My Life In Music, with Kettle writer Matthew Hayhow

For most people, music is one of the most important things in life. It can inspire you, fill you with joy or even make you cry. But different music affects us all in different ways. Each week, I interview one of our writers or editors about the impact music has had on their life. This week, I talk to Kettle writer Matthew Hayhow about his life in music.

Describe your taste in music in three words.

Eclectic, electric, eccentric.

What’s your musical genre of choice?

I suppose I listen to what you’d call classic rock more than anything, but I’m into everything from swing to alternative hip-hop.

Your favourite band?

The Beatles. I guess that’s a boring answer; it’s like saying Shakespeare’s your favourite writer. But they’re the greatest band of all time.

Your favourite song of all time?

‘Echoes’ by Pink Floyd. The idea of a song being 23 minutes long blew my 11 year-old mind.

What was the first album you ever bought?

American Idiot by Green Day. This was my gateway drug into rock music, as it was for a lot of kids.

First gig you went to?

I actually don’t know. For as long as I can remember my dad has taken me to concerts. My parents took me to a Show of Hands concert when I was a baby but had to leave early after I fell asleep.

What was the last song you listened to?

‘Tell Me’ by Lilo’s Wall. They’re kind of a Simon & Garfunkel-esque female duo I discovered on YouTube and they’re awesome.

Which musicians do you admire? 

David Bowie means a lot to me because he made being weird cool. I also love Killer Mike for his social activism and making important, ballsy and intelligent music, even when hip-hop was all about flashiness and vulgar showings of wealth and sexism.

What’s your opinion on music videos?

Music videos have lost their promotional power, which is why less effort is put into them, and why most of them are bland and uninspired compared to the music videos of the previous two decades that have some sort of meaning or resonance to them, such as Spike Jonze and Michael Gondry’s videos. Now music videos usually consist of generic shots of people dancing in nightclubs peppered with product placement that are the only reason the video got made in the first place. I appreciate artists like Beyoncé and Sia who have still tried to do something interesting and cinematic with the format.

In your opinion, what’s the most annoying song of all time?

‘Ironic’ by Alanis Morrissette. It bothers me so much because it’s a list of things that aren’t ironic.

Who do you think is the most overrated band out there?

Black Sabbath. I get how important and revolutionary they were, but that doesn’t change that they only have a couple of good songs.

Where do you find new music?

Spotify, radio stations like 6Music and triple-j, and my more insistent musical friends.

Do you play any instruments?

I play guitar and piano. Well, I ‘play’ them in the same way Joey Tribbiani ‘speaks’ French.

Rock or pop?

I don’t think one is more superior than the other, but I personally listen to more rock music.

Classical or heavy metal?

Classical. Though this isn’t absolute; I think Slayer make better music than, say, Stockhausen.

What song will always cheer you up?

‘Tequila’ by The Champs. Not least because of the stupid dance my friend and I came up with for it.

What song always makes you cry?

The only song that ever made me cry was ‘Heroes’ by David Bowie, and that was the day he died. It’s a deceptively simple song, but the production makes it incredibly powerful.

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?

K-pop. Shut up.

What does music mean to you?

It’s the cream in the coffee, the salt in the stew.

What do you love most about music?

The spiritual bond that forms with someone when you find out that they like music that you also like.

If you could sit down for a chat with any musician (dead or alive) – who would it be?

Keith Moon. Just to see what would happen.

Tell us your best musical memory.

Recording a version of ‘Are Friends Electric?’ by Gary Numan with two of my friends. It’s borderline unlistenable today, but we spent so much time working on it, arranging it and recording it, that hearing the finished product was incredibly satisfying. One of those friends is a musician now so that’s 100% because of me. 

What’s your best musical memory? Tell us about your life in music in the comments below!