This article was illustrated by my incredibly talented lil bro, Charlie. If you like his stuff you can jump on over to his Instagram, here, to see more.
Vic and I were complaining to each other a couple of weeks ago that although we’ve been in Berlin for a quarter of a year now, we’ve only gone to a few night clubs. I’ve been to Chalet, Monarch, Sisyphos twice, Kater Blau four times, and yet there are dozens of clubs I’ve never gone anywhere near. So, when Michelle text me last week saying she was off to the near-mythical Heideglühen for a day party on Saturday, I was well ready for mayhem. Mayhem I tell you! Continue reading →
“There was this story I used to like when I was a kid in Cali. There’s a boy, and his best friend is a tree.”
“Shut up. And every time the boy needs something, the tree gives him it. Like when the boy needs to eat, the tree gives him fruit. Then when he needs to build a house, the tree gives him branches for wood.”
“And then by the of the book, the boy is an old man, and the tree has been all used up by the boy, so all that’s left is a stump. And the boy asks the tree for somewhere to sit, and the tree says ‘you can sit on me’. And he does.”
“Huh. Unsure how I feel about that one.”
“Right? When I was a kid I loved that story. I thought ‘aw, what a beautiful kind tree’. I thought the story was all about giving everything you can to help others. Then I got older and I realised the kid’s an asshole.”
“I don’t really understand what the story is meant to represent. Like maybe the tree is a parent and the kid is their child. Or maybe the tree is a good friend and the kid is a bad friend. Or maybe they’re both bad friends, in their own way.”
“I think the core of it is that real friends should help each other grow.”
Look at these kids here. I was 13 years old. I first got their album on a pirate CD with ‘Arctic Monkeys pre album’ scrawled on it in black marker, and half the songs on it were recorded live in noisy bars. I always get caught up and sad watching videos of bands and shows and old sunny concerts, and I suppose this is what getting older feels like, and I suppose it’ll only accelerate. Continue reading →
I’ve just had a look at the Spotify playlist ‘Your Top Songs 2017’, which is a playlist unique to each listener, listing their 100 most listened to songs. It’s funny looking at it all now; you can really see where you’ve been. I love all of these songs so much. They capture everything. It’s been a brilliant, devastating, unforgettable year; simultaneously the worst and best of my life. So much heartbreak, so much joy, so much chaos and creativity and love.
I want to run through a few choice tracks and explain why they are so important. Continue reading →
Last night I staggered home pissed as a newt with tears of joy in my eyes. I was alone, getting rained on nicely, swaying around and laughing to myself. I was beaming in the street, looking up at every building and traffic light and how the multi-coloured flashing gizmos outside the spätis reflect off the surface of the road. I climbed the stairs to my flat and cackled, stealing and rearranging the doormats of all the flats on the floor below me; breathless with drunk giggles at such mild, stupid tomfoolery. My headphones were in, as they always are, and this song was playing, over and over.
You! Me! Dancing!
My friend Vic introduced me to the band/grammatical nightmare that is Los Campesinos! last year. I wasn’t so keen at first; wasn’t feeling Gareth David’s vocals – didn’t measure up to the guttural rasps of Joe Strummer, one of my heroes. But it’s grown on me. And grown, and grown.
That introduction! 90 seconds of gentle, floating chords, somehow building unchecked into a thunderous crescendo, an apocalyptic cacophony, it’s all too much, and then – and then – from nowhere – bright lights, clarity, melody! Drums and guitars and a sparkling xylophone tying it all together, jangling and smashing into one another fast and loose, so frenetic and desperate they could all burst into flame from their own energy and smash off the rails at any time into rabid white noise. That’s life, man. Right there. That’s everything.
And so last night I stumbled down the street to my flat overwhelmed with joy, because the right song always makes my heart explode. It doesn’t matter how fucked everything is, how lonely I feel, how stupid and hopeless in a foreign city with a shattered broken heart; the right song plays, and nothing – nothing – can get anywhere near me. It’s completely overwhelming and contagious, it’s whooshing over the towering brink on a rollercoaster – it’s beyond anything you can control, all you can do is hold on tight. I don’t know if other people feel this way or if it’s just me, but it doesn’t matter. Maybe I’m alone and weird, but it’s me, and I wouldn’t change it for everything because there’s not much I like about myself but fuck man – I cry from happiness at least a couple of times a week, and I cry from sadness about the same, and it’s exhausting but that’s just me and I love it; always has been, always will be, and I like feeling everything this much. So alive it burns inside. It’s just me. It’s Dan.
The song is steeped in 2008 mythology, crop tops and indie bands and singalongs in night clubs – the sort of antics that I miss so sorely in Berlin; fuck minimal techno and black clothes, all you lame-ass hipsters drowning in your nihilism and your cool apathy and your fear of ever having an original thought or a genuine feeling – Christ, I need the ecstasy of scream-singing into your best friend’s face, everyone covered in sweat and booze, the girls’ makeup all fucked and hair a mess and everyone skinny and skint and wearing shit clothes because nobody has a clue how to dress.
And it’s this feeling that I just can’t let go of – the energy of it all, the mess, the clatter of being a daft little shit with an ego the size of a planet and somehow simultaneously an explosion of insecurities and mistakes. Being 24 – it just feels right. It feels good, it feels wonderful to not have to give a fuck, to have something to be angry about, a rage that you can’t put into words but just a sense of fight, all at once. And this song is as wild and stupid and fucking hectic as my own head on a Saturday night; those nights when you want everything at once and if you play your cards just right you’ll get it.
I remember those days back in Sheffield when I used to spend the days drinking with my best mate in the whole world, and we’d plan everything we were gunna do, and we’d dream too big and throw together grand plans and with the sun shining I always reckoned that we could have had the whole world if it took our fancy.
That’s what the best songs are to me – not songs at all, but bottled up feelings; captive rattling meteors. I have my world goggles that scream fire and my romance and it boils over sometimes and I get so wound up that my eyes fill up and I laugh out loud and I know in my heart I can change the world – and you’ve got to hang onto that, through everything.
Look, just play the fucking song alright, and tell me it doesn’t sound like all the youth and rebellion and uproar and violence and triumph and euphoria you’ve ever felt. If you don’t get it, you don’t get it; I don’t care, we don’t have to agree. It’s just me, doing me, being happy.
And I always get confused
Because in supermarkets, they turn the lights off when they want you to leave
But in discos, they turn them on
And it’s always sad to go, but it’s never that sad
Because there’s only so many places you’re guaranteed of getting a hug when you leave
And then on the way home, it always seems like a good idea to go paddling in the fountain
And that’s because it is a good idea
And we’re just like how Rousseau depicts man in the state of nature
Sometimes I like to write about songs that are special to me. Today the song is Born to Run; you know it, everyone knows it. It’s a hit. But there’s something about it I’ve not been able to put my finger on – a strange vertigo; a vague, nauseating sadness. And I’ve figured out why. Continue reading →