After the announcement of a new Enter Shikari record at the beginning of August (2017). The Spark as it is now known has been on my radar for the past 2 months.
Now the time has come to give my review on this beauty of an album. Covering how the album itself made me feel as well as the art work too. Firstly I purchased the album twice I got a non signed copy from a big high street brand (*cough cough* HMV) and a signed copy from the bands store on Music Glue.
The album and booklet art was should I say aesthetic, clean and simplistic. Which is a good thing as it doesn’t give away too much of what you can expect from the album. Past Shikari records have been very over the top and dramatic in it’s art work.
The album itself however I can best describe it as an emergency hug and an emotional roller coaster all at once. In a recent interview for Kerrang magazine, lead vocalist Rou Reynolds revealed the album came about after some turbulent times he had experienced in late 2015 to early 2016. This included a battle with mental health problems like anxiety and insomnia, the end of a long term relationship and his last grandmother passing away. Now personally reading about this, I knew this album was going to be the pick me up I desperately needed. As I too went through a break up in the summer of 2016. Which had subsequently left me in quite a bad way. So I already knew I would relate so much to the subject matter “The Spark” covers. I felt as though Shikari were metaphorically picking me off the ground, giving me a pep talk and helped me find myself again. They say music is the best therapy and boy this album was just that.
This past academic year, as well as trying to move on from my first break up (just to point out after the break up I didn’t go to university)also I didn’t help myself getting a retail job that sucked the energy and motivation out of me. This then affected the things I loved doing in my past time which is radio production, making videos, making podcasts and of course writing on this blog. But now I feel more determined than ever to make my Djing, presenting and journalism dreams a reality. Plus I’ve got a new job that I actually enjoy.
My favourite tracks from the album are Live Outside, Airfield, Rabble Rouser, Undercover Agents and An Ode To Lost Jigsaw Pieces. But the tracks I related to the most were Airfield and An Ode To Lost Jigsaw Pieces. And not gonna lie cried like a baby listening to these here tracks. I also found myself reflecting on my life and thinking about all the things I’d gone through in the last few years. To be honest I surprise myself sometimes with how much I can withstand all sorts of negative situations. End of the day I don’t let a negative experience break me. I let it make me into a stronger person. But recently I’ve been bordering between make and break. But it seems to me I always get let down and hurt by people I truly love and care about and it drives me insane sometimes. So much so I get scared of being too happy and most of all I find it harder and harder to trust people. If this is a siege I’ll wait this out (such a beautiful lyric from An Ode To Lost Jigsaw Pieces).
To conclude I am very overwhelmed and impressed with this new Enter Shikari record. It definitely made me feel so much better and I feel liberated and strong enough to carry on down the path of life wherever it may lead me. Thank you Enter Shikari for producing an absolutely outstanding record and for lifting and strengthening my spirits.
This is probably the first deeply personal article I am writing for this blog. In this article I will cover my struggles with bullying, self and body image.
My friends and family would say I am one of those people that just doesn’t give a damn what people think. Which is true but in the past I struggled to accept myself physically and personally. This was thanks to good old bullying oh joy. Bullying for me started during the last 4 years of primary school (7-10 years old I was). The older kids use to tease me for being a chubby kid. Believe me I wasn’t thin as a rake, I was a squishy kid, which I look back and think being squishy is good cause I give the BEST bear hugs. But the kids took advantage of my body type and called me names like fatty, pig and ugly. To little me hearing those taunts crushed me and lowered my confidence and self esteem very low. Also while at primary school I was suffering from a bladder capacity problem. After going through GP after GP and not getting anywhere closer to finding out what was wrong with me. My parents demanded to have me transferred to a specialist unit in London. And after a few visits and monitoring through ultrasounds 10 years of wondering what the hell was wrong with me was laid to rest. The final and miracle GP confirmed with me that since birth my bladder wasn’t developing at the rate it should of been. In other words my bladder was weak and smaller than normal. The GP said that as soon as I hit puberty my bladder should develop normally and the problem will go away. When the kids at primary school found out about my problem they would tease me about that too. I was eventually discharged from hospital on 22nd March 2011. After 13 years the problem was well and truly behind me. But the damage was done and I still carry the metaphoric scars. The bullying and teasing left me very self-conscious so much so I hated looking at my bare body in the mirror.
