Monday, 8 October 2012

Music Monday: Q&A with Janet (me!)

I thought I'd start the ball rolling with these music interviews.  Over the next few months I have a range of guest writers lined up to tell me about their musical memories and share some tracks, but I'm always looking for people contribute so let me know if you'd like to be involved.

What was the first gig you went to?
When asked, I tell people it was Elastica at Leeds Met Uni, in about 1994 or 1995.  But actually, that was my second gig.  The first was Take That at Bradford St Georges Hall, where I screamed so loudly I couldn't talk for days.  The Elastica gig began an obsession with live music: I went to so many gigs during my A Levels that I basically failed half of my subjects.  It turns out that spending my nights in dingy, beer-soaked venues in Leeds or Manchester, rather than completing coursework, was not conducive to success in Geography or Design Tech courses; who'd have thought?  By my mid-twenties I'd started slacking off somewhat, but the last five years I've been going to more gigs again, and seen some incredible shows.  My hallway is lined with ticket collages in frames, a nice reminder of the bands I've seen and loved.

What song reminds you of being a teenager?
Anything from the Manic Street Preachers’ first three albums.  Also Rage Against The Machine’s Killing In The Name Of: how much was that, “fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me” refrain designed for sulky teens?!  My mum never tried to tell me what to do (apart from the very reasonable, “wash up” or “do your homework” requests) and yet I’d put it on full volume and rail against the oppression I was suffering!  My poor mother.

What song will always get you on the dance floor?

Test Icicles’ Circle Square Triangle, anything by Late Of The Pier, Mens Needs by The Cribs, and Boogie Wonderland by Earth, Wind & Fire (that bit that slows down and goes, “All the love in the world can’t be wrong…”?  Musical perfection).

What song makes you cry?

The whole of Beck’s Sea Change album, it’s just such a sad and depressing – but beautiful – record.
Last Goodbye by Jeff Buckley and, slightly less cool, Changes by Will Young, both for the reasons outlined here.
What are your top five favourite bands/artists of all time?
 In no particular order...

1. The Smashing Pumpkins.  Their lyrics are hopelessly juvenile and their music bloated and often ridiculous, but I adore them.  I even like Billy Corgan's side project, Zwan.  Their Siamese Dream record is my favourite album of all time.  I’ve gone through three copies over the last twenty years, all worn out and scratched to bits (remember when CDs came out and they said you could use them as Frisbees and spread jam on them, and they’d still work?  They lied!).  My music tastes, and the bands I’ve been obsessed with, have fluctuated over the years – one year it was all about De La Soul, another it was Dusty Springfield – but the Smashing Pumpkins have always endured.

2. Joanna Newsom who, my brother Richard will take great delight in telling you (probably in the comments section) I used to dismiss as unlistenable.  Her voice is undoubtably an acquired taste, but I love her now.  My favourite tracks are Cosmia and Only Skin - both from the Ys album - and Sprout & The Bean from The Milk-Eyed Mender.

3. Sufjan Stevens.  I have been to literally thousands of gigs over the past twenty years, and I have never seen anything quite as extraordinary, accomplished and moving as Stevens' show at Manchester Apollo last May.  I still can't quite get my head round his BQE project (a concept album about an expressway in Brooklyn), but I'll listen to pretty much anything else he commits to tape.  Impossible Soul, from the  2010 album The Age Of Adz, is a 25 minute opus that takes in R&B, acoustic folk, funk and more - and is as ludicrous as it sounds - but it makes me happier and more joyful than almost anything else in my music collection.

4. Fleet Foxes.  Only two albums released, and they're both perfection.

5. A really difficult one, this.  The last three artists are all quite recent obsessions, in the context of twenty years of music fandom.  Over the years my 'favourite' bands have included Nirvana, the Manic Street Preachers, Radiohead, Ash (one year I saw them nine times), Gene (how I loved them), The Smiths... but I think my final choice is Ben Folds Five.  I am so excited about seeing the reformed line-up in December!

Do you have any guilty pleasures when it comes to music?
I make no secret of loving me some really cheesy pop.  My latest guilty pleasure is Euphoria by Loreen, which won Eurovision for Sweden earlier this year.  It's just a lovely slice of uplifting dance-pop, and it makes me happy.

If you could sum yourself up in one song or lyric, what would it be?
A Smashing Pumpkins lyric, from Muzzle: "I fear that I am ordinary, just like everyone."


  1. I love the Smashing Pumpkins. In fact, I think our musical tastes are pretty similar. Joanna Newsome is beautiful. I've never heard anything quite like her.

    1. She's so unique: when I saw her play live she had the whole theatre sitting silent for two hours, it was incredible.

    2. Oh, I'm so jealous. I would love to see her live! I haven't seen a band live in such a long time.

      I love the questions by the way - it's a great idea!

    3. Cheers - feel free to use them on your blog. Or, even better, answer them for me as a guest poster!!

    4. I'd love to do it for you - just let me know when you need them answered for and I'll do it (probably at 3am, so hopefully they will be coherent!). I often find tramadol hazes the most creative of times! Hehe.

  2. They are good questions! I have probably seen Ash more than any other band (er should i admit that? Yes i should because those gigs were FUN!) But that same Sufjan Stevens gig was one of my all-time highs. I wish I'd seen Elastica live as well :) I still seem to listen to Nirvana on quite a regular basis on my iPod, for some reason it seems to suit my mood when on the bus to work in the morning, ha!

    1. Glad I'm not the only one who's seen Ash a ludicrous amount of times. Last time I saw them, in Loughborough about 2 years ago, they were STILL the best fun ever!

  3. Really enjoyed reading the blog, it takes me back to some great times, especially at Sector 5 on Saturday nights. It was the mention of Gene that captured my attention though, the favourite band of my wife Jane and I. We seen them live 5 or 6 times and each time the venue and tours got smaller (usually the Princess Charlotte) until the final tour was 1 show at London's Forum where the support act was Irvine Welsh, bizarre but great as ever. "Drawn to the Deep End" is probably still in my top 5 albums. Last I heard, Nartin Rossiter was a vocal coach in Brighton.

    1. Ah - Sector on a Saturday, good times!! Have you heard Martin's new single on 6 Music? I did a little fangirl squeal when I heard he was releasing new stuff.