfortunately, some people tend to favour the insults rather than the compliments and I'm struggling to get my head around this.

Whether they do it to be purposely nasty or because they've placed themselves in an uncomfortable situation, people who say things venomously really do get my back up.
It's bullying, it's in most obvious form, and although some comments are meant with jest, I honestly do believe that it's easier, and a bloody lot nicer, to just keep your mouth closed.

A lot of the time, people don't even think before they make a comment; I'm one of those annoying people without a filter between my brain and mouth but even I know hurtful comments do nothing but cause upset. When I dyed my hair orange, the amount of abuse I got in the street was ridiculous. But it came from strangers, from people who didn't, and shouldn't, care about the after effect of their words. They get to go home, watch Jeremy Kyle, and forget about how their comments made me feel and good for them. The only reason they're going to address their comment is if they're evaluating how to become a nicer person - I'm the least of their worries. But when supposed friends make nasty comments, that's what gets me.

They should know how rude it is to pass comment on something such as weight, sexuality, career choice, what you had for dinner. But again, I'm shocked to see that very few people think about the consequences before they open their mouth - even when they know the person they're talking too.
At a wedding yesterday, I felt reasonably good about myself. I haven't had an excuse to dress up, wear heels and apply my eyeliner until it reached my hairline for a really long time; it felt good putting effort into how I looked and as strangers started complimenting me, I began to get a buzz. And then the comments came.
Again, regardless of whether the comments are made in jest, I think people really need to address how their words effect others. Somebody made a comment about my hair reminding them of Ariel, from The Little Mermaid. "I think you look more like the Sea Witch in that film" came a response. Cool.
At first, little jokes like this used to make me laugh but the situation in how it was said, did nothing but get my back up.
Then came the comments about weight. I've suffered with my weight since I was 13 and I'm now in a position to say I'm comfortable with how I look; okay, so I have an issue with my arms and I really hate my thighs and hips but FINALLY, the thought of somebody seeing me naked in the light doesn't make me feel as sick as it used too. But none of this matters because all it takes is one comment from one person to knock me back into that place again. Oh, and there it was "I might become bulimic for an hour, see how much food I can fit in." - sure, a sweeping statement to many, but for me, that was like a dagger through my stretch-marked stomach.

The entire day, not one single nice comment came from this person's mouth. When speaking to me, most words were laced with malice and spite, all for no particular reason. I hadn't been nasty to them or uttered a single word aimed to insult them.
It's just amazing how one person's negative actions/words can totally ruin the precedent of a day. Weddings are supposed to be a celebration of love, documented with beautiful photographs and with amazing memories. Instead, I'm flicking through Facebook photos scrutinising my make-up and wondering whether or not I share any resemblance to Ursula, the Sea Witch.

Although rather selfishly I've focused on myself throughout this, it seems that the negativity has spread worldwide.

Recently, Twitter has been like a playground for cyber abuse with strangers sending other people threats, of rape and murder, when all they should be doing is enjoying their lunch break. When did a social media platform become so negative? I signed up four years ago to keep up to date with my friends - two years ago, something clicked and I realised I could be using it to showcase my blog and to connect with people in positions that would help me. I've met many of my heroes, and some of my best friends, through Twitter and have never even thought to bombard somebody with horrible Tweets or to abuse somebody simply because they're in the public eye. This sort of behavior is so foreign to me, that I'm still genuinely shocked when I see it happening.
Caitlin Moran wrote an explanation on the reasoning behind the #twittersilence she arranged; an organised Twitter silence to alert the higher powers of Twitter that if something wasn't done to step up how abuse, and abusers, is treated then Tweeters would just find a new platform. Shockingly, this led to even more abuse from those who thought the #twittersilence was giving into the bullies. A simple act of solidarity didn't even need to be explained but the sheer naivety, and nastiness, of some people means that we're now living in a world where even positive actions are having to be explained.
Why can we not just be NICE?

There's really need for all of this negativity; why do we purposely try to make people feel like shit? Why do we even think our words matter enough for us to speak them?

Social media, although this cannot be blamed entirely, has given every single person out there a voice, and whilst that's brilliant in some aspects, people seem to think that suddenly, it's okay to use this voice to cause trouble. I see it everywhere: YouTube video comments, blog posts, Twitter, Facebook...there's so many platforms for people to shout from. It's a horrible world we live in when you're scared of Tweeting something, just in case a stranger seems to think it's okay to pass a negative comment.

I can only share my opinions but I am going to make it my mission to say at least one lovely thing per day. In fact, make that five. Whether it be a nice comment on a Facebook photo, an e-mail fan-girling to my writing hero or a Tweet, spreading love towards somebody having a bad day, I'm going to make certain that my social media platforms are radiating nothing but positivity, love and kindness. In fact, when I eventually have kids, I'm only to deter them from getting Twitter accounts (or whichever 'cool' social media platform they're using) and force them to watch Bambi instead.
I think we can all learn a lot from Thumper's words...

