Introducing ‘The Impaired Judgement Podcast’

There’s hosting a radio show, then there’s creating a podcast. The former, I have done now, on-and-off, for around two years. When it comes to the latter, despite my presenting experience, was all very new to me – that is, until today.


At 5pm, the very first episode of Impaired Judgement – my podcast which sees me and other disabled people cast a critical eye over the latest disability news – went live on YouTube (and soon, it will be available on iTunes). Despite being in front of a microphone many times before, I still struggled to find the right place to start – although I did have a detailed plan of things to discuss.

Thankfully, I had my good friend Connor to discuss things with, as he was my first guest on the podcast. Reaching the 30-40 minute target was easy. However, coming up with the name was particularly tricky (an earlier idea was Sign of the Times, before I realised that Harry Styles may have a few words). The great thing was that this new name contained a similar level of wordplay – ‘impaired judgement’ being a common phrase, but it also nicely sums up a podcast which sees disabled people discuss the latest news.

Looking ahead, the aim is to build up my ability to improvise when thinking (I often rely on scripts when on radio), and hopefully have at least one guest on per episode. How frequent the podcasts will be is something I still need to figure out, but I hope to keep a regular flow going for as long as possible.

Nevertheless, if you’re interested in hearing myself and Connor discuss noisy restaurants, the latest MMR vaccine statistics and schizophrenia, then you can give the first episode of the podcast a listen on YouTube.

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Kygo develops his tropical house sound with ‘Stargazing’ EP

If one was to look a bit too deeply into the name of Kygo’s new EP, then you may think that Stargazing is a nod to the Norwegian DJ’s inspirations. After all, with U2 – one of his favourite bands – featured on You’re the Best Thing About Me, and country-style guitars appearing on This Town (which may be seen as an homage to Avicii), what’s not to say that the producer’s latest release sees him gaze at his ‘stars’ with admiration?

Though, first and foremost, the name of the EP comes from the title of the opening track, which sees Kygo (real name Kyrre Gørvell-Dahll) collaborate with American singer, Justin Jesso. Once again, whether it’s the delicate chords in the verses which intertwine with the Jesso’s rhythm, or the bouncy stabs underneath the choppy vocals in the chorus, Kyrre’s talents with the piano shine through once again. Add this to Jesso’s voice – which has the ability to be both soft and soulful (with a slight rasp to it) – and imaginative vocals, then you have a successful first track which certainly sets the tone and lives up to its name.

What follows next is two tracks we’ve heard before: It Ain’t Me (feat. Selena Gomez) and First Time (feat. Ellie Goulding), so there’s a possibility that a few people will be annoyed at the lack of new material on the EP, but at last, we have the release which includes these previous singles. Kyrre’s collaboration with Gomez sees a brief guitar melody before quickly descending into the traditional piano tune with slight vocal distortion. It’s fitting that it follows on from Stargazing, as there’s certainly a few similarities.

Compare this to First Time and you have a more minimalistic sound from Kyrre. Yet again, the producer paves the way for the vocalist (in this case, Goulding) to take centre stage in the verses, before slowly progressing into the drop. Yet, the build-up this time around feels calmer and more stripped back. Rather than a melody playing before the main tune, Kyrre relies on Ellie’s vocals in the pre-chorus before introducing the interlude. It’s a movement which makes an interesting change from other tracks, highlighting a lighter tone from the DJ.

However, by far the most intriguing track of the five is This Town. The second new song on the EP, Kygo ditches the heavy, plucky synth and piano for a more chill, country vibe. It was something the artist flirted with a little in his track with Kodaline, Raging, but now it has a much stronger influence. The tempo is slow and in a sense, it feels more like a Sasha Sloan track than a song by Kygo, as yet again, Kyrre places heavy emphasis on the featured vocalist.

It’s a track which moves away from the Cloud Nine era whilst also building upon it, but it’s not the only song on the EP to do so, as the record comes to a close with a collaboration with U2 for a remix of their track, You’re the Best Thing About Me.

