Musical Discovery: ‘September Song’ by JP Cooper

After his number two hit with Jonas Blue, it’s no surprise that JP Cooper’s follow-up single continues the laid-back vibe which made Perfect Strangers such a successful release. With minimalistic instrumentals (including bouncy, marimba-sounding synths and intricate guitar plucking), it fits into the textbook tropical house whilst allowing for some blissful originality.

After all, with Jonas Blue’s electronica somewhat interfering with JP Cooper’s vocals on Perfect Strangers, there wasn’t much of an opportunity for listeners to hear much of Cooper’s raw voice. Thankfully, with September Song‘s melody being saved for the chorus, the calming verses really enable the singer to show off his unique soul.

With the occasional high note alongside fuzzy, humming tones, JP is free from the restraints that come with a featured artist slot on a dance track. Cooper sticks to familiar ground on this single, introducing listeners to his unique sound, and it will be interesting to see which direction the singer takes his music next.

It may not be September, but JP Cooper’s latest release is the perfect chilled song to listen to on a February evening, or in the middle of summer.

 

 

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The ‘cure’ for deafness is something which could damage the deaf community at its core | The Friday Article

What would you do if you were offered the opportunity to redefine your identity? It’s an existential question akin to that of the blue and red pills from The Matrix, but is something which those in the deaf community may have to consider in the future.

Earlier this week, it was reported that a jab or injection into the inner ear could encourage the growth of hair cells, essentially restoring some of an individual’s hearing. As the debate around cochlear implant users and whether they are a part of the community continues to bubble and boil in the background, a far more serious discussion is set to rock Deaf culture to its core: what does it mean to be deaf?

Photo: Darelle on Pixabay (Public Domain).

After all, the view of deafness within the community has always been about having deafness at some point in your life. Hearing aids (HAs) and cochlear implants (CIs) can only aid hearing, and is not a ‘cure’ (something of which some hearing people need to be reminded). However, this is the first time a cure has been developed, which could see people leave the community as hearing people. Yet, what happens to their identity? Can the exception given to HA and CI users – that they were born deaf and the technology only helps them hear – be applied to those who could be ‘cured’ by this possible treatment? Their original identity was as a deaf person, so would that be completely erased or would that still remain as a small, old aspect of their new personality?

Identity is a very personal thing – we subscribe ourselves to a culture and say we are a member of a community ourselves, as most subcultures welcome anyone who shares that same ‘label’ or characteristic in society. Yet, the deaf community feels more exclusive. A restricted code in the form of sign language prevents some individuals from accessing the culture and, as previously stated, the community is constantly arguing over whether to accept certain people on the deaf/hearing spectrum. It’s certainly one of the negative discussions amongst what is otherwise a very passionate and loving culture, which could be made worse when the deaf community has to decide whether a ‘cured’ deaf person can still join the community.

There’s a slight hostility in the deaf community over certain issues, and this will no doubt be a future topic up for discussion as more news emerges. If the Deaf culture wishes to be more inclusive, it must respect everyone’s individual decision should this new treatment be offered to them and lower its guard when it comes to British Sign Language. The community has somewhat created poor deaf awareness, division and separation by failing to recognise hearing and deafness as being on a spectrum – instead seeing it as more black and white. A big challenge to Deaf culture is coming, and we must be prepared to have a civilised and respectful debate about its repercussions.

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On a more personal note, I would consider the treatment, should it get to that stage. As an aspiring journalist looking to work in an industry which is very audio-based (eg. transcribing interviews, ringing contacts on the phone, taking down shorthand notes and so forth), there’s certain barriers caused by deafness which is quite a nuisance. That being said, a human life is more than just what happens in the workplace, and so it’s a question of how being ‘cured’ of my hearing loss would impact relationships – would my connections with deaf people and organisations working with them feel genuine? As I mention above, it’s a question loaded with existentialism, forcing deaf people to consider whether to reinvent themselves.

There are also two other things to consider: we must not let this possible future treatment become the presumed option. A current issue in the community at the moment is when parents decide to give their child HAs or CIs before they are old enough to make that decision themselves. We must remember that we should allow the individual themselves the opportunity to choose whether they want to be deaf or not. Assuming that everyone wouldn’t want to be deaf is harmful, dangerous, and poses an existential threat to the global deaf community.

Lastly, I’ll be curious to see if this ‘cure’ could also pave the way for treatment for tinnitus. Whilst I would have to consider the decision to have the jab and ‘cure’ my deafness, I wouldn’t hesitate in taking a drug which can get rid of the annoying ringing in my air.

I shall keep an eye on the study with interest.

Musical Discovery: ‘Fools’ by Lauren Aquilina

Lauren Aquilina is a name I’ve often seen mentioned in tweets on Twitter or elsewhere online, but I never thought to listen to her music – until now. With a humble, warm singer-songwriter sound similar to that of Gabrielle Aplin, I was disappointed that I hadn’t listened to one of her earlier tracks, Fools, sooner.

There’s something about Lauren’s vocals that leads to you imagining yourself lying down on a deckchair listening to this track, or standing watching her perform it in a festival environment. It’s that mellow style of music which calms those who listens to it, rather than boring them.

