What does music mean to me?

I’ve been surrounded by music my entire life. My family always had the radio on while cooking or a CD on while driving. In the car, it would be Razorlight or Kings of Leon with Mum but with Dad it would be Queen or The Prodigy. I could easily remember jingles from ads or TV show theme songs. However, this is all just background noise. I got a tape recorder and a CD player respectively at a young age. I would always be listening and singing along; I even held a singing competition in my room using my stuffed toys as contestants. Music back then was a way to pass the time, an activity to do on weekends or long car journeys. However, it was getting an iPod that changed how I listened and why.

I got one when I was 11 (along with a flip phone – those were the days) as I was going to boarding school and needed something to keep me company on long flights. I uploaded every CD that I owned onto that silver iPod Classic and quickly became obsessed. Now I could listen to whatever I wanted, as loud as I wanted, whenever I wanted to. I could hardly tear myself away from it while I was in class. As I got older, this remained the case. There were casualties, of course (rest in peace all the headphones and iPods lost in water-related accidents) but music remained a strong influence. Talking with friends introduced me to new music: Mika, Owl City, 3Oh!3 and more. I also got into anime about this time, which meant lots of opening and ending themes with a dash of J-Pop. I was so proud when I learned how to sing along to each one perfectly (god bless people who uploaded not pitched lyric videos to YouTube).

Here comes the puberty train! Sudden growth spurts, mood swings and spots galore all hit me like a ton of bricks from age twelve. Back then you just feel so many things at once and for no reason which, paired with all the teenage drama and petty school squabbles, could make life seem unbearable at times. Once again, music stepped in. It helped me find the words to describe and understand how I was feeling and occasionally express these things to others. I often made playlists for different moods, books and even anime characters. It was kind of like being in charge of the soundtrack of my life, which made things easier. I go back and listen to a lot of these and feel an intense nostalgia.

Then came my GCSEs and A Levels. A time for freaking out, writing masses of revision cards in pretty colours and procrastinating with everything you have. This crucial period was eased with the help of instrumental music. Movie and anime soundtracks were vital for helping me focus on work instead of going on Quizilla or reading fan fiction. The happier tunes would cheer me up and give me the illusion that I wasn’t working. Intense battle music utilised my anxiety and made me work harder, working under imagined pressure. Listening to music while working is something I still do today, depending on the work, but sometimes it’s nice to study in silence.

In the interim between finishing my A-Levels and going to university I secured a job as a freelance music journalist for the online music blog Never Enough Notes. I would receive a list of bands or singles to review with a deadline and pick which ones I liked to write about. Here, a lot of underground music was brought to my attention. Artists such as KYKO, Corbu and Josh Newell-Brown found their way into my life. However, I didn’t just listen to them for pleasure; I had to pick them apart, analyse them, judge them according to the whims of my audience. If I liked them, I would praise them endlessly. If I hated them, I would express it tactfully, but still wish them luck and encourage my readers to listen anyway. It honed my critical skills and also gave me new genres to explore. I worked with Never Enough Notes for over three years and value everything that they taught me.

Finally, the University years rolled around. Music accompanied me to parties, pre-drinks and dates, taking on a whole new role: mood-setting. Terrifying and exhilarating, I remember having a special ‘You Can Do This!’ playlist consisting of ‘Go The Distance’ from Hercules, ‘Strangers Like Me’ from Tarzan and ‘Learn To Do It’ from Anastasia, among others, that I listened to on the drive to halls for Fresher’s Week. I went to Student Union events such as Detention, an alternative music night, which gave me my love of ‘Mr Brightside’, which I never knew the words to or cared about until then. I also listened to music while working out and cleaning, something I’d never really done before. I took my iPod to the library to study to and listened to music for writing inspiration or character construction. My new friends came with new music tastes, introducing me to the likes of Panic! At The Disco, the Hamilton: An American Musical soundtrack and Ninja Sex Party. If anyone has a spare Hamilton ticket, I will happily take it off of your hands.

In one way or another, music has shaped my life. From memory making, to motivating, to mood-setting, music has been there for me. It means so much to me and I cannot imagine my life without it. My iPod is one of my most prized possessions for a reason. Music means all of the above to me and more. I can’t wait to see where it will take me next.

Let me know if you have any music recommendations or thoughts by commenting below!