Now personally I was one of those kids that wanted to make everyone happy and be loved by everyone (in other words fit in). One example of this is, some should I say ex friends I was hanging out with at the start of secondary school started to change and lost interest in me. I didn’t want them to leave me so I started to act like someone I wasn’t to please them and to fit in. In other words they had me wrapped around their fingers and treated me like a puppet on strings. Summer 2012 was a brilliant summer but through being someone I wasn’t I lost myself trying to please others. That year I holidayed in Jamaica with my family and I was glad that I was FAR away from my problems. This gave me time to re-evaluate my life and get back to well ME. The me that loved rock, heavy metal, alternative music, loved video games, anime, manga, sci-fi, reading and internet personalities. And the other thing didn’t care what people thought. At that point I was probably the loneliest and most vulnerable I’d been in my whole life. But in September 2012 I had started my penultimate year at secondary school (Year 10) and little did 14 year old me know an old face was to give me what I most needed to be loved and feel like I belong. This old face was my very close friend Kieran. He came up to me waiting at the gate for my “friends” and he could see I was upset. He then grabbed me by the hand and said “Come on Jen walk with me instead” so I did. And from that moment I let go of those toxic people. Cannot thank Kieran enough for what he did for me that day in September 2012. From then, through college until now I’ve met so many amazing people and they know who they are. I truly feel I can be myself and not be ashamed of it and I feel so liberated. I feel like a bird that has been set free to soar in the sky. Because of those people I am proud of the body I’m in. I’m 9 and a half stone of pure women and I’m proud, I’m a rocker and I’m proud, I’m a geek and I’m proud and I AM WHO I AM AND I’M PROUD TO BE ME. And as Limp Bizkit’s song ‘My way’ says This time I’m ‘a let it all come out.
This time I’m ‘a stand up and shout.
I’m ‘a do things my way.
It’s my way.
My way, or the highway.
For those of you that don’t know me personally one of my favourite bands is Enter Shikari. I started listening to their music in 2015 after my then boyfriend introduced me to them. Since then I have been a proud part of the Shikari family.
When I read online that Rou Reynolds (Lead vocalist of Enter Shikari) was writing essays on the entirety of Shikari’s back catalog and was going to turn it into a book, I immediately started saving up my money to order it. Come the beginning of March this year I received this bible through the post. The name of this bible “Dear Future Historians”. The title comes from one of the tracks off Shikari’s more recent album “The Mindsweep” and what a more fitting title for the book. I’d like to think this book is Shikari’s time capsule that future generations will pick up and think hopefully how far we have come as a society and as a species.
Reading this book gave me the feeling that I was at the University of Enter Shikari and the professor of today’s lecture was Dr Rou Reynolds himself. The way the book is written reminded me so much of Reynolds talk at “The Zeitgeist Movement”. If you want to look into this talk he gave further just type in on good old Google Rou Reynolds Zeitgeist movement. Back to the book and I feel two messages that I will take away after reading this book is to break down the walls and barriers that divide us and work together and life may be hard now but hold on, stay strong, dare to hope, dare to dream and things will get better. Shikari’s music speaks to me more than any cliche over glamorized pop song could. Their songs dig deep on a more philosophical and existential level. That’s what I love about the rock, heavy metal and alternative scene.
To conclude I would highly recommend this book to a fellow shikari shuffler or rock music enthusiast. I knew right when the postman delivered it I was in for a treat and finishing the book made me sad cause I just didn’t want it to end. And as I put in the title I truly feel this book is a love letter to the fans for all their support in taking Enter Shikari to the level they are at now. But it is a true testament to the power of Shikari as they are now on the global stage, playing arenas and headlining major festivals. I was fortunate enough to attend their Alexandra Palace gig last February and what a phenomenal gig it was. Enter Shikari will always hold a special place in my heart as the band that helped me transition from a teenager to a young adult woman. Thank you Enter Shikari you absolute legends. ❤
Well I’ve come to the end of the road (sorry for the boyz II men reference XD) of my college creative media course. It only seems like yesterday I was that nervous and shy 16 going on 17 year old girl when I started in September 2014.
Now I aspire to be a radio DJ, television presenter and journalist in the future. My love grew for especially the entertainment side of the media when I watched shows like Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow and Blue Peter god those shows were my jam growing up. When I would watch the presenters having fun and talking about stuff I was interested in I thought to myself I’d like to do something like that. Radio wise I loved listening to BBC radio 1 as well as my favourite station Kerrang because I’m a rock chick.
I remember having a meeting with the careers adviser at my former secondary school and expressing my interest in working in the media. We then both researched into a pathway I could go down into working in the sector. I then decided right let’s go to college and get a diploma in Creative media production. I then applied and I was interviewed in February 2014 and after hitting the books and studying hard I passed my GCSE’s with flying colours. I then enrolled on Wednesday 27th August 2014 now that day was a bittersweet day as I lost my nanna at the grand age of 90.