With light piano melodies and bouncy bass riffs to begin with, the instrumentals are there purely for rhythmic purposes. The emphasis is truly placed on Aquilina’s voice, which is equally as soft. Although timid, that is not to say that it lacks power. Atmospheric drums build the tone for the chorus, telling the listener to pay attention. They are rewarded with occasional high notes and pure soul to add to a relaxing song. If pop’s white noise becomes too much, then the calming voice of Lauren Aquilina is the perfect alternative.

After looking more into Lauren’s music, I saw that she released her debut album, Isn’t it Strange? in 2016. Now follows the excitement that comes with discovering a new artist: I can now continue to discover more of their great music. I look forward to listening to the album in the future.

 

Where I stand on sport…

It’s a typical ice-breaker question I don’t like to be asked: which football team do you support?

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Lincoln City Football Club made history in their match against Burnley this weekend. Photo: blogdroed on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode.

England is the easy answer – everyone unites over patriotism. It’s when you’re forced to name a local team that I struggle, because sport doesn’t interest me.

Well, that is when it’s a sports story. When a football team transcends the back page of a newspaper and becomes a news story, that’s when I pay attention.

This shift from sports to news happened yesterday, when Lincoln City won against Burnley and became the first non-league club to get to the FA Cup quarter-finals since 1914.

As a second year journalism student at the University of Lincoln, there’s that ‘second home’ feeling which really makes me proud to be studying in the city at a time when history was made. Talk of an ordinary match would probably remain with football fans, but greater success often leads to the whole community getting behind them, regardless of how much they like football.

So whilst I’m not the biggest sports fan, I have reported on football news whilst in Lincoln and as with any skill, it’s something I’ll look to improve upon when opportunities arise. But for now, it’s worth saying a big congratulations to Danny Cowley and the players at Lincoln City Football Club. Up the Imps!

Donald Trump’s state visit: why it should go ahead | The Friday Article

It’s an underlying democratic issue which was partly responsible for the polls being wrong and Donald Trump’s election as the 46th US President. Left-wingers and liberals shut down the political debate by labelling Trump supporters as ‘racist’, ‘sexist’ and so forth, to the extent where the only safe place to share their opinion is in the voting booth. Now, as Parliament debates Donald Trump’s state visit on Monday, Stop Trump demonstrators will protest on Parliament Square ‘to stand up and say no to the future of hatred, racism and division that Donald Trump is trying to create – and to say no to the disgraceful complicity of Theresa May and the British government in supporting him’. Whilst the Facebook page doesn’t state explicitly whether this protest is also against the state visit, with regards to the petition, you have to ask: will preventing him from making a state visit to the UK do more harm than simply inviting him here to speak?

Photo: Gage Skidmore on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode.
Photo: Gage Skidmore on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode.

Of course, it must be said that this article is not condoning Trump’s divisive nature. Instead, it calls for us to return to honest political debate. Already in the UK, we have seen newspapers banned on university campuses and left-wingers continue to ban and cut off the views from the far-right. Isn’t a petition preventing Trump from airing his opinions the same thing, and damages our democracy?

Granted, allowing the far-right president to visit the UK could result in Britain’s right-wing populism gaining strength, but surely protests during his visit will be the biggest sign of defiance against these people, and Trump’s beliefs? Which sends the strongest message to him: a U-turn on his state visit, or the British people allowing him a platform for his views, but them being met with strong opposition? The former shows a sheer ignorance towards opposing views, whilst the latter demonstrates that we are an open society which allows for these views to be challenged. To go back to the point of Trump’s potential visit further dividing the UK, a nationwide protest against the figure presents an opportunity for unity. Although that sense of coming together may still be seen in the number of signatures on the petition preventing him from making a visit, a demonstration is a more visible sign of cohesion.

Should the state visit be called off, would that mean that Trump is prevented from making any sort of visit to the UK during his four-year presidency? Aside from this posing a risk to the ‘special relationship’ buzzword Theresa May likes to use, preventing controversial views from being said in Britain would create a slight feeling of isolationism similar to that which Trump is adopting in America itself. Donald’s cries of ‘fake news’ at press organisations which he disagrees with discredit the journalists who scrutinise his position of authority – surely preventing Trump from stating his opposing views is an alarming parallel to this?

Special Features

On Monday, I published my first feature on my blog. It was about the Italian singer Ginny Vee, and it flexed a different writing muscle I haven’t used on this site before: feature writing.

In the past, the only journalistic pieces I have published on The Life of a Thinker are music reviews and opinion posts. For a long time now, this blog has enabled me to improve my writing when it comes to these two particular types of articles. There’s no denying that running a platform to convey your opinions to the world helps you both personally and professionally.

My blog’s progression into an online journalism portfolio is going slowly, but there’s clear signs of it moving in the right direction. Incredible PR opportunities have come my way, I’ve written for a variety of other blogs and my daily stats have grown since when I first started (20-30 views a day are now 40+ views a day). Abandoning the typical lifestyle topics have clearly done my blog some favours, but this is at the expense of Wednesday and Sunday posts still lacking a particular theme.

