Thoughts on V Festival 2016

The great thing about a festival is the choice of who you get to see. Justin Bieber and Rihanna were two acts set to grace the main stage, but I’m not the biggest fan of either. Whilst Bieber does make good music, I can’t stand him as a person and Rihanna’s music doesn’t really appeal to me. However, with multiple stages and a comedy tent to explore, there was always someone I wanted to see.

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With Glastonbury, the artist on the line-up poster which had me jumping up and down with excitement was Two Door Cinema Club. A few months before the Worthy Farm festival I had rediscovered the band and fell in love with their music all over again, so to see them live was amazing. This time round, it was Sigala, Sia, and Eliza and the Bear.

Before I comment on those, it was also great to finally see Jess Glynne after she has released her debut album, I Cry When I Laugh. I missed out in 2015 when she pulled out of doing Glastonbury, and I went to see Pendulum instead at last year’s V Festival.  As expected, she delivered a phenomenal performance.

I was hoping that Imani Williams would appear during Sigala's set. It was brilliant to see her perform 'Say You Do' and 'Don't Need No Money'.
I was hoping that Imani Williams would appear during Sigala’s set. It was brilliant to see her perform ‘Say You Do’ and ‘Don’t Need No Money’.

As for Sigala, I’ve loved his music since Easy Love. His unique style of tropical house caught my attention and I’ve been obsessed with every new single he has released after that. He was fantastic, with his set – complete with a shack, bongos and other tropical props – mimicking his style of music. Whilst there was a hype man (the person who gets the crowd ‘hyped up’ before the beat drops), he did a great job of keeping the crowd entertained without talking too much – which I respect. Half way through his set, Sigala also did a mini DJ set, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I was surprised to see Imani Williams and Bryn Christopher make an appearance too.

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Sia is someone who is surrounded with mystery and is an artist you can’t help but be stunned by. Her voice is astounding and powerful – up there with Adele, I believe – and with her deciding to cover her face when performing in front of the cameras, she really does stand out in the music industry.

Before seeing her perform, I did wonder what her live shows would involve. I had heard a lot about her using dancers in her performances and presumed this would be the same at V Festival. After all, seeing a blindfolded singer attempt to interact with her fans for an hour wouldn’t be very entertaining. Instead, a small group of dancers took to the stage to move along to Sia’s impressive collection of songs. If anything, it was as if the Chandelier singer’s music was a soundtrack to a play. It was emotive and beautiful.

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Last, but not least, I have to talk about Eliza and the Bear. On the cusp of entering the mainstream music scene, their audience was of a reasonable size, but it was enough to get me right up to the front, which was brilliant. The banter between the band members was hilarious, their songs were wonderfully upbeat and hearty, and their stage presence was great. I’m so glad I finally got round to seeing them.

On the whole, just when I thought I’d seen everyone I wanted to see, I realised that I could never stop wanting to see more people live. V Festival was great as always, and I had a blast with friends and family.

Acts I saw: David Guetta, Justin Bieber (partly), Faithless (partly), Sia, Zara Larsson, Kaiser Chiefs, Fleur East, Sigala, Lukas Graham, Example (partly), Eliza and the Bear, DNCE (partly), Mike Posner, James Morrison (partly), Jess Glynne, Bastille, MK,  Josh Widdecombe (partly) and other comedy acts.

Did you go to V Festival this year, or perhaps you saw the coverage on MTV and Channel 5? Who were your favourite performances? Comment below!

Liam

Musical Discovery: ‘Summer on You’ by Sam Feldt x Lucas & Steve feat. Wulf (Club Edit)

A lot of songs have taken their time to grow on me lately. Whether that’s because the song isn’t something I’d usually listen to, or because I’m not in the mood for new music, it’s only after the third listen (or more) that a track starts to finally grow on me. Summer On You feat. Wulf, is one of these songs, and is this week’s Musical Discovery.

On the first few listens, I fell in love with the fuzzy synth melody, but the forgettable lyrics were enough to stop me from having this track on repeat for weeks and weeks. It was only after a few more listens that I realised that Wulf’s soft vocals create a nice juxtaposition between these verses and the loud, pulsing chorus. However, that being said, the chorus still dominates the song, with Wulf’s voice being an unimportant interlude between drops.

Most of us will remember Sam Feldt as being the DJ behind a chilled remix of Robin S’ dance classic, Show Me Love. In Summer on You, we still see this chilled style apparent in the vocals and the opening guitar strum, but for most of the song we see a different track from Feldt. In the dance/club genre at the moment, we’ve seen many tropical synth melodies, but this fuzzy tune really does stand out.

What do you think of Summer on You? Have you heard of Sam Feldt and his remix of the Robin S classic, Show Me Love? Comment below!

Liam

Definition

Wanting to create something but not knowing what is the worst. Some call this writer’s block but in terms of this blog and the feeling I’ve felt, I’m not too sure if you can call it then. It’s almost an existential crisis, as two whole days in my blogging schedule are undefined, without any specific topic. I’m someone who likes having a structure and regular themes on this blog, yet I can’t think of what, exactly.

