Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Guest Post:- Of Swapping Albums & Everything Being All About the Music

An UNdane guest post, by Lucy Blakeley

"Mom and dad they quite don't understand it,
All the kids they laugh as if they planned it
Why do girls wanna pierce their nose,
And walk around in torn pantyhose, oh yeah

I like the ones who say they listen to the punk rock
I like the kids who fight against how they were brought up
They hate the trends and think it's f***ed to care,
It's cool when they p*** people off with what they wear, oh yeah"

- Blink 182, Give Me One Good Reason
 Pop Punk. I don't think it's a music genre that really exists anymore. Does it? I haven't got a clue. I worked in HMV last Christmas to scrape some money together and when a small girl asked me if I preferred The Wanted or One Direction, I had to admit I didn't know who either of them were, but would she like a JLS poster?  Considering I have a degree in Popular Music, my knowledge of what's popular now is pretty poor.
I'm probably officially old now, being closer to 30 than I am 20. That's okay though. I know I'm old because the music I loved as a teenager now sounds dated, in the same way your parents' old music would sound in the car on long road trips.

It sounds dated, but to me it still sounds as exciting and vibrant it did when I was 15 years old. I'm writing about pop punk because today, on a very grey September day, it's bringing me the golden Autumn sunlight that should be pouring into this room. My cousin and I have this tradition, where every Autumn we make a pop punk playlist and listen to it whilst texting each other memories of being 15 and our favourite lyrics. The biggest 'pop punk Autumn' song is Denial, Revisited by The Offspring. As soon as I hear the opening riff, I am transported to my 15 year old self. She's wearing huge baggy jeans that only cost £10 from a place called Raphael's, a tiny room above a dance shop where a haggard old woman with a permanent cigarette hanging from her lip would make jeans of any specification for £10. Because SoHo jeans were the ultimate baggies but also cost £40, all the moshers, goths, skaters and pop punk kids would go to Raph's for their baggies. It was like a secret club; everyone would meet outside the huge emporium we called Quiggins, full of shops selling alternative clothes, posters, patches and pretty much anything you could imagine. We'd all walk to Raph's, an army of excitable teens adorned with plastic bracelets and skate shoes and chains... and feel really exclusive.
Lucy fronting Elle S'appelle at the Camden Crawl in 2008

Those songs remind me of the meticulous mix tapes, and later MiniDisc playlists I would make. Crafted to reflect the mood of whatever I was doing, whether it was for journeys to and from school on the bus or a longer journey to Liverpool... or for waiting for a doctor's appointment. They remind me of the times where I was happy to sit on a bus for hours and not end up in a blind panic like I would now I'm so used to my car. They remind me of first falling in love with Autumn, the promise of a new year at school and the way the light would change from brash and white to soft and golden. My new school bag, tirelessly adorned with badges and patches and tippex. The song lyrics I would print out and plaster my folders with before applying layers and layers of Sellotape on top. Of swapping albums and everything being all about the music. Of parties with MTV on in the background, watching Sum 41 mess around in an empty swimming pool and wishing so badly my parents would get Sky so I could watch the music channels. It reminds me of later years spent walking the beautiful old Georgian grounds of my university, dressed in corduroy skirts and checked skirts and jumpers because that's how I thought I should dress as a student... not quite able to believe I was actually here, at uni, and I was somehow clever enough to get here to study the one thing I love above everything - music.
I still wear corduroy skirts and checked shirts and jumpers now.

Ever since those golden days, I have revisited these songs each Autumn. My cousin now lives in London and we don't speak as much as we used to, but we still have a bond over this stuff. We still instinctively text each other when the time feels right to dig out our old music. I think once you have loved a type of music, you never really stop loving it. Your tastes may grow and evolve, but you always have a place for it in your head.
It's an age old phenomenon that's often written about by pensive bloggers from their couches, like me, but music is the most potent reminder. Music can carry smells, warmth, skipped heartbeats and it can make you stop in your tracks when you remember something you’d forgotten had happened.

And so as I continue to fight through one of the worst years of my entire life, I am concentrating on the things that bring me back to golden Autumn days. They have always been my favourite. Pop punk is the tiny light poking through the mundane reality of grey days spent unemployed and recovering from an illness. Pop punk represents a time of being carefree, of having few worries and not having to do things like food shopping and de-mould the bathroom. Of living with my parents and secretly believing they were super heroes and could always make everything okay again. Of breathing in the crisp morning air knowing that I would have Halloween parties, bonfire night, fireworks and Christmas to look forward to. The excitement of a new pair of Vans skate shoes or a new colour of Converse knew no bounds.
 My favourite thing is the hangovers I'm left with from my time as a pop punk kid. I've always stuck with alternative music and always been drawn to anything with guitars. I've since loved Converse and always owned at least one pair. I suppose I have evolved into what a 26 year old version of a pop punk kid should be - not totally mainstream and still with a few fingers in the pies of crafts, photography and tattoos. Though I do totally rock a chintz obsession, which I didn't see coming when everything I wore was baggy and dark. I love the way music leaves its own tattoos on us; the way we dress, our future tastes and the hobbies we take up. I spent my whole degree writing about this stuff and I could easily do it for another 3 years - it fascinates me the way music shapes us and even the paths we choose.

 I would say pop punk is the type of music that brings me the most potent memories, of the most fun times and of when I was growing into who I am today. What's yours?

Lucy Blakeley is a washed up pop star already at the age of 26, and thinks she is one of the few people allowed to say the phrase 'music is my life'. She did her degree in Popular Music (yes, this is a real subject) and was in a band called Elle s'appelle. They had some moderate success with a single release, Radio 1 sessions and a set at Glastonbury 2008 but it all ended just after she turned 22. Since then she has played in other bands in her spare time (Hackney Carriages/The Winter Falls) and has recently been allowed to move her piano into her boyfriend's house. She is currently finding her place in the world now she's done the pop star thing, and in the meantime is filling the void with plenty of other people's music, tea, chintz, cooking, baking and thinking about trying to learn how to play the ukulele.

Photographs by Iris Jones Photography
Photograph of Lucy & tea courtesy of Lucy Blakeley