Starting college was a shakey start as I was grieving for my nanna and the friends I had made in the beginning rallied around me and offered me the support I needed to get through it and I can’t thank them enough. Most notable projects I remember being a part of in the first year of the course was the music video project in which my group got a distinction for it. One shooting day that is forever in my memory was when I went up to Epping where my friend Lizzey lived at the time. Myself Lizzey and Ryan went to Epping forest as we thought it would be the perfect setting for the video as it was supposedly haunted and according to Lizzey’s girlfriend at the time the railroad through the forest was rumoured to be abandoned. We then found out the hard way that it in fact wasn’t. To then get over the traumatic experience of nearly being hit by a freaking train we went down the local chippy for a deep fried mars bar. Also the documentary project as well where the theme of it was on animal cruelty my group went down to Hopefield animal sanctuary in Brentwood which was a very interesting and heartwarming day.
In February 2015 I had a first time experience and that was going on a trip abroad without my family. Munich in Germany was the destination for this educational visit and boy am I glad I went. I bonded with my peers and had such an incredible experience exploring the culture and attractions of such a powerful country. Sure I had a few moments of homesickness which was understandable but my word what a trip it was. Definitely planning to go back to Munich in the future. But I was happy when I got back home to see my family and to get into my own bed again.
Without going to Munich I wouldn’t of gotten close to a very special person in my life. This person is my boyfriend Jamie. Now we met in January 2015 and we got to know each
other a lot more in Munich and after a lot of will they won’t they we finally got together in March 2015. Jamie was half way through his last year of the same course I was doing when we met and he has recently finished his first year of university. From the moment I met him I knew I’d found someone special and someone who I could instantly connect with. I am a big believer in fate and destiny and I believe Jamie and I were born to be together. I mean we are both gamers, we both love the YouTube community and it’s content creators, we have literally the same taste in music, we are both massive geeks and we both eat the chocolate off of a magnum first before we eat the ice cream. I love him so very much and I can’t wait for many years with him <3.
Another thing that I was proud to be a part of was the college’s very own radio station called HCRonair. It came about when we all returned from our Christmas and New Year holiday at the start of 2015. Andy and Jeff our radio and animation lecturers announced the new venture on our return to college and encouraged us to propose and pitch show ideas and take part. Now I was a little tentative at first about doing it but from encouragement from my parents I went for it. I remember my first show it was on Wednesday 4th February 2015 and my show was called The Geek Show and I’d play video game, film and television soundtracks and talk about all things in geek culture. Fun fact I opened my first show on the Grand Theft Auto San Andreas theme tune because I am so cool. Also without doing the radio station I wouldn’t of met Jamie. He was doing a show on the radio station too called HCrocks it was a rock and alternative show. The Kerrang of HCRonair if you will. The countless times Jamie and I would rocks out together on each others shows are some of my fondest memories of the station. I would then go on to merge Jamie’s and my show together and the new show was called The Geek Rocks On. HCRonair helped build up my confidence, gain a fan-base of listeners and grow as a person. I feel that I have become more confident than my time at primary and secondary school combined. And that’s saying something.
Havering asks and TV week in the my last year was also another thing that helped my
confidence as a presenter flourish. Havering asks is our version of the BBC panel show called Question Time. I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing some inspiring and amazing people as backstage presenter throughout TV week and Havering asks. like HCRonair and Havering asks they are both a rarity and I’m lucky in the fact that not many colleges across the UK have their own radio station or can afford to do some big scale TV production like Havering asks. In the end of the day these things have given me the experience of what it’s like working in the media field.
Unlike school, in college you are actually learning things you will use in your everyday life I mean when am I ever gonna need algebra. I’ve been taught by lecturers who are professionals in their fields weather that is video/film, animation, radio, design, journalism, photograph etc. College has also helped me connect with people who I have a lot in common with and share the same interests. If any of you guys from college are reading this I love each and every one of you for being such amazing friends to me. In my 13 years of education college has definitely made me feel like I belong and made me feel that I am going somewhere in life. College has helped me find what was missing in my life my gorgeous boyfriend and I’m so lucky that I found him. I’ve never felt so alive in all my life and I feel like I’m on cloud 9.
