Thursday, 6 August 2015

What Do Music Journalists Listen To?


As a music journalist, I do seem to get asked quite often exactly what I listen to. I always struggle with that question, as the answer changes so often. I usually answer with something like “Stuff” or “Anything that appeals.” I would wager that music journalists who say they only listen to the most underground stuff and nothing else are absolute liars. If we only ever listened to one type of music, we wouldn't be able to be objective about any of it when we write about it.

Music isn't one thing. Genres are good things to have when trying to describe what we listen to or what category a band is when reviewing their work, but beyond that, music should just be music. As a guitarist for the past 25 years, I am primarily drawn to guitar based music, and in that arena my particular poison is hard rock and old-school heavy metal. Those are my roots. The thing to remember is that roots grow, and once they have grown tall they will bear fruit.

Crap analogies aside, you should always respect your musical roots, but never be afraid to build on those foundations and develop your tastes. Writing for Powerplay Rock and Metal Magazine, I'm known primarily as a rocker and metalhead, and that's fine. That's my meat and potatoes. That's the lifeblood for me. However, that's not the be all and end all of my music library. Not by a long way. I believe you can't appreciate music properly unless your aural diet is well-balanced.

The blues were a big part of my musical youth, and my love for the blues continues to this day. Then there's classical music and film scores. Rockabilly and 50s pop music. Industrial and old-school EBM. Trippy electronica. Contemporary pop music. Nerdcore. A lot of 80s chart stuff. A few country songs. Some hip-hop. A lot of soundtracks. The list goes on.

At the other end of it there's the extreme metal, the black and death and thrash and grindcore. That's offset by my deep and abiding love for AOR and symphonic metal. Then there are the thousands of individual songs I own from different artists which I bought just because I liked those songs even if I wasn't that keen on exploring those artists further.

As I write about music, I get sent a lot of it from bands and record companies and PR companies, but
I still buy music. I prefer physical copies, but I'm not averse to purchasing downloads. I just like to have something I can look at, read the liner notes to while listening. That's not to say physical media is a better thing. I just grew up with physical media, so that's what brings me reassurance alongside the tunes. Music isn't a throwaway thing. Music is the soundtrack to lives, and in many of those lives it becomes an integral part of every day.

Music should be delved into, lest the good stuff be lost amidst the massive amount of other material out there. The influences of your influences should be given a chance. After all, the musicians you loved adored them for a reason. On another track, it's very easy to dismiss things as being crap, but at least listen to them before making that decision. Give things a chance.

Music for every mood is an essential in my life, as well. Music has the capacity to sooth and inspire as well as energise. Building a music library which offers me something for every quirk of my fluctuating emotional state has been a beautiful experience throughout my life, and long may it be thus. Music has been there for me in my darkest times as well as my very best times.

It has seen me through nights I never thought would end, heartache, elation, worry and joy. For almost eight years now, music has been a part of my professional life and continues to do everything that it always did. Music has always been there for me, and I couldn't cope without it. What do music journalists listen to?

Music. We listen to music.

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