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Ebony Lilly...x

September, as I know it, isn't a very exciting month. It's back to school season, end of festival season and the beginning of horrible weather season. But September 2012 was alright. On August 30th, one of my best friends gave birth to the most beautiful baby girl I've ever set my sights on. From her silly hair to her chubby little cheeks, there is nothing about this kid that doesn't exude perfection. 10 months later, she's a proper little human being who smiles when you blow raspberries on her tummy and pulls a grumpy face when you won't let her watch the television. Ebony Lilly is going to change the world, or at least the parts around her, and I'm going to be watching every single one of her steps. I'm well aware she hasn't even taken her first yet and the fact she can't read is a bit of an issue but in six years time, when I'm forcing her to read books like 'To Kill A Mockingbird' and 'Jane Eyre', I'm also going to make her read this. Just so she can realise how many lives she turned upside down when she took her first breath:

Alright kiddo,

I know this is a bit premature given that you can't read, walk or even use a computer but one day you'll get what this is all about. When I first held you, you being three days old and me holding back happy tears as your little eyes took in my mental hair and stupid mole face (blame your Mum for that nickname), I made a secret pact with you. Well I made two, one being to always remind you that John Lennon is in fact the greatest Beatle of all time, but the other one being a bit more serious: your Mum has provided me with enough laughter, support and friendship to last a lifetime and I owe her big time for the amount of times she's helped dig me out of horrible situations - when you're old enough to know, we'll tell you the Superdrug story but please don't think any less of me. I was really drunk when it happened.
Your Dad is brilliant and I know he'll protect you beyond belief but there's going to come a time when your Mum is going to need a little bit of help from her friends. Whether to tell you no when you ask to get a piercing (I mean, of course I'll sneak you away from your Mum's watchful eye and let you get it done anyway but she doesn't need to know that) or interrogate your first boyfriend, I made a promise with you, and her, that I'd help out. Trust me, you're going to cause your Mum and Dad a lot of grey hairs as you grow up so the least I can do is try to minimalise the damage, right?

Anyway, the point of this isn't to make myself cry, which I seem to be doing anyway, but it's to give you something to read when you're grounded for the first time. Which I can see being very soon - you're pretty cheeky already, madam. When you were born, I realised I couldn't ever preach to you about the importance of ambition or following your dreams if I wasn't taking my own advice. So at this very moment, I'm living in London, 64 miles away from you, attempting to forge a successful writing career and maintain a level of control over my own life...I'm not sure either of those things are happening at the rate I hoped for but it's an adventure. I'm learning a lot of important lessons along the way so I thought I'd share them with you. God knows you're not going to listen but I like to think you'll pay a little bit of attention...

Whatever you want to do with your life: do it. You're already headstrong and stubborn so I know you'll have no problem with this but just remember that you possess enough power to change the world. Today, I saw my Twitter feed blow up as people expressed their admiration for Wendy Davis, a remarkable woman who has literally changed the world. You can do that too, if you want. But if you want to work in Tesco for the rest of your life, you can do that as well. But just a warning: I'm going to push you to be the greatest possible version of yourself. If you choose Tesco, you'll make store manager in a week.

Please please please respect your education. Don't bunk lessons because your teacher's an idiot. Always revise. Go to your exams. Study hard.

Keep a diary, kid. One day, when you're twenty years old and in a lonely, over-polluted city, you'll read the musings of your teenage self and it'll give you enough motivation to keep pushing through with whatever journey you've decided to take. Write down every single memory as it happens, take lots of photos and document everything. The hand cramp will be totally worth it, I promise.

Do not underestimate the power of music. Your Mum maybe a big Rihanna fan but I'm going to start making you mix-tapes as soon as you're old enough to appreciate the beauty of The Kinks, The Doors, Madonna, Bowie, Alanis Morissette and many others. Get your hands on as many records as you possibly can of as many genres available. Do me a favour and please never buy a Flo Rida song though, yeah?

Boys are going to come and go, trust me. You'll get enough attention from them as you get older but just wait for one that really makes your heart pound and your stomach turn to butterflies. Your Mum and Dad have been together a really long time already, so take note of what they're doing right. But just be picky, for Gods sake. You're going to be way out of every boy's league anyway so maybe there's not much point in even trying to find one good enough for you. Become a nun instead.

Body modification is cool; I have enough tattoos and piercings to tell you this but just think really hard before you mark your body forever.

Vodka is not your friend. Neither is whiskey. Or wine. Or beer. Just don't drink alcohol. But if you are tempted, make sure you've got somebody sensible with you - preferably me. There'll be none of this drinking cider in the park with boys two years older then you malarky.

Appreciate EVERY single thing your Mum and Dad do for you, okay? I know they're annoying and really mental but they brought you into this world so do me a favour and show you're grateful, please.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but people are going to hurt you. Fuck, you're going to hurt people as well without even realising it. But don't let one bad experience stop you from trusting again. Your heart will heal but just forgive as gracefully as you possibly can. Don't hold grudges, they'll just give you a headache.

Don't bleach your hair. Your Mum will tell you this one but just in case she doesn't: green, orange (unless you're me), blue, pink and yellow hair don't look that nice once it's started to fade. Just stay natural.

Say please and thank you.

Read as much as you possibly can. Words are my greatest love, obviously aside from you, and I've learnt so much from them. You're already showing signs of being a bit of a geek so embrace that. Books are cool.

Love, a lot. And be kind. Gosh, Ebony if there's one thing you take from this, if you choose not to take my advice when it comes to alcohol, please just keep this in mind. Be kind, be lovely but don't be taken for a fool.

I know I've sort of limited you a lot here but trust me, it'll be worth it in the end if you listen up. By the time you're old enough to read this, I'm not sure what I'll be doing with my life - hopefully writing for a respected newspaper and earning enough money to see you at least twice a month, but just know that wherever I am, I will always have your back. You'll always have my support, regardless of whether you want, or need, it so don't be scared to tell me things you feel you can't tell your Mum and Dad. Just don't tell me you like Rihanna.
I'm going to make sure you experience as much of this world as I can offer you, whether that be in the form of holidays, gigs, books, words, adventures, train tickets, advice or life lessons. Your Mum and Dad have got to do the serious stuff so don't hold that against them but they've made sure you've got enough people around you to provide the fun side of things.

