Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Play To Z: Where Does It All Come From?

We're halfway through my music collection now (baring any sudden donations or downloading sprees) and as I was writing up my last few entries I began thinking about a very fundamental question - where did my music taste come from?

I didn't grow up in a musical house. Neither of my parents care much about music; I think between them they own perhaps 40 albums, and rarely listen to any of them, and as far as radio goes, the dial moves between Radio 4 and Radio Norfolk with little deviation. Back in her youth, my mum saw bands like The Rolling Stones and Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich live but never spoke a great deal about them, and my dad grew up in a pre-pop music era.

My sister did listen to music, but she was (and remains) seven years older than me, and we've always had very different taste in pretty much everything. My memories of her musical taste in my formative years go East 17 -> Guns 'n' Roses -> Anything the Ministry of Sound recommended. None of them exactly exploded my young mind with the possibilities of music.

One of the biggest impacts on my young brain was the radio. I remember getting a clock radio when I was about 8 and tuning it in for the first time, looking for the first station that played anything "modern". I ended up on Broadland 102.4, our local commercial radio station (who knows how life would have been if I'd turned the dial the other way and ended up on Radio 1) and stuck with them for several years. They played a pretty standard mix of chart pop and 80s/early 90s hits, and laid the foundations for me coming back to pop music several years later after some misguided teenage rockism.

My love of music only really took off in sixth form (that's 16-18 for non-Brits). Before that, I'd listened to what friends said was good or mainstream rock without really ever giving it any thought, or feeling inspired by it (this was the age of nu-metal, so there wasn't exactly anything inspiring out there).

Once I'd escaped my old high school and some not-exactly-healthy friendships, I started exploring music a little. I went through a phase of buying albums by artists I didn't know on the strength of one song. I watched High Fidelity and Grosse Point Blank, both of which informed my taste a lot. I started going to gigs, mainly thanks to friends who knew more than me, and discovered the joys of live music.

Still, my taste has ended up very different to a lot of my friends, even though I take their recommendations to heart. Some of my favourite bands and artists were discovered in most unusual ways. I found Broken Social Scene based on a webcartoonist's recommendation; Beck came from watching the Futurama episode he was in; Death Cab For Cutie was due to, I think, hearing their name mentioned in The OC. It's not exactly the opening scene to Almost Famous.

I can only say that my taste in music matches my taste in most other things: I like emotional honesty that doesn't stray too far into melodrama or naked exhibitionism. I like intelligent writing that thinks about themes and patterns. I like people who don't take themselves too seriously. And I think you can make something exciting, accessible and popular without sacrificing any of those things.

And I'll never stop looking for new things to love.

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