When I was a teenager, I was filled with a lot of anguish and bitterness, and this reflected in my musical preference. I listened to a lot of The Smiths (and still do), Alterbridge and Steel Panther, and this gave me some kind of relief because they were bands with a message, however satirical those messages may have been. I liked the loud, heavy, rock drums and the skilled bass, the men in these bands were badass and so was I for listening to their music. But as I’ve got older, myself and my musical taste has matured, softened somewhat, but maintained an element of ferocity and standing for something, but in a far calmer way.
My dad has always been my musical guru. When I was fourteen he took me to see The Flamin Lips because he thought I should experience real and cinematic live music. That concert at Portsmouth Guildhall ascertained my passion my live for music, for my dad’s obscure and varied music taste. When I was eighteen, he took me to see Johnny Marr at the Electric Palace in Bridport, and it remains one of the greatest moments of my life as I discovered one of my favourite musicians and a new love for concerts. He also took me to see Morrissey at Hammersmith Apollo, because he thought everyone should see Morrissey perform at least once in their life.
The two musical talents I mostly have to thank my dad for, however, is The Staves and Laura Marling. Two years ago I had barely heard of Laura Marling and knew only her greatest hits such as ‘Rambling Man’ and ‘Failure’, and I didn’t even know The Staves existed. Yet now, I consider these four women my favourite musicians, and they have come to influence not only my writing, but also my life mentality.
I saw The Staves at The Old Firestation at an intimate gig in November 2015. I can’t imagine they will ever play such a small venue again considering their sudden and mainstream success across the pond and having sold out at Guy Garvey’s meltdown festival this year, as well as continuing their huge North American tour. It was the most awe-inspiring gig I have ever been to, and I was mesmerised by the harmonies and bond of the Staveley-Taylor sisters. Though their perceived genre is folk-rock, their musical niche is far more ambiguous than one genre. They are soul, country, blues and so much more than a folk-band with unbeatably incredible harmonies. Their music is raw and earthly and makes me want to sit in a cabin alone in the winter and eschew men because their music advocates femininity and empowerment. Their lyrics are so haunting and beautiful and brave, and though they may appear as soft and lovely, they are also cutting and angry but in the most ferocious way. ‘Teethe White’ and ‘Make it Holy’ are two of my favourite songs, one of which makes me want to sing just from the opening guitar rift, and the other makes me want to lie down and contemplate everything I have ever loved.
Laura Marling, to me, is one of those enigmatic artists that you hope never becomes too famous because you want to keep her for yourself. When I saw her live at Meltdown Festival this year, I was astounded by the clarity and range to her voice, and the soulful undertones that I’d never heard in her music before. I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable she was performing to a huge crowd at The Southbank Centre, especially as there was nowhere for her voice to hide in a building designed specifically for acoustic and vocal sound to be enhanced. Her music inspires a wanderlust in me, and a want to experience things on my own and be this mysterious figure in society. Her lyrics are obscure and chaotic, but soothing and somehow make sense to my life.
The Staves and Laura Marling enthuse my creativity and sanction my femininity. Their music is there when I’m travelling, writing, running and everything in between. It makes me sassy and strong, but also gentle and forgiving.