Bizarrely as I was writing articles in the dark of night, I noticed that this very article published now – would be the 3,000th publically published article on Higher Plain Music. Whilst regular readers (thank you by the way) will probably know my music affinities by now, I thought it would be interesting to put together a little Q&A to tell you a little about my history with music and give some more info about me. Hopefully, it will help you understand what I look for and love in music and help you know if I’m a reviewer for you or not. Regardless, thanks for stopping by on the site.
What was the first album you bought?
The first album I bought with my own money I earned was Tanya Donelly – Love Songs for Underdogs. It was also the first CD I owned as everything before that was cassettes. I bought it because I wanted to sing the track ‘Bright Light’ at a talent show. That then became a bizarre dance and song where I was so bad it was good again and I somehow came 2nd. Gotta love a pity vote!
Before that, I used to ask for music for birthdays and Christmas presents or just harass my older brother and sister for their music collection. My brother veered from rap to metal via rock – which was where I joined in. My sister was more pop and indie.
What was your first concert?
I came to live music exceptionally late in life because my parents didn’t really value going out to do anything. I ventured to Tori Amos in 2003 for her Scarlet’s Walk tour and fell in love with hearing music live. I haven’t seen nearly as much live music as I’d like to because its the travel into London on top of the tickets that puts me off, so I try to time it with work and justify it that way!
Do you have a favourite artist or band?
That is like choosing between children. I won’t do it. It changes from day to day depending on my mood and what I’m connecting with.
Do you have a favourite album?
See above haha! That being said, Tori Amos – From the Choirgirl Hotel has probably been the most played album. Does that count?
Do you prefer to buy or stream music?
Buy! Although I now buy digitally rather than physical, I still prefer to own the music. It personally makes me feel sad when I see musicians asking me to pre-save the song on Spotify for example. I don’t feel like a play benefits the artist transactionally and I’d rather own something that rent it. It might make me a bit old school but I will buy my music for as long as I am able to. The same applies to games and films too where possible.
Do you play any instruments?
Play is a loose term but I do own and play an awful lot. I mainly play keyboards and spend a lot of time mucking out with synths. Outside of that I also love my hammered dulcimer, plucked psaltery and lots of percussion instruments. I have tablas, a djembe, little bells, frame drums, rattles and a clay udu pot. This was when I was going through my ‘I want to be a medieval world folk musician’ phase. To be fair, I’m still in it!
Then I have instruments that I’ve bought and cannot play. I can a cheap concertina that would scare children at 50 meters. I bought a Chinese violin and spent so long trying to make a sound, I hadn’t realised it was broken on arrival! I thought it was just me being awful! That looks pretty on a shelf at the moment. My prize possession that is on my to ‘learn’ list is my guzheng. I saw one on discount clearance years ago and it has been kept safe in its travel bag for several years. I just need to carve out the time to set it up and dedicate the time to it.
Ever used a song for a ring tone?
No but I have used random vocal snippets from various musicians to make custom desktop themes! When the windows error message popped up, Tori Amos’ ‘woohoo’ from Happy Phantom would shout. The recycle bin had Kate Bush ‘Eeeooorrr’ from Get Out of My House. It was that kind of thing. It lasted about two years then I was driven up the wall with it.
Any guilty pleasures?
I love to get drunk over Eurovision! Aside from that, I genuinely enjoy all the hyperactive Eurobeat music from the Dance Dance Revolution games unironically. Dam Dariam is the anthem we did not deserve.
Do you make playlists or mixtapes?
I used to do mixtapes as a kid and then mix CDs as an adult. Whilst I don’t create playlists as I don’t use a streaming service, as I have all my music collection ripped digitally, I have made sample sets for people. I’ll do it for the best releases of a year, ’20 songs to make you eat all the ice cream’, ’10 songs that make you want to scream at the world’ – delightful things like that. I’ve not done them for ages though but now I’m thinking it might be an interesting venture.
How have your music tastes changed over time?
I’ve noticed that if I like something – I’ll like it forever. Nothing seems to go out of fashion or taste for me. Instead, I’ve found myself enjoying a wider palette of sound. I’d traditionally been a rock, indie and heavy electronica guy and then game music blew my mind when I started listening to it outside of the game. Then when I got online and found much more experimental music, that opened my ears again. I also discovered world music properly online, more gothic stuff and then more recently I’ve become much more open to ambient and noise-based soundscapes too. Through it all, I always return back to my rock, indie, grungy, piano-based angst music that I adore – but I find I travel further and further from my roots as I get older. This has also made me appreciate other types of music that I don’t like still more too. For instance, I doubt I’ll ever enjoy rap – but I can appreciate how the song is made and the beat production for example.
Do you have any embarrassing music stories?
I hated driving. Detested it with a passion. It was made worse as I had been given a well-intentioned gift of a very frail car that I couldn’t fit into properly nevermind drive it. It was a Fiat Uno. The only thing that worked was the CD player and so if I ever had to use it to drive, I’d have to have music playing. I’d sing along and it would calm me down. The problem was, the car was flimsy, I’d be scared of all the other cars. Everytime I came to a roundabout – I’D BE SINGING LOUUUUUUDLY. Each junction – I’d be screaming like Lisa Gerrard bellowing her heart in Gladiator. What I didn’t realise was that everyone could hear me too – so cue plenty of amused faces and shouting as I was panic and nearly crash into myself whilst scream-singing infront of everyone. I’ve not driven for over a decade and hopefully I never will!
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