Ten months old and you're already changing the world, little one, so I can only imagine what you're going to be like by the time you reach my age. Just be cool, Ebony, and don't ever be embarrassed by anything I do...because it'll only make me do it more.

I love you a ridiculous amount; thanks for turning my world upside down without forcing me to go through a really painful labour. I'm sorry for the amount of The Beatles I will make you listen to.


Sunday, 9 June 2013

IAmMusic.TV: Paloma Faith in aid of WarChild

Paloma Faith is an icon. Whatever your take on contemporary music is, there’s no denying that she’s up there with artists such as Jake Bugg, Frank Turner and Plan B. A part of a new generation sent to change the way we view the world via the medium of music. Her journey through the music industry has been a tough one but one she has completely worked for. In turn, she’s bringing with her a message regarding work ethic, passion and determination. Using her talents for good, instead of evil, she’s following in the footsteps of artists, who have previously walked the same path as she is walking right now, such as Billie Holiday, Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald…but she’s paving a personal route, in her own sky-scraper heels.
With artists like Paloma Faith in the mix, my faith in the music industry remains intact. Can we just forget about David Guetta now and lets stop replaying ‘Take Care’ by Drake and Rihanna. Lets focus on the artists who are in this industry, not for the fame, but for the passion. Because they can’t get through a day without creating a melody. Because they speak in lyrics. Because it’s not blood that runs through their veins, but music. Music and a shared aspiration that the world could be a better place… but only if we sack off Baauer from the hit 40 UK Chart Show.
In the last 18 months, I’ve followed Paloma Faith’s career intently and I’ve seen how much she’s progressed as an artist. Ever since she released her first album ‘Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful’, I’ve witnessed her perform a few times and the intensity of one of her shows is something you can only experience. From the very first time I sat in Union Chapel, watching her perform her first album to a crowd so deeply intrigued by the performance in front of them, to Sunday night, where I sat in the same spot as I did two years previously, watching her perform songs from her second album, ‘Fall to Grace’ to a different crowd yet who were equally as intrigued, I feel as though I’ve been looking in on her journey and suddenly, she’s transcended into a figure the music industry so urgently needs.
As she took to the stage, accompanied by her band members – a team so close, it’s almost like they’re family – and backed by a string quartet, the crowd went silent, ready to immerse themselves fully into the night that lay ahead of them. That’s the thing with a Paloma Faith concert, you never quite know what you should be prepared for…
The night was held in aid of War Child, a dedicated charity created to raise funds for children who are victims of war. The charity’s work stretches across the globe and there’s no limit to the help and support they provide. Produced by American Express, the night was the first of their Platinum Cashback rewards – an idea I can’t help but hail as long awaited. The ethos behind the night is that you spend £30 on a ticket to the show and then on the night, you can either take the cash back in the form of an American Express gift card or you can donate that £30 to War Child. There’s no guilt placed on you if you want to take the cash back but the way I see it is that you’ve spent £30 to see a truly spectacular show AND you’re helping to save someone’s life. I mean, what else are you going to spend your money on besides that pair of boots you saw in the Office sale that’ll be out of fashion by April?
With Nina Nesbitt as the support act for the evening, the night began when Nina picked up her guitar. Quirky, talented beyond belief and completely holding her own on the stage, Nina is everything I love about the music industry right now. Girls fighting back, doing their own thing and proving that Geri Halliwell kick-started a major world changer the moment she uttered ‘girl power’ for the first time. At only 18, Nina possesses a level of wisdom that shone throughout the crowd as she performed songs straight from her heart. It’s without a doubt that Nina is an emerging talent and I feel so honoured to have seen her perform in a venue such as Union Chapel. Her music is honest, personal and she had the entire crowd in the palm of her hand as she giggled her way through a badly tuned guitar.
After a short break, Paloma took to the stage to perform; in no way different from every other time I’ve seen her live, she had the crowd speechless as she glided her way across the stage and introduced the night with ‘Let Your Love Walk In’. Despite a few errors, Paloma soon announced that she was having trouble with the set list as she had only performed the songs in such a way once before: stripped back, acoustic and completely raw. While there wasn’t a dry eye in the house as she performed songs such as ‘Agony’, ‘When You’re Gone’  and ’30 Minute Love Affair’, within seconds she had the crowd singing along to the song made famous through the John Lewis advert, ‘Never Tear Us Apart’. That’s what I love about Paloma’s music; it can lift you up and bring you back down without you even realising it and as you find yourself dancing along to the music, you’re left wondering why your mascara is halfway down your face.
As she continued to perform songs from her album, she wowed the crowd with her performance of ‘Just Be’ – a modern day love song that is refreshingly honest. Telling the story of a couple so in love that they can admit they sometimes get a bit pissed off with each other, she gave every singleton in the audience a little bit of hope that, someday, they’ll find someone who finds their annoying habits endearing. Followed shortly by ‘Streets of Glory’ a personal favourite of mine, I was completely speechless as she performed the song with such perfect execution, despite the entire crowd holding back tears. Paloma proved last night that she’s not just a brilliant performer but a true wordsmith as well, with lyrics such as “you can’t teach because you never learn” and “the more you talk, the less it means”…which is why it just seemed completely necessary to let Paloma sing away our Sunday evening. Her songs capture every single human emotion and I was left wondering whether I could get through life just by playing her album when I’m required to speak. What I try to say in 20 minutes, Paloma proved she can cover in a simple three.
A true rollercoaster of emotions, seeing Paloma Faith perform live leaves you questioning reality and wondering what you’ve been doing with your life up until that very moment. She’s a typical girl from Hackney who drinks ginger and lemon tea on stage and swears like a trooper (when her Mum isn’t present at a gig) but she possesses an insane amount of knowledge when it comes to the state of society. Her music reflects that and in turn, her audiences leave from one of her shows that little bit more aware of what exactly is around them. As she performed her song ‘Black and Blue’, I could see the crowd studying the lyrics like they were required to sit the biggest exam of their life afterwards. It says a lot about an artist when they can capture the attention of an audience like that.
Watching Paloma perform instilled a level of calm within me that I only really understand after a couple of glasses of wine; with the likes of her flying the flag for British music and creating waves I know the future generation of musicians will be splashing around in sooner or later, I have 100% faith in Ms. Faith to bring the music industry back to the level it should be at. Forget artists shedding clothes to get attention, Paloma Faith managed to capture the audience with just her sheer presence upon the stage.