I’ve mentioned some ideas, but I didn’t feel as though they could stretch far. However, surrounding yourself with creativity has always been the answer for me. When progress on my book stalled, going to the local pub with fellow writers led to my inspiration coming back and me writing the first few paragraphs of the novel a few days later. When my YouTube channel has died a slow death due to lacking ideas, Summer in the City is what has led to me filming two new videos this week.

I’ve talked about it a lot this week, but SitC really helped me to find my creative spark again and find new passions which I could talk about on my YouTube channel and on Wednesdays and Sundays on this blog. That one day has defined my blog once more and has ended a long blogging identity crisis. My blog is growing from strength to strength, and I couldn’t be anymore happier.

How was your week? What did you get up to? Comment below!

Liam

Why I stand with Jeremy Corbyn | The Friday Article

The enigma that is the Labour Party and its leadership debate is something I’ve always avoided and steered clear from writing about. Whilst I have a sense of the factors which come together to fuel this frustration in the left-wing party, I’m not a member of the Labour Party, nor do I have that inside knowledge about how the party operates. With that in mind, I feel as though I am an observer, and since I won’t be voting in the leadership election, I’m not the most knowledgeable person when it comes to the two candidates. However, that being said, I do have a stance and that is what I’ve decided to talk about today. I stand with Corbyn, and I think he should remain as leader of the Labour Party.

Jeremy Corbyn's honesty and integrity are admirable qualities in a heavily hostile political scene. Photo: Chris Beckett on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode.
Jeremy Corbyn’s honesty and integrity are admirable qualities in a heavily hostile political scene. Photo: Chris Beckett on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode.

For a long time, I was torn between the two parties. Labour was the party of inequality, but were forced to borrow and overspend. The Tories had strong economic principles, but I found their policies on disability to be absolutely appalling. Uncertain about Ed Miliband being a potential leader, I voted Conservative last year. However, I soon realised my mistake. Books by Owen Jones and my general frustration with the government’s running of things brought out my left-wing stance.

It wasn’t long before I started to see it: the rise of left-wing attitudes and an anti-establishment rhetoric. Unions burst back to life when Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP launched his new plans for junior doctors, the vote for Brexit was in response to big corporations influencing democracy and the planned changes to Personal Independence Payments angered most of the general public.

If it isn’t because Tory policies have affected you in some way, then most people in society desire an honest politician with integrity. Prime Minister’s Questions has descended into theatre, with the Conservatives often resorting to ad hominem attacks rather than answering the questions from the opposition. So, when Jeremy Corbyn suggested a new style of PMQs, he certainly got my respect, and probably appealed to a lot of people annoyed with the personal put-downs which dominate today’s politics.

The treatment of Jeremy Corbyn by the media and the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) shows so much about the state of both. The PLP still has Blairism lingering around, and of course, with right-wing millionaires controlling the newspapers, they’ll find any opportunity to tear apart a man with radical socialist principles. In both cases, Jeremy Corbyn poses an almost existential threat to them – be it the silencing of Blairite views under his leadership, or taxes on the rich as part of a redistribution of wealth.

One of the words which the Conservatives and the media both continued to use was ‘unelectable’. They made that comment at a time when left-wing politics didn’t appeal to the majority, and Labour still had aspects of its identity to address. But, as I’ve said, a socialist leader has emerged at a time where anti-establishment rhetoric is rising. Why couldn’t he be Prime Minister?

The argument to this would be to say that Corbyn is a respectable politician and a good man, but he is not a good leader. There are certain things which have happened under Corbyn’s leadership which is respectable, such as the boost in membership figures. However, for this point, I thought I would turn to fellow candidate, Owen Smith.

In all honesty, my knowledge of ‘famous’ Labour politicians is quite limited, and I think I wouldn’t be alone when I say that I hadn’t heard of Smith until this debate. Whilst his skills as leader may be better, I can only see him as being a continuation of a Labour party which is out of touch with working class people. It’ll be more of the same, in my opinion. People want change, and that’s in terms of both politics and the direction which the party is taking. Would Labour members rather have a leader which shifts the political debate, or continues the status quo of the party?

If anything, this debate has forced Corbyn to redefine his policies. Granted, his stance against Tory austerity is what most people know him for, but Labour supporters need the specifics. Now, as he talks about a redistribution of wealth, the public ownership of railways and more done for our National Health Service, I think Jeremy Corbyn is the closest personal representation of the anti-establishment and equalist politics which are apparent in today’s society.

Liam

Thoughts on Summer in the City 2016

As a hectic schedule combined with really bad writer’s block, my YouTube channel died a slow death a few months ago. Now, after an amazing day at the London-based YouTube convention, Summer in the City on Sunday, my passion for video making has returned.

I had the day off work, and I remembered just how great the convention was last year, so on Saturday I bought tickets to SitC. Also, since my good friend from university, Brandon, was going too, we decided to meet-up and look around together.