As I step into the great unknown and carry on along the open highway that is my life I know that I have everything I need to survive in this world. And as the tenth doctor most famously said ALLONS Y it’s french for let’s go XD
Over the weekend (Saturday May 14th-Sunday May 15th 2016) I attended the ESL Pro league season 3 finals of Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO for short) with my boyfriend Jamie. And oh my god what a weekend we have had. The event was held at the indigo at London’s O2 arena and before the doors opened passers by were coming up to Jamie and I asking what we were in the line for.Someone thought we were lined up for a football game. Seriously you can’t play football in the indigo O2. Watching their reactions as Jamie explained the concept of Esports was very amusing.
Then 1 o’clock and we were in and we immediately grabbed the best seats in the house. The first semi final match up was between NIP (Ninjas in pyjamas) and Luminosity. And after an intense best of three the victory of the first semi final went to Luminosity. Then after a break it was time for the second semi final between G2 sports and Fnatic. This match was the ultimate underdog wins best of three as G2 took the victory from Fnatic. Then on Sunday the doors opened at two instead and to get the crowd warmed up and ready for a very intense grand final the shoutcasters did a 3v3 best of three “friendly” match. This was very entertaining to say the least. Then the moment we had all been waiting for who would be crowned ESL Pro-league season 3 champions? Would it be the surprise that is G2 sports or would it be the world champions Luminosity. The match was a best of five. After G2 and Luminosity won two match points each it was all down to inferno to decide who would win the title. The match went to overtime as G2 and Luminosity were neck and neck. But the title went to Luminosity and my word what an intense and gripping grand final. G2 sports put up a strong fight against Luminosity but that was not enough for them to clench the title.
Myself and Jamie had an absolute blast at the finals and I would highly recommend that if you are an Esports fan like myself and Jamie go and see it live whenever you can get the chance. Others would argue why not just stay at home and watch the games on Twitch instead? You see when you watch the stream on Twitch you miss the sense of community, sure you have the chat bar at the side of the page so you can interact with others. But when you are in a live crowd you feel that community and you feel that you belong. Now being in a crowd that are passionate about the same thing as you, you feel less of an outsider. That’s exactly how Jamie and I felt. We left the O2 on Sunday feeling so awesome but our voices were not so okay.
Dunster beach in sunny Somerset is a favourite holiday destination for me and my family. My parents discovered Dunster beach when my mother was pregnant with yours truly (18 years ago) after a washout in their Butlins hotel room. Now Dunster beach is our home away from home.
Ever since this discovery each year coming down to Dunster is a whole different adventure and experience. Here is how I think this years holiday went.
First of all, the chalet we stayed in was the same chalet we had stayed in the previous year called “Ducks Crossing”. The chalet was cosy but some days the weather was not kind to us so we had the warmth of a tiny heater. Sleeping in the chalet was amazing (as previous chalets we had stayed in required me to sleep on a very uncomfortable airbed in the kitchen) so I woke up feeling refreshed in the morning. But overall the chalet was well equipped and arranged for us to live in for the fortnight we were staying there.
Next, the facilities in the resort were average as our chalet didn’t have a shower in it we had to use the shower block close to our corresponding chalet. Some days I would come to the shower block and the previous user left the shower clean how I would expect to find it but other times I would come in and there were traces of dirt, sand and even hair in the shower as well. This left me disgusted as it clearly states on a notice in the shower itself ” Leave this shower in the condition you would expect to find it by washing away any dirt, sand and hair for the next user thank you”. Yes thank you to the previous user who left the shower in such a state. Also another thing that had left me disappointed was the on site shop or should I say just café. The lack of goods and confectionary made my inner child cry as on previous visits (preferably when I was little) mum would give us each one pound to fulfil our sugar rushed dreams. Now those dreams taste so bittersweet.
But there are some good things that came out of the whole experience as there was plenty to do in the resort and touristy places outside the beach. Within the beach you could take a relaxing walk through the nature trail and feel one with nature perfect for any wildlife enthusiasts. Also the beach itself stretches for miles so plenty of space to let off some steam and relax. You could visit Dunster village a proper medieval village with a fantastic range of one of a kind shops and cosy eateries. There at the village you can go and explore Dunster castle the star attraction of Dunster village. On the topic of history for all steam train fanatics you can take a trip through the west Somerset railway and go back in time. Lastly the seaside town of Minehead has all the perks that a seaside town can offer fantastic eateries, arcades, gift shops and fantastic scenery. So loads to do so you will certainly not be bored out of your brain.
So to close I had a wonderful 2 weeks at Dunster beach I had all the comforts of home so I wasn’t too home sick. The sights, sounds and tastes of this holiday thrilled my senses and I created many happy memories and stories to tell relatives. friends and my boyfriend Jamie all about. So thank you Dunster for an incredible two weeks and see you next year.