That time I sat down with Delilah for IAmMusic.TV...

When Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox put their heads together and created ‘Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves’, I doubt they would have had the female artists currently tearing up the music scene in mind. However, this doesn’t make their genius lyrics any less relevant and as I sat down with Delilah, prior to her performance at LoveDough, I couldn’t help but think that us girls are smashing speakers up across the world in our own right. It’s almost like Franklin and Lennox pre-empted this rise up of creative women because with artists like Delilah in the mix, sisters really are doing it for themselves…and for the music industry, at the same time.
Having worked with artists such as Chase and Status, Wretch 32 and Skream, I can understand why her first single reached the top ten without even having an official release date. “With a release date, we could have maybe gone for a top five but we had a top five record album. It’s been good, it’s been organic. ” Humble as well as ambitious, Delilah is in possession of a talent the music industry so desperately needs. She’s aware she’s good at what she does but understands that there’s always a higher level for her to progress too. “I’ve been in the studio working on the new album a lot, I want to get it out by the end of this year. I’m excited about it; it’s dark, energetic…very me, but it’s also a progression.”
I understand ambition but I’m in awe of how determined Delilah is. It’s a rarity to find an artist totally focused on pursuing a career in an industry famed for being so fickle. “I’m not the biggest artist in the world yet but I feel like I’ve gained a lot of respect; I haven’t had a lot of negative feedback about my last record and considering it was the first one, we made all the mistakes we could possibly make so I’m quite happy with it.”
“Singing has always been my dream, there’s loads of things I’d love to do but I’ve always been someone who’s quite good at picking things up quickly. I’m quite driven and competitive…I don’t like to lose and I could have done whatever because I would have fought to make myself the best at it.”
Role models are hard to come by these days; the moment you’re in the public eye, your entire life is publicised in newspapers and magazines, every accessible medium possible. As I grew up, I saw Victoria Beckham’s battle with eating disorders documented on a daily basis, Britney Spears’ breakdown and headlines connecting drug use with practically every person to come out of the Big Brother house. However, this is yet another reason as to why Delilah is part of a revolutionary generation; it’s not a case of “bad publicity is better than good publicity”, it’s about doing what you love and making sure you’re the best you can be at it. As I chatted with Delilah, it struck me that I’ve never had my eyes opened to that sort of attitude…and it’s refreshing to look at it from this new perspective. Another reason why Delilah is providing the music scene with an attitude never really embraced before.
Recently within the music industry, it’s been a case of artists covering the same stuff we’ve heard before or throwing a rapper into the mix to shake things up a bit. But Delilah’s type of music is fresh, it hasn’t been churned out previously and it’s the perfect type of sound to hit the ever changing music industry because it has longevity. “I try to do something that isn’t throwback and doesn’t sound like an era. I’m a huge fan of voices and people who have a tone so I try to keep whatever it is in my voice that makes me sound like me.”
The current music scene is overcome by super talented women, girls embracing everything Geri Halliwell shouted about back in the 90s. FINALLY, girl power is taking over. “I have a lot of respect for artists such as Jessie Ware, Lianne La Havas, Alanis Morissette but I’m aware we all do very different things. For me, Amy Winehouse was the person who encouraged me into music.”
I always find the subject of Amy Winehouse quite a hard subject to talk about; she’s a musical legend, talented beyond belief and throughout my life, I’ve always listed Amy as one of my biggest influences – she did what she loved and did it well, the ethos behind Delilah’s music too.  “I was really influenced by her. She looks different from other people and so do I. She sings weirdly and so do I. We’re both from Camden and she’s leaving such an amazing legacy behind her.”
As we chatted, I realised Delilah has so much more to offer the music industry than I originally thought. She knows her stuff, she’s passionate and she’s always ready to embrace the different angles music consists of. “There’s a lot of people who can sing and I’m so aware of that but I just want to do something different. There’s probably millions of people who can sing better than me but they can’t sing the way I can. I’m focusing on individuality.”
There’s never been a better time for this sort of focus, what with the music scene embracing people like Iggy Azalea, Angel Haze and Kendrick Lamar. It’s not about doing what’s already been done three years previously, it’s about setting a better example for future generations – it’s about showing the world there’s more to music than Rihanna and Pitbull taking over the charts every Sunday. “I’m not really in the position to help people out but I can offer advice; I’m not where I want to be yet so it’d be crazy of me to think I could delegate the time and effort to take someone where they want to be but I have been doing this since I was 17. I know a lot about creating a sound. I think it’s important for artists to stick together a bit more.”
“There’s a few new artists massively capturing my heart; there’s one girl called Naomi, she’s hasn’t really got an artist name but I met her the other day and her voice is incredible. I’m going to do everything in my power to help her out.”
Whilst there’s no denying that she’s obviously talented, I love that Delilah’s honest enough to admit that she’s still learning and kind enough to want to help other’s out. It’s a rare combination in an industry full of artists all who assume they’re something special. Music is literally the love of her life but it’s not just singing that she can turn her hand too. “I’ve been playing piano since I was 12 but I was never classically trained. I started at about 6 or 7, stopped and then started at about 12 to 14. I stopped again, started smoking a lot and partying as you do when you’re 14 to 17 but I got back on it. I’m not as good as I could be but it’s going to take a practice.” I thought she was just being competitive when she said she liked to be the best at everything she tried out but it’s clear that competition isn’t the case; just pure determination, ambition and reaching heights others only dream of hitting.
“My main focus this year is creating a new body of work. I’ve got a couple of gigs coming up and I’m doing Isle of Wight Festival and Exit Festival as well but ultimately, it’s just about where this album takes me. Baby steps though.”
After our chat, I walked away with a little bit of a girl crush on Delilah, a crush I’m not afraid of admitting too. She is truly something spectacular; without a doubt, Delilah’s music is going to be providing the music scene with something new and exciting, a type of sound other musicians will soon be holding amongst their influences. Her only downfall? She’s a Kanye West fan…
“I don’t want to marry the guy, I just think he’s a musical genius. He doesn’t come across the best but I can’t deny his musical talent. As a lyricist, how he plays on words…he makes you listen to what he says and how he says things. I like that he’s a twat.”

