The music that shaped my life

Diary, Mental Health, Music

Time To Change Leeds will be hosting a monthly radio show soon, one of the segments will be a song nominated by a listener or guest that means something to them. I couldn’t relate to just one song. So with these 7 choices I outline why each song means so much to me, at various stages of my life. I can’t pick a favourite, I already have an overflowing favourites playlist, with over 100 songs and it’s growing larger all the time, but what I can pick is a playlist that resonates with my life now, then and always.

Sebadoh – Brand New Love (1991)

Lou Barlow – Legendary (2005)

I was devoted to Lou Barlow as any teenager could be to their musical heroes. Barlow writes with heartbreaking poetry to his lyrics. Something I could relate to as I spent my time alone, writing volumes of poetry trying to make sense of my feelings. I was a dark teenager, battling with a depression I hadn’t come to realise existed. I never felt as unloved as I did in my late teens. Listening to Sebadoh gave me a grounding, I felt like I had a friend in them.

Massive Attack – Blue Lines (1991)

Massive Attack shaped the fifteen year old me’s taste in music, from listening to The Smiths, The Cure, New Order, Cocteau Twins after stealing tapes from my older brother, and the infant battle of boy band nonsense (although out of those I did obsess with, A-Ha are still pretty great), this album was truly my own. I can still listen to it 20 years later and it sounds just as timeless as when I discovered it. I still had adolescent fads, nonchalant grunge, riot grrrl anger, shoegazing soul-searching, but my tastes have remained eclectic to this day. With music we tend to find our tribes, feeling the need to fit in, so in youth finding the sound that suits you is a rite of passage. I struggled with this part, trying to be liked through my choice in music, I couldn’t decided what I liked best or what was coolest.

Many years later, I realised it really didn’t matter that I didn’t have a genre I liked most. Being open to music, I have discovered an amazing array of sounds, enticing moods and lyrics that have poignant takes. Voices that sing to me.

The Chemical Brothers – Where Do I Begin (1997)

I’d left uni, my dreams of being a photographer shattered by disillusion on the degree course I had been attending. I’d begun working full time at a busy city bar, the year previous, and had now made new friends who also wanted to go out, dance and get royally messy (optional)! I remember these as good times, I was young, I loved dancing, messy or not, I was in love with the Chemical Brothers sound and the early mornings during the summer months listening to this track as the sun was rising and feeling joyous simply because I was alive and loving life! No ulterior motives, no agendas, living free as a young person could. We didn’t worry about money, because we lived a simple existence, which consisted of being with good friends and spending time at great parties, being young couldn’t get much better than this! I’ve grown with the ChemBros and they mean as much to me as they did then, only with very different ways to live the life!

Los Campesinos! – You! Me! Dancing! (2007)

In my thirties I’d hit a huge wall, I felt completely lost and unhappy, I was trapped in a job I disliked and friends were temporary in my life. But as with any journey in life, there will always be a moment when things change. I was lucky enough to meet and befriend people who meant something more than a fleeting drink at the bar. This song reminds me of them, it reminds me it was them who encouraged me to go back to college, to change my life, that I could do it and it’s a happy song about not caring about how you look dancing or otherwise and just about having a good time, for yourself.

Sigur Rós – Starálfur (1999)

I sadly didn’t hear Sigur Rós until the internet had really taken off and my musical awareness went beyond radio shows and pot luck in record shops (I have done this many a time, I gladly discovered Pavement this way). Starálfur is a beautiful song, Sigur Rós are definitely the soundtrack to Iceland, I’m still in love with the place, it’s a magical world. One of the most amazing gigs I have attended was to see Jónsi, the vocalists solo project. It was breathtaking. This track not only features on their beautiful movie Heima, but also soundtracks the discovery of the jaguar shark in The Life Aquatic, and I love Bill Murray and Wes Anderson, 3 wins there! But in all seriousness, my time spent in Iceland has never left my imagination and Sigur Rós are the perfect soundtrack for that imagination.

Crystal Castles – Not In Love (2010)

I was in love with the Crystal Castles, I was going to see them play live on 23rd October 2010.

‘Cause it’s cold outside, when you coming home?

‘Cause it’s hot inside, isn’t that enough?

The lyrics may be about the end of a relationship, but it’s the end of a different relationship that hits me here. I lost my father on 22nd October 2010. I still saw the gig, I was an emotional void at the time. But when I hear those lyrics now, it brings a tear to my eye. It reminds me of my father, and as hard as that is, I love to be reminded about him, he will always be in my heart.

Arcade Fire – Ready To Start (2010)

Where was the turning point? I’d found my way again, but dreadful things kept happening to stop me in my tracks, to knock me down and keep me from living my life on my terms. I thought, “Screw you to life,” but instead of finding a negative way out, I dug my heels in hard. I’ve been on this road to recovery ever since, now I’m ready to start. This is a hopeful song, my memories of seeing them live were of a hopeful time, in the sun, visiting friends in foreign places, a fantastic atmosphere, irrespective of the theme of the song itself, I always feel uplifted and hopeful when I hear it, it gives me push.


Arts Events, Events, Exhibition, Music


The Exhibition is to be held at the Hedley Verity on Woodhouse Lane, Leeds. Opening day event is on May 1st, and then running for the whole month. Please see here for further details about submission of art work, running stalls, performing etc. If you are a band interested in performing on the night, please send a link to your website, Bandcamp, Soundcloud etc featuring your music to me. We are looking for feel good acts, to mirror the theme of Art is Good for Your Mental Health. If you aren’t chosen to perform on this night, please be aware Hedley Verity will be holding a monthly Open Mic’ you can apply to.

Open Mic’ night

Events, Music

Our host venue for the exhibition this May, the Hedley Verity, are gearing up for an Open Mic’ night starting on April 17th, then every 3rd Wednesday after that, well, unless demand is bigger than they thought!

Music is a great way to unwind, entertain and meet new friends. They’d love for you to get involved. Contact Emily directly at the Hedley, details can be found here.

The Time To Change exhibition will also be hosting an Open Mic’ night for the opening event, on 1st May. We are looking for bands, soloists, duos, dancers, to get involved and celebrate Leeds being a Time To Change city, and the promotion of art being good for your mental health.

If you are interested then please contact either Mindy or Emily.