Whilst Kygo has always preferred piano or acoustic guitar in his tracks, he can now have a bit of fun with a grittier guitar sound that Bono and co. like to use in their music. In that regard, Kyrre does a great job of preserving the best parts of the original (including the smooth guitar and, for the most part, Bono’s unique sound) whilst adding a bit of a spring to the tempo and some slight distortion in his melody.

As an EP which shows off Kygo’s remixing capabilities and his new direction alongside his traditional sound, it may not be just the stars which the Norwegian is looking at, as it’s a release which shows that the DJ is very much looking onwards and upwards.

Thoughts on Freshers Week 2017

A calendar is pinned up on my noticeboard and once again, a strict routine returns to my life. Dissertation deadlines and exam dates have been added, and I’m back in the mindset which sees me look ahead and soldier on. Although, that hasn’t stopped me from taking a step back this week, as Freshers Week at the University of Lincoln got underway.

In full, the week saw me see Radio 1’s Scott Mills and Chris Stark, Lethal Bizzle – which was an interesting experience for someone who doesn’t like that music at all – and Pendulum (although two of the main three DJs, such as Rob Swire, weren’t present). There were also two of the main club nights in Lincoln – QUACK! and Superbull – as well as a quiz, which we took the cash gamble and lost. Damn.

Other than that, with lessons starting next week, the past seven days have seen me be stuck in some sort of limbo. Aside from working on my radio show yesterday and going to my course’s Welcome Talk for this year, having a week to wait for things to pick up again did make me feel somewhat lazy. I was able to get other things on my to-do list done, but not as much as I would have liked. Annoyingly, I know that I’ll have the motivation to get other things outside of my coursework done – in my spare time, of course – once my course starts again properly tomorrow.

Tonight will hopefully see me take part in my last Freshers Week activity (a ‘rock and roll bingo’) before my Court Reporting and Political Journalism sessions.

The fun starts tomorrow…

Behind the Scenes: The Russell Howard Hour

Even when we didn’t have to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), an exciting opportunity came my way at the start of this month and only now do I feel comfortable enough to talk about it without fearing a lawsuit or a scary PR email. The opportunity in question was to go and see a recording of a new TV show on Sky 1, The Russell Howard Hour.

When I say ‘we’, I also brought my friend along to see what was essentially the pilot of the series (the first episode aired last night). After getting lost and going for a walk, we finally stumbled across the venue and it was only then that I realised that the Television Centre meant the Television Centre that was used by the BBC before moving to the New Broadcasting House. That was pretty cool.

After queuing for quite a while we were ushered in, given a free bottle of Fosters (cheers – I don’t drink but I appreciated the gesture) and took our seat in the audience. As we looked at the open set, with plenty of space for Russell to run around, it was clear that the show was going to have a Good News vibe – however big or small. In fact, those who saw Thursday night’s show will probably agree with the view I had when filming finished: it’s essentially Good News on Sky 1.

However, I’m not complaining. I missed the show when it took its hiatus from the BBC, and despite its many similarities, there are some new segments which prevent it from being a full-on carbon copy of the Beeb’s format (such as the Playground Politics section, for example).

Anyway, I digress: the behind the scenes insight was interesting. If you’ve been to Universal Orlando and have seen the Indiana Jones stunt show, then imagine that but without the exaggerated acting, of course.

James Gill did a great job warming the audience up ahead of each part – it’s amazing how excited you can make a crowd of people with nothing more than a simple clapping exercise and a packet of Haribo.

Other noteable parts of the pilot to mention were the stand-up section (delivered by a hilarious junior doctor and comedian called Kwame Asante) and an interesting interview with Olympian Amy Williams. Howard’s humour in between takes also showed that he is a decent bloke off camera/stage too.

Much like how seeing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child made me appreciate all the important work that goes on off-stage, going to a recording of a TV show has led to me appreciating these people a lot more. No more ignoring the credits.

If you fancy being in the audience for a recording of The Russell Howard Hour, free tickets are available here.

Musical Discovery: ‘Million Bucks’ by Smallpools

It’s always interesting listening to the music that artists themselves listen to, as they can often lead to some fascinating new finds. Look no further than Emma Blackery’s recent livestream, which saw viewers listen to a snippet of Million Bucks by Smallpools.

It’s a quintessential indie bop, released in the height of this year’s summer season and complete with seaside guitars and anthemic vocals singing about Los Angeles. Pack all this into a 4 minute song and you have a track on the same level as Chocolate by The 1975 and T-Shirt Weather by Circa Waves. In a sense, to group Million Bucks into such a genre does give the impression that it’s yet another upbeat indie song which lacks that particular unique edge, but that’s where the catchy chorus comes in, selling the track and sets it apart from all the others.

The lyrics and instrumentals have a strong part to play in its catchiness, but without a doubt, the pacing of the chorus keeps things flowing, fluttering and interesting to listen to. Take lines such as I’ve got all my, money on you/And though my, dollars are few, where a slight pause in the middle leaves enough room for punchy guitar chords and you have a solid chorus from the three-piece band. Then, when followed by an expressive instrumental interlude, the feel-good vibes are strong as the song comes to a close.

Musical Discovery: ‘Message’ by Audien

As the name suggests, Some Ideas – the latest EP from the American DJ Audien – contains three songs all completely different from each other. From chill house to hazy synths, it’s a release which sees the musician flex his producing muscles. Yet, by far the most traditional-sounding song of the lot is the EP’s opener, Message.

After all, there’s the repeated lyrics – message from my heart/too loud to stay apart, taken from the 2010 dance track by Yuri Kane, Right Back – alongside Audien’s signature beat drops (be it a bass drum or sudden pause in the song) and delicate piano. It follows the usual structure, too: minimalistic piano chords guide the track all the way up to the main lead, which is complete with the occasional off-beat note and a satisfying rising and falling melody. Yet again, US artist sure knows how to create a euphoric dance hit.

Whilst part of this song is down to sampling and the repeated lyrics may come across as simplistic, it must be remembered that this is quite an experimental assortment of songs. Message, Resolve and Rampart see Audien try out new sounds, with each track different from the other. Simply put, it’s a pick-and-mix EP, and there’s a high chance you’ll like at least one of the three.

Exciting Existentialism

Life is a pretty random thing. So much so, that we have meta-narratives such as science and religion to help us understand it all. There’s a variety of ‘paths’ we can follow in life, and in the world of UK education, it can certainly feel a little streamlined – that is, until you enter your third and final year at university.

I will miss this view come August 2018, when I graduate.

Up until that moment, everything is pretty straight-forward for most people: primary and secondary school (or alternative versions of this system), Sixth Form and then university. Of course, there are people who do apprenticeships or college, but for the most part, this is the usual route which most people take. For a lot of people, going to another county and getting that all-important degree is their end goal, so what next after that?

During the lengthy summer break, the questions got more frequent: what do you plan to do next after university? Will you stay and do a Masters? Granted, there are options, but at this moment, everything feels much more unrestrained. To refer back to the aforementioned ‘end goal’, I’ve got there and am soon to complete it, so what next?

Such thoughts unearth a bubbling existential crisis inside me. As someone that’s always liked structure and whose iPhone calendar is the main way they organise their life, having to accept the fact that come May 2018, the slate is blank is a little terrifying. It was a dread I felt last month when people asked me if I was going to the next Summer in the City convention next year. Taking place around the time of my graduation, I simply had to say that I had no idea, and not knowing my availability is as frustrating as it is alarming.

So, as I’ve now settled in to my university flat, I approach my third and final year of university with excited existentialism. This academic year sees me work hard on a 10K word dissertation (the subject of which I am genuinely interested in), produce extensive amounts of radio work, and work as the editor of the university’s student newspaper, The Linc. I’m looking forward to it, whilst knowing that time will indeed fly by.

Let’s get started…