IAmMusic.TV: you know that time I interviewed Vince Kidd?

“I got a bit of CD in my eye once and I have the worst eye-sight because of it; I was breaking a CD because I didn’t want my Mum to hear some of the lyrics I wrote ’cause they were dirty so I broke it and it pinged in my eye.” many artists say that music runs through their veins, but only Vince Kidd could say that music has literally embedded itself within his body. With two days to go before his performance at UD Live on 18th April, I caught up with the fella behind ‘The Voice’ and ended up falling in love with everything he stands for. What we all saw on the telly talent show is half of what Vince Kidd is capable of. With a mind a merge of creativity and business, it’s only going to be a matter of time before Vince, his army of fans and his music have taken over the world. Move over Flo Rida, Vince Kidd is in town.
“You have a massive problem with Flo Rida, don’t you? I love his song about blowjobs…” the precedent is set for my little chat with Vince and I’m well aware that I’m going to be in stitches for every second of it. It’s clear from the outset that he knows his stuff. He’s battled his way to where he is now, won over Tom Jones, Jessie J, Danny O’Donaghue and Will.I.Am on ‘The Voice’ and with plenty of touring experience behind him, his performance at UD Live is going to be a walk in the park. “I love being rebellious, I piss a lot of people of but fuck it, because I didn’t get this far by compromising. I never compromised when I was a little boy so I’m not fucking compromising now it’s my music.” it’s this attitude that has seen him attract a massive following, with a huge number of people admiring his honesty and feistiness when it comes down to his music. In this day and age, with so much music being created, you need to stand out. And if you don’t notice Vince when he walks through the door, you sure as will notice him when he opens his mouth.
It’s refreshing to come across an artist so certain of his purpose, so fixated on a goal but yet so clued up on the obstacles he’s inevitably going to face along the way. “When it came to my first E.P ‘Sick Love’, I listened to people because I was still learning the ropes with how to be business and be creative at the same time.” With ‘Sick Love’ marking Vince’s place in the music industry, it must be quite hard to shake off any stereotype/rumours started after his performance on ‘The Voice’.  “I was interviewed by somebody the other day who was like “you came from The Voice?” and I was like “yeah but I didn’t come from The Voice, I was involved in music beforehand” but if that’s all people have seen of me, I think they would assume that I’m a puppet, not that musical and just a singer as opposed to being 100% involved in my music. Which I am. I love the creative side of this business, it’s what fucking turns me on.”
I’ve always questioned television talent shows, purely because I used to think it was the easy way into a really hard industry to break. But witnessing how difficult it is to be heard in a business where all everybody wants to do is sing, I completely understand the justification of why shows like ‘The Voice’ and ‘The X Factor’ are seen as an entry point. And chatting with Vince, I realised that it’s not just about a starting position, it’s the exposure to potential fans as well. “It didn’t bring me connections ’cause I already had those but I learnt a lot. I didn’t need to go on there to beg for a music producer but it gave me amazing fans. My fans are so selfless. They remind me why I’m doing this. ” and for anyone who Tweets Vince, be warned. “In this day and age, Twitter means you can’t be mysterious but you can use it wisely and it is a chance to get to know your fans. Sometimes if I’m bored, I stalk their pages. I read their tweets and see their mannerisms. We all talk the same way now, it’s weird.” He claims to be “a bit of a lone ranger”, but given that a new ‘Vince Kidd’ language seems to have been discovered, I’m not quite sure how much of that I believe.
“The only thing I didn’t like about going to stage school was that they’re trying to make you like somebody else and I was never like that, I’ve never fitted in. I’ve always had friends but I mean in the sense like the performance side of things, I’ve always been different to everyone else. I didn’t fit in with the theatrical side of things, I’ve always been a bit weird.” wearing a string vest, sporting iced blonde hair and numerous piercings, I can understand why. But the beauty of Vince Kidd is that he’s confident within himself and he’s an ambassador of being comfortable within your own skin – a lesson many young people today need an education in.
Part of a the next generation of musicians to be combating such a tough industry, Vince grew up surrounded by artists such as Etta Bond, Delilah and Vanessa from the Saturdays. “It’s wicked, it’s not competitive because we’re all mad different. One of our guys in our friendship group plays Michael Jackson in Thriller, so we’re all in different lanes. Vanessa’s in a girl band and Etta is doing something on a completely different spectrum, so it’s not competitive at all.”
So it must help being surrounded by people who understand the pressures of the music industry and the lifestyle it brings with it? “My family sort of do, but it’s a lost for them to get their head around. Sometimes I’m waking up as they’re coming in from work and my Dad’s a bit like “what the fuck?” – he always says to me “you haven’t worked a day’s hard work since you were 16″ but they’re quite supportive though. My Mum’s really supportive cause she’s a typical caring Mum but my Dad’s like “yeah, I’ll give you some credit when you bring home some money”, that kind of thing.”
It’s not just making music that Vince loves, but listening to it as well. “I’m really dramatic when it comes to music, my Dad used to call me Dramatic Harry because I love people like Michael Jackson and the great rockstars. But growing up, I listened to a lot of Amy Winehouse, I love her and she was just completely herself.  She just made the music she wanted to make and you’d hear her on the radio and it would seem a million miles away from all this Flo Rida bullshit.”
By the end of the interview, not only have I managed to get Vince to admit his true feelings about Flo Rida, but I’ve also received an invite to UD Live (“come and find me at the bar, we’ll drink tequila!”) and discovered his latest project with Vanessa, from The Saturdays, could cause a little controversy. “May 25th sees the release of my 2nd E.P that I’m dropping which isn’t going to be a commercial release because I just wanted to release something for my fans prior to putting the lead singles out, like a pre-release. It’s got some cool collaborations it though, we shot a video last week with Vanessa which was great. It’s a very different side to her, which I love but it could cause a little controversy. I can’t say anymore then that as I can’t give too much away but the video will be out soon.”
With UD Live in two days time, I wondered Vince if was nervous about performing – wait, this is the guy who thrives off of touring, worships his fans and loves the drama of performing. Of course he isn’t “I’m excited. I love performing and it looks like it’s going to be a really good night.” — and a good night it will be, especially when I get Vince drunk  enough for him to admit to the controversial aspects of his upcoming video…