This brings me back to features, and an idea I’ve been considering for a while. For me, the best features are ones which shine a light on an individual – one aspect of their personality shining through and being the centrepiece for the article. I’d love to do more of them, but finding the time to arrange interviews and write the feature would probably mean that they won’t be a regular theme on my blog.

Cue an idea I’ve had, which I’d love your thoughts on. The blogging community is large, and there’s no doubt that there’s a long list of potential bloggers to interview for a feature. Therefore, I thought it might be interesting to attempt to write an article on a different blogger every week. The piece will enable us to find out a little bit more about a blogger, they get to introduce their blog to my audience and I get to practice my feature writing.

At the moment, this idea remains unconfirmed, but is something which I am putting out there. If you are interested in possibly doing this, or if you’d like to see these features on my blog, then let me know by leaving a comment below.

Ginny Vee talks about her euphoric new single, ‘Give Me Dynamite’

From modelling to acting and TV presenting, Italian singer Ginny Vee has tried her hand at a variety of professions before pursuing her passion for music. Now, she tells Liam O’Dell more about her journey so far – up to the release of her latest single, Give Me Dynamite.

A career in the music industry is something Ginny Vee wanted since she was little – helped by the fact that her grandmother was an opera singer and piano teacher. However, Ginny’s path to her dream job saw her follow a tough road.

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One problem emerged after Ginny talked about her passion to her parents, who wanted her to have a secure life. “The thing was, I didn’t want to disappoint them, of course,” she explains. “So that’s why I went to law school and I went for different jobs at the beginning.

“The thing is, it was so strong inside me – the feeling that it was the right thing to do – that when I really sat down, talked to them and talked through all of my feelings, I explained to them why it was so important that I needed to follow this career. They understood.”

Did they understand immediately? “It took quite a bit,” she admits. “The real change happened when they came to see me singing in a live concert. They saw how happy I was to be on stage – how free I was performing and enjoying the feeling, the connection between me and the people. They saw that it was the right thing for me.”

Ginny’s music career so far has seen her spend seven years working with three other singers in the cover band, Belle Ma Belle, before going solo later. In 2014, she released her EP, Heaven n Back.

“I was experimenting a bit,” Ginny explains. “I was studying my style, trying to figure out which one was the best style for me. So recently, I signed with Subside Records’ Mind the Floor, and they are more into EDM and tropical house.

“I gave it a shot. We looked at several songs together and when I heard this one – Give Me Dynamite – I thought it was a really good song. I thought it was just the right one to go for this year. It felt very actual, very modern, and I really liked the feeling of it, so I wanted to try something different.”

Give Me Dynamite has the sound of a traditional Europop single: punchy chords, tropical synths and a catchy chorus all make up a bubbly single to prepare you for summer. With euphoric instrumentals placed under lyrics such as ‘love to hate you’ and ‘want another black eye’ – it’s an interesting juxtaposition.

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‘Give Me Dynamite’ is out now.

“That’s the first impression you could have – ‘love to hate you’ is something very strong to say,” Ginny says. “Basically, what is underneath is a story. It’s a love story that ended not very well, but actually, the meaning of it is this girl… She still really believes in the fact that the story shouldn’t end, because the great thing in that story with the guy was the fact that they were fighting.

“So actually, it’s a positive thing about that,” Ginny explains.

As well as Vee providing vocals, DJ Steve Manovski also lent a helping hand on the single. The musician co-produced Sigala’s top 10 hit, Give Me Your Love, so it’s no surprise that we hear similar piano stabs on this track.

Despite the two working together on Give Me Dynamite, Ginny is still yet to bump into Manovski in person. “I actually never met the guy, which is a shame,” she laughs. “This is how it goes in the industry right now; most of the time, you don’t meet the people.

“In one day, I recorded the vocals and everything and my producer told me there was some great news – that Manovski agreed to work on the song.

“That was great news because I really like his job and I really like his work. When they told me, I was really enthusiastic about it, but unfortunately I haven’t met the guy yet. I’d love to meet him in the near future.”

Although that is yet to happen, Ginny believes the relationship between them was very good, calling Manovski a ‘very nice’ person.

“I’m really lucky,” she says. “I’ve been working with a very professional and great team – all of them are really nice people, so I can’t complain. I’m really happy about that.”

So what’s next after Give Me Dynamite? “It’s very early,” says Ginny. “The song has been out for a small amount of time and obviously now I really want to focus on the promotion. I’m doing lots of interviews and for this one, I’m doing a lot of radio interviews and performing to promote the song. Of course, in the meantime, I’m working on my future material – more songs, more material – because I’m working on a tour for 2017.”

“In life, I’m a really, extremely shy person. So I don’t really interact well with people – I’m private with everything, but when I’m on stage, I’m really free to be what I want to be. I’m really happy,” Ginny explains.

“I feel like I’m expressing myself completely and I feel free. I’m not afraid, I’m not concerned about being in control or anything, I just feel like I really want to be on the stage forever and never leave.”

Give Me Dynamite is out now and is available on iTunes and Spotify. The single can also be found on Soundcloud and YouTube.