Without wanting to repeat what I’ve said in my YouTube video above, I went to two panels – ‘quirky is the new mainstream’ and ‘comedy online’ before looking around the stalls, watching some main stage shows and performances, and meeting so many YouTubers I admire.

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The atmosphere was electric and it certainly rubbed off on me, as I was buzzing by the end of the day and wanted to make more videos on my channel. I’ve talked in the past about finding a new interest or passion to talk about online, and SitC helped me find it. Thanks to all the creators I met, the organisers and volunteers for all coming together to make a great event.

So what will I be making videos about in the future? That’s to be revealed, but make sure you’re subscribed to my channel so you know when a new video goes up.

Grace and Amelia, also known as ‘The Mandeville Sisters’ on YouTube.

Also, on Wednesdays, I’ve decided that I should include more poetry on my blog. If this little corner on the Internet is meant to be my online portfolio, then it’s about time I returned to writing poems – something I haven’t done in such a long time.


But anyway, when it comes to SitC, it has been phenomenal. From the panels, to the stalls, to the fellow creators, inspiration and kindness was everywhere and it was a great experience.

Have you been to Summer in the City before? Did you go this year? What did you think? Comment below!

Liam

Musical Discovery: ‘Hymn for the Weekend’ by Coldplay (Seeb Remix)

With their remix of Mike Posner’s I Took A Pill in Ibiza, Seeb tapped into a heavily populated tropical house scene and offered something different. Their soft synth melodies, combined with unusual sound effects, was a style which spoke to music fans who wanted something different and saw their version of the track go all the way to number one. Now, their bouncy, off-beat style returns in a remix of Coldplay’s Hymn for the Weekend, which is this week’s Musical Discovery.

First of all, Seeb cut straight to the chase. In the original, it takes 32 seconds before we hear the backing instrumentals. Granted, Beyoncé’s humming vocals are interesting, but without no coherent lyrics or rhythm, it just didn’t appeal to me. In this remix, Chris Martin’s voice is introduced immediately, alongside upbeat synths which will remind listeners of their remix of I Took A Pill of Ibiza. However, this time, we are faced with something completely different. We hear brief audio samples from Martin combined with more unusual electronic effects, rather than a remix of the original chorus.

What is also admirable is how much of the original track is apparent in the remix. The vocals remain unscathed, with only the backing instruments being adapted and edited. Even the ending of this version mimics Beyonce’s calm and euphoric finish in the original, bringing a wonderfully euphoric version of the Coldplay single to a close.

What do you think of Seeb’s remix of Hymn for the Weekend? Do you prefer the original? Is it better than I Took A Pill in Ibiza? Comment below!

Liam

Written gratitude | Thoughts on four years of blogging

Gratitude is hard to express through words. Sure, I could say thank you 100 times and throw in the odd exclamation mark here and there, but this wouldn’t show just how much having a blog and a strong readership has meant to me over the past four years since I set up The Life of a Thinker on the 12th August 2012.

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Nevertheless, thank you. My fourth year of blogging has brought about an identity change. I look back at my first post and cringe at a lot of things: the naive idea that I would be the next big thing, the god-awful photos and the notion that people would find a post about funny pub signs in Cornwall interesting – don’t ask.

Only until recently did I realise that this just wasn’t right. I created this blog to help me improve my journalism and open up opportunities for work experience in the industry. Potential employers – and my readers too, for that matter – did not want to see posts about blog awards or NaNoWriMo. These were just rushed posts at a time when I didn’t bother to proofread, and didn’t think about content which people actually wanted to read.

Now, before anyone says that I should write for myself (which is, by the way, true), journalism is all about creating the content which is easy to share, readable and prompts interaction. It’s why I replaced my self-centred Friday Articles with opinion pieces and no longer accept guest posts – as mentioned in this post.

In Wavelengths and Automation, I talked about how The Life of a Thinker has shifted towards a more journalistic style, which has led to my blogging personality being restrained in some sense. However, I’ve come to realise that this style – almost treating my blog as a business – is the perfect way to demonstrate my writing to others. But, at the same time, I did worry that my readership would be affected. Did people come to my blog for my personality?

Even if I did, my new content attracted a fresh readership. I was having fellow bloggers tweeting me saying they found my posts interesting, and they began to share my posts. In the past, I never had this level of engagement. Now, I’ve had up and coming bands ask me to feature their music, brands have asked for sponsored posts and I have regular readers. Thank you all.

In 2012, I called this blog The Life of a Thinker as a pretentious way of saying my views mattered. Since then, I’ve constantly joked about how self-centred I was back then, and I’ve called this blog name into question. I wasn’t really talking about my life that often, and my posts didn’t really tie into the connotations of The Life of a Thinker. A blogging identity crisis ensued, but now I finally know what it all means.

The Life of a Thinker is a blog where I share my thoughts through reviews and opinion pieces in an attempt to practise my journalism and get other people thinking.

Thank you all so much for your support over the four years, and I hope you continue enjoying my posts in the future.

What have been your favourite posts on The Life of a Thinker? How long have you been reading my blog? What do you want to see on this site in the future? Comment below!

Liam