IAmMusic.TV: Tape Deck Heart - Frank Turner

“Blacking in and out in a strange flat in East London, somebody I don’t really know gave me something to help settle me down and stop me from always thinking about you.” – I don’t know about you but when the opening track to an album touches on drug use, East London and constantly thinking about somebody, it usually has me hooked. There’s something relatable about doing stupid things in random places to help you in doing an ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind‘, right? Or is that just me?
Anyway…’Tape Deck Heart’ is probably the best thing Frank Turner has ever created. Unless he’s a dad, in which case his offspring will always be the greatest byproduct, but in a situation where he’s childless, ‘Tape Deck Heart‘ wins. I’ve been a massive fan of his since about 2008, when somebody I didn’t really like posted the link to ‘Reasons Not To Be An Idiot‘ on their Facebook. Now, I really wanted to dislike it, to be able to slate their music taste like the judgemental 15 year old I once was but that was definitely not the case. I fell in love with Frank’s philosophical honesty, his lyrics that remained in your head for days after you’d first heard them and the way the majority of his songs always sound like a drunken rant. Although every single one of his albums have been completely on point and beautifully created, ‘Tape Deck Heart‘ is one that particularly stands out for me, as my favourite. Maybe it’s the mix of acoustic-y ballads such as ‘Good & Gone’, anthemic tunes reminiscent of an early creation of The Sex Pistols (before they got too ‘Never Mind The Bollocks‘) like ‘Recovery‘ for example and songs that draw inspiration from Frank’s own political musings – ‘The Fisher Kings Blues‘ being my favourite; “and though it seems a little strange to me, people never really change, it seems. We’re all broken boys and girls, at heart, come together, fall apart.”
I mean how can you listen to these lyrics and not feel the need to high five the person next to you, simply because it seems song writing is back ON track? Forget whichever rapper is top dog at the moment, singing about popping bottles or going hard because he won’t go home…Frank Turner has just created one of the most beautiful albums I’ve witnessed to be released in the last 20 years and it’s time we all played it, REALLY fucking loud. Let’s take solace in the fact that we’re all a little bit messed up, we all like to drink too much and end up confessing secrets to a stranger in a dirty old bar and we all regret it the next day…but Frank Turner has just released an album that says everything we all need dutch courage – or five whiskeys – to say. Finally we can all just be honest with ourselves whilst playing songs such as ‘Plain Sailing Weather‘ and admit that it’s okay to be a bit of a fuck up – because Frank Turner has admitted it too.
Wherefore Art Thou Gene Simmons?’ is another track that stands out for me, not only because it draws reference to the KISS member but because it’s a song that truly gives me goosebumps. Asking questions such as “does your mother know who you are now?”, this song makes you look inside of yourself, question exactly what Frank’s asking you and wonder how to make things better…it’s like self-help made simple, in a 3 minutes, 35 seconds song.
The entire album is ambiguous, and when you listen to it it’s easy to imagine it being played in an Irish pub in Stockwell at 2am in the morning, but it’s also easy to imagine Frank himself playing it at a festival at 6pm in the evening, to a crowd made up of drunken blokes confessing their love for their ladies and women looking for love in the form of the nearest bloke with a beer in his hand and the least amount of sunburn.
With ‘Tape Deck Heart’, Turner has unleashed a revolutionary album consisting of some of the best break-up songs and hedonistic pub anthems I’ve heard in a really long time. Similar to Billy Bragg, using metaphoric lyrics to captivate listeners, balancing heartache and humour with exceptional precision, Frank Turner has just created the perfect album for a Saturday night singalong, easing you gently into a 22 track headlock from the get go.
Destined for audiences over the world to be singing, crying and laughing along with it, I’m not entirely sure which genre ‘Tape Deck Heart’ best fits into: punk, folk, indie, punk rock… Frank Turner is one of the few artists who can maintain the camaraderie of  a genre so confusingly honest that you need a bit of a laugh to accompany the strength of the truth, whilst highlighting it’s more rebellious aspects as well. It’s not everyday an album is created that makes you crave the grittiness of the truth in such a dishonest world, alongside a pint of Guinness but I’m certain Frank Turner has just come to the rescue.

IAmMusic.TV: Zach Sobiech, the coolest dude.

Today, I was sat at work complaining about some of the shitty jobs I have to do in order to pay my bills; I have a cool job and I couldn’t ask for a better manager but sometimes, the fact that I’m not spending my days writing for a huge newspaper, overlooking the New York skyline, gets to me a bit. But then I saw this link pop up on my Facebook and suddenly, everything was put into perspective :::
Zach Sobiech is an absolute hero; the link above documents his journey in a way my words could never do. At 17, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer and his life was given a deadline. Instead of putting a limit on the amount of wonder he could create, Zach dreamt big and used music as something for his family to remember him by. He created ‘Clouds’ with one of his best friends and in turn, they created something truly spectacular.
Music totally has the power to change the world and Zach’s story proves this. His family and friends will ALWAYS have something to remember him by and his legacy lives on through his creations. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from the above, it’s that you should never under-estimate the beauty of something so simple. Music is something we all take for granted, on a daily basis, but it’s also something Zach’s family and friends will never be able to listen to in the same way again. ‘Clouds’ is beautiful; it’s inspiration at it’s most raw and powerful source.
Yes, we all have bad days and sometimes, we spend a little too long focusing on the negative…this is completely normal, if you’re human. But watch the video and get to know Zach’s story; I, for one, sat in awe as I watched it and realised that it’s about time I showed some gratitude towards everything my life is about. I’m lucky I’m in the position to be able to be writing about Zach’s story, regardless of whether I’m overlooking the New York skyline or the streets of South London.
Thank you, Zach Sobiech, for creating something so amazing, so inspiring…and for letting us watch, and listen, to your story. So many hearts are being touched over the world right now, with your music.

IAmMusic.TV: Why music and religion might not be that different after all...

