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 Navya Hebbar about her life in music.
Describe your taste in music in three words.
Mad, chill and paradoxical.
What’s your musical genre of choice?
This depends on the time of the day, usually. Bollywood in the morning, alternative rock towards tea time and indie-folk rock to lull me to sleep.
Your favourite artist?
I’m putting two down for this; don’t hold me to it – Hozier and A.R. Rahman.
Your favourite song of all time?
‘Follow You Down to the Red Oak Tree’ by James Vincent McMorrow – first heard this one as a part of the soundtrack for the movie Third Star in 2010. It’s been a song I associate a lot of sweet memories with, despite the melancholy.
What was the first album you ever bought?
Fearless by Taylor Swift *hides under the bed forever*
First gig you went to?
My first live gig was actually this year! It was Seafret playing at Plug in Sheffield. It was also my first music interview.
What was the last song you listened to?
‘Yes, Yes We Are Magicians’ by The Crookes. It’s been on repeat for a while now. Something sad yet playful about this one.
Which musicians do you admire? Do you have any musical role models?
I’ve recently come to admire The Crookes for their independent streak; they started playing under their own record label. Ustad Zakir Hussain and Pandit Ravi Shankar were my role models growing up. I used to practice classical Hindustani music and they are the musical greats I have always looked up to.
What’s your opinion on music videos?
Depends, really. Some are very tastefully done – they add narratives and dimensions to the music. But to make a multi-million project out of them is frankly ridiculous.
In your opinion, what’s the most annoying song of all time?
Any song by Justin Bieber. Honestly, if you play any of his songs around me, you are at risk of getting yourself punched in the face.
Who do you think is the most overrated artist out there?
Thankfully, One Direction split up. TayTay, Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber get my honourary mentions here.
Where do you find new music?
I don’t go by charts or listen to the radio. So I mostly stumble upon music at live events, on my friends’ Facebook feeds or go by recommendations.
Do you play any instruments?
I try to. I bought myself an acoustic guitar last Christmas hoping to spark a long dormant musical genius. Unfortunately, I haven’t made much progress with it. Apart from that I also play the Tabