Around now it seems apt to reflect on the year. It’s nice that we arbitrarily mark things like months and years; the torrent of life is relentless and it’s definitely conductive to stop and reflect, lest we forget why we’re even doing this whole thing.
So what of 2017? I spent it being relentlessly optimistic. Great! Yep, being optimistic is great. Sometimes we need it; without a little blind faith, life would be an utter drag. Trusting in optimism allows us to stand up straight long enough that we make the gully.
But hopeless optimism? Glare in the way of truth. If you don’t turn off the shower you don’t need to leave. There has to be a point at which you stand back and it’s then that you most likely realise that your whole existence is a bit wobbly and maybe it’s not working out.
2017 was difficult. In years to come I’ll look back on this period as “that time I was shit poor.” Being without food or the ability to travel is not conductive to championing what you want to do. Neither is working a minimum wage shop job. It’s a vicious circle and I am forever indebted to the generosity of my brilliant friends without whom I would be far hungrier, far colder and, on average, far more sober. I did become very good at bunking trains, though. And cooking my signature dish of 20p spaghetti with butter.
That said, the year has seen lots of highs. It saw my band go public with our first gigs and releases; we end the year in far better a position than I ever could have hoped. We have a manager. We have a booking agent. The music we released this year apes anything I’ve done before. My playing even got featured on the telly.
I qualified – kind of – as an A-level teacher, which was pretty neat. I got a kick out of teaching and it was totally rewarding to feed into the creativity of my students. It had hilarious moments, too, which admittedly hinted at how unsuited I was to the role: days spent asleep as I struggled with comedowns; lesson plans based entirely on Pink Floyd songs; borrowing money from students to get home; cordoning off dark spaces for kids who had taken too many mushrooms; turning classrooms upside down to make space for recording projects.
Another major positive this year was starting as an intern at Killing Moon. It‘s been totally brilliant. I’m busier than ever but it feels – at last – like something conductive; certainly the counter to working in a shop, which is a bit like pummelling your hopes and dreams against an industrial meat grinder. I’m indebted to the label team (which comprises of one person, so thanks Liv!) for taking me under their wing and letting me do… this? Whatever this is. I think it’s meant to be music journalism, though by this point I’m not really sure.
So, an interesting year. Conclusively a successful one? The positives weigh against an uncertain 2018. As I cling to the coattails of city life, hopeless optimism won’t cut it for much longer and it’s evident that things need to change. Quite how, though, is an abstract concept. This is a central theme to the record on which my track of the day appears: The Sound of Security by Moderate Rebels.
Many of the tracks – When The Cost Has No Value, Rename / Rebrand, and 2016 single God Sent Us – are brazenly pessimistic, and encapsulate what the project is all about: sparse psych-punk for the end-days of late-stage capitalism. The battery in your phone is derived from materials mined by eight-year-olds; there will be more plastic than fish in the sea in a matter of years; abusers are systematically afforded safety in every industry; people are sleeping on snow-sludge London pavements. God Sent Us is wicked in how relentless it is. When The Cost is a resigned spiral.
Sitting towards the end of the album, I’m Feeling the Deep State is warmer. It’s a light pocket of optimism finally allowed to rise to the surface. It’s standing buffeted by winds, numb to it all and – in that moment – kind of alright. If that’s all one can be, well… enjoy it while you can.