“And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears. Get over your hill and see what you find there, with grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.”- Mumford and Sons
Religion and music aren’t often seen to go hand in hand; John Lennon once joked about the Beatles being bigger than Christianity and it was pretty much a downward slope from then on. But aside from John Lennon’s ego, religion and music have one huge thing in common: they connect people. Going to a gig is similar to going to church: you spend 90 minutes listening to somebody relay their lives work and when you leave (perhaps in the cases of good gigs…), you feel a connection with an entity so much more powerful than your very being. My altar might happen to be the O2 and for a while, I assumed that I’d only be able to connect with people on a similar wavelength – those who felt at their most comfortable watching Alanis Morissette ‘shing’ (shout and sing…) about performing oral sex in cinemas, alcohol flowing and bodies merging into one as you became unsure of whether it was your own sweat you felt dripping down your body or the person’s next to you. But then I became acquainted with Carrie Lloyd and I realised that whether your altar happens to be a sweaty music venue or the Holy Trinity Church in South Kensington, both religion and music are ultimately about one thing: love.
Carrie has been my writing mentor for the last two years and over that time, I’ve had my entire outlook on life transformed. She’s opened my eyes to numerous points of views I would have otherwise dismissed and encouraged me to think about what the world is really all about. Alongside this, she’s taught me how to continuously learn to be a better version of myself, a nicer person and a more open minded one at that. I’ve always been interested in religion – mainly because, just like music, it manages to get each individual in a gentle headlock and shape their mindset…I’ve just never understood why sometimes this doesn’t work in everyone’s favour? I guess that’s a question that I can’t answer just yet…but with Carrie’s help, give me a couple more years and I’ll come back to you. In the meantime, if you do go to a gig and bump into a particularly nasty guy in the moshpit, maybe you could ask him why music makes him mad and let me know.
When I met Carrie, I lived in a tiny little town off the South East coast and had yet to come across a person so destined to change the world. I guess that’s why I took a interest in her; I saw her ambition, her dedication and her passion for something other than messy nights in Eastbourne town centre. With a 10 year age difference between us, I still think to myself that if I’m half of what Carrie Lloyd is like when I’m 30, I will be the happiest 29 year old on their birthday eve, ever.
So when an e-mail popped up in my inbox back in August, telling me she was planning to move to America for a year, I wasn’t shocked or surprised as I always knew that Carrie was part of the bigger picture. There’s an entire world out there for her to help and although I suddenly realised that there would now be an eight hour time difference between us, meaning ‘instant messaging’ was a thing of the past unless we both became insomniacs, I also knew, rather selfishly, that Carrie’s ‘adventure’ would benefit me because I’d be learning so much about the world without having to miss my favourite band perform at Brixton Academy. Bonus.
I found out that Carrie was to be studying at Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. Yup, I’d never heard of it before either and it does sound like something out of the Harry Potter series. Nevertheless, through Bethel, Carrie has been studying in America for the last seven months and is now about to embark on something more terrifying than losing your friends in a Pantera moshpit;-
For 13 days, Carrie is going to be amongst a group of ‘students’, all studying at Bethel, as they begin a mission that will not only change the world, but so many of the lives they come into contact with. Bethel lead mission trips every Spring to 47 different countries, with each mission differing from the next depending on the destination. In Congo, Bethel focus on helping the likes of child soldiers regain the life they’re supposed to be living, as children…not weapons of war. In East Asia, Bethel may focus on governmental provision and financial change. It’s all about making the world a better place. Which is why I love Carrie’s religion so much; what the students of Bethel are doing for the world, music does to me.
This time around, Carrie’s going to be one on a team of 51 people flying to the Philippines, where Bethel have partnered with a charity called Unlikely Heroes – a charity dedicated to the rescue of children forced into sex slavery. So far, 30 girls have been rescued and placed into a safe house. Which is where Carrie will be staying throughout this mission. Let’s focus here: I can barely look after myself. Carrie has just agreed to look after the safety of a group of girls whose reality is worse than a nightmare. That’s a lot of responsibility but I can think of nobody better. I mean, if she can provide me with writing encouragement at 3am most mornings, I know for a fact that she’s the best possible person for this mission.
I e-mailed Carrie for a little bit of an insight into the mission; I’m fascinated by all that she does, knowing it’s in the name of a greater power. We may hold different religious views but Carrie’s taught me that believing in God doesn’t necessarily mean believing in a  old guy sat in the clouds with a beard. It’s about believing in love – spreading love, giving love and teaching love. Which is exactly what she’s going to be doing in the Philippines.
For 13 days, Carrie is going to be counselling the girls who endure repeated rape, torture and brokenness on a daily basis. You’re sat there reading this on your Apple iPhone or state of the art laptop. I can’t even begin to put this into perspective.
When Hendrix performed at Woodstock in 1969, atmospheres changed. That’s exactly what happens when Bethel students embark on their missions; atmospheres change, broken hearts are healed and the world moves for everyone involved. The aim behind the missions is to change the world…it’s that simple. Using religion as an umbrella, methods of world changing madness are based around love. Just like groupies following their favourite musician, Bethel students react to what they receive from their God.
This movement was sparked last year, when Bethel students took to the slums of the Philippines and realised that through prophecies received from God, they could heal the broken hearted, the sick and the wounded. Be it trouble in a relationship, a career issue or actual physical pain, these guys have been known to change lives through the revelations they’re witness to. “It’s not about converting, it’s about saving souls as much as showing there’s a bigger entity that believes in love and wants intimacy with mankind. It’s about speaking life into someone, changing a person’s life to think an omnipotent being is looking over them so specifically that He got a couple of people to tell them that.”
Without wanting to disparage the beauty of this mission, because I think even if I wanted to, I couldn’t – there’s enough evidence that this ‘adventure’ is so selfless, inspiring and ridiculouslu beautiful that I’d be stupid to try and belittle such a thing. However, music does something similar. You know when you’ve just gone through a break-up and you hear ‘Someone Like You’ – Adele and you think, for those three minutes, that the song was written solely for you? That Adele wanted to specifically reach out and tell you everything was going to be okay because “sometimes it lasts in love but sometimes it hurts instead”? Yeah…we’ve all been there. That’s exactly what Carrie’s mission is trying to show. That when you feel alone and like things genuinely cannot get any worse…there’s always someone to hold your hand.
People begin to beg for this ‘heavenly encounter’ that Bethel students are creating; “people dance in the rain and atmospheres shift. Less crime occurs in places. Printers work. Really bizarre things happen with a team of people who just want to love and reach out. It changes world.”
Through a technique called Sozo, a freeing intense therapy which connects people back with God, Carrie is going to be changing the worlds of the girls witness to such dreadful things, helping them to have their own ‘heavenly encounter’, reminding them that they too deserve to be loved, regardless of the horrors they’ve been put through.
When Carrie sent me an e-mail about the mission, she warned me that it might be a bit too ‘God heavy’ to publicise. But this is where IAmMusic.TV differs from other publications/blogs; we believe in love and essentially, that’s exactly what Carrie is teaching on her mission. We’re not just about publicising music that touches the hearts of individuals, but publicising the actions that highlight the wonderful, crazy people that inhabit this world, making it a better place for the future generation.
“I’ve never done anything this terrifying. Some of these missions are so dangerous, that if you are accepted to go on the trip – you receive a phone call – no emails, no online evidence anywhere.” The scariest thing I’ve ever done was moving to London alone and there’s Carrie, e-mailing me about hostage situations. There are genuinely no words to describe her bravery. But then again there are also no words to describe the situation of the girls she’s going to be helping…
What I find the most fascinating about the missions Bethel host is the miracles that occur throughout. Carrie’s fully aware of my religious standing and has never tried to preach to me the wonders of her God, but I’m fairly open minded; instead of quivering in fear as Carrie describes the occurrences that take place on the mission trips, I find myself fascinated and begging for more information. It’s explanations of Raise The Dead teams (I think the title is pretty self explanatory) and miracles occurring that give me faith in the Universe. Whilst Bethel students say these unexplainable happenings are part of God’s work, I’m going to go back to one of the first lessons Carrie ever taught me: it’s just love. Be it God’s work or not, the basis of these miracles is that simple.
I guess I’m pretty lucky in the sense that I’ve been surrounded by strong, unbreakable women since a really young age. I began taking life lessons from The Spice Girls and screaming about ‘girl power’ from the age of four and along my journey, I discovered Alanis Morissette, Caitlin Moran and Carrie, herself. Through lyrics and newspaper articles, I’ve had some of the most fortifying lessons instilled in me. But the girls Carrie is going to be spending 13 days looking after haven’t. Like I said earlier, they’ve endured a lifetime of torture and haven’t been able to utilise the people around them for their own benefit. They should be listening to old P!nk albums, singing about being “too cool for school” – not being subjected to repeated rape. Which is where Carrie and her team come into this; they’re going to be healing these children, counselling them towards a life where they can then become undefeated and providing them with the tools to remain strong. “A God encounter to make them rise above their trauma and past the hurt – it’ll allow them to believe in the power of goodness, winning the battle against evil and most importantly: love.”