I had two short lived 'bands' when I was at school. The first one was a duo formed with my best friend Lucy when we were ten or eleven. We called ourselves 'Purple Moonlight' and wrote an eponymous song, which I can hazily remember the intro to. Neither of us had any sort of musical talents, but we had fun. Later on, in the middle of high school, I joined a group of girls to become the singer and tentative keyboardist of a band called 'Jeeves and the Psycho Killers'. I was Jeeves, a nickname given to me by my friend Jess, because I carried my friends' bags for them a lot. The band quickly fell apart when only one of us managed to bring an instrument to school to practice with. She wrote the one song we had, too, and it was pretty good.
Beyond failed attempts at music-making and pipe dreams of transforming into a tall man at the forefront of popular music in the 1990s, there were particular artists that shaped my formative musical atmosphere, and I would like to celebrate some of them here.
1. Pulp (and other brit pop sorts)
The whole brit pop thing was around when I was just about old enough to notice and understand it. That whole decade was wacky and childish in so many ways, so it was a fun cultural environment to actually be a child in - although it probably didn't seem so child-like at the time because it was just what was happening. But I felt some kind of kinship with the Blurs and the Pulps of the musical landscape. They were alternative enough for my sensibilities (yes, even as a six year old), but also fun enough to be immediately exciting to my tiny young brain.
2. Spice Girls
My mum wasn't best pleased by my young love of the Spice Girls, but as a slowly-enlarging amoeba, I loved them. By the time I was ten I considered myself to have outgrown them, but I can see now that they had a considerable influence on me (and I now enjoy them again because I'm not above indulging my inner child). Mel C was my favourite, and to be super serious for a minute here, I think it was so important and good for a young tomboy me to have this tomboy pop star person to admire. I always felt inspired by her, and I'm so glad she was a part of my childhood so I can feel comfortable and confident in wearing trackie bottoms and a tight ponytail whenever I want.
3. Guns N' Roses
When I was little, my mum had a huge poster of Axl Rose on the wall, and I heard a lot of Guns N' Roses when I was a small bean. They, and a few other bands my mum fixated on at the time, were a catalyst for my passionate interest in rock music, leather jackets, and motorbikes.
I feel like Nirvana are an incredibly easy band to latch onto, because they're so unique and the emotion of their songs is so present. I don't know, it’s Nirvana. My mum fell in love with them when they appeared, and so did I.
5. Def Leppard
'Hysteria' will always be one of the most important albums of my life. It's perfect in every way to me. How can I even begin to describe Def Leppard and the impact they've had on me? I feel like we should go ahead and replace mathematics with 'Def Leppard studies' in the school curriculum. The vocals and effects, the riffs, the hair and tight trousers? Everything is good about Def Leppard and I wish I could be Joe Elliott.
Other notable influences: Billie Piper (I can't resist that CGI rhino club bouncer in 'Beause We Want To'), Aaron Carter (I LOVED him and his helium voice), Roxette (I discovered a cassette tape of 'Look Sharp' and it changed my life), Steps (apparently I love disco, and also, ABBA), Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (they were always around).