From Desk Until Dawn: lockdown gave us the time we needed to expand our musical horizons

When the Government told people to stay inside, us music lovers spent the hours diving into Discogs on a voyage of musical discovery.

Sunday, 7th November 2021, 4:45 am
When the Government told people to stay inside, us music lovers spent the hours diving into Discogs on a voyage of musical discovery. Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe

The past year and a half has had its fair share of ups and downs, but the chance to invest more time in crate-digging has certainly been my favourite eye opener.

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I'll be the first to put my hands up and say, hey, my music taste probably changes more times a week than I can count.

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Unplug my headphones and you might hear the steady beat and strings of disco drawing you in- or if you catch me on a bad day, the frantic kicks of footwork and juke hammering home.

Yet as unpredictable as I know my Spotify suggestions can be, even I found myself slipping into the same compilation albums, genres and artists when life got a bit too busy last year.

With streaming services now creating personalised playlists it's so easy to click shuffle and kick back to sounds that feel comfortable and familiar.

Who can blame us?

It's all there right in front of our eyes- minimal effort, maximum satisfaction and a new ear worm when New Music Friday drops.

Yet once I started my new plight of unveiling different sounds and unfamiliar genres during lockdown, I realised that perhaps I wasn't quite as satisfied as I first thought.

Here's the thing: once we get comfortable in the music we know and love and halt searching for something exciting, we stop learning.

Choosing what to listen to doesn't have to exclusively be a reflection of the sounds we grew up with, or what we like to dance to in nightclubs, it can be an opportunity to read up on cultures and movements from before our time.

From Fela Kuti to Desmond Dekker, Paul Johnson to Fast Eddie, the cultural significance of these musical idols only lasts as long as they remain in memory, as long as young people continue to delve into and enjoy their back catalogues.

But we don't have to travel as far as Africa or Detroit to feel these important musical shifts- so many have happened right here at home.

Take a quick glance at the last fifty years in Leeds and you'll see The Wedding Present, Gang of Four, Pulled Apart By Horses and The Sisters of Mercy all standing strong.

These artists shook up the city in their own way, transforming their sub-genres and giving Leeds something to be proud of.

Now I'm not saying that after my musical adventures we should all throw away our favourite records, toss in our iPods and start a new journey of self discovery, but once in a while let's break the mould and try something a little rogue.

Be it a reggae anthology or the works of Jonathan Richman, you may be surprised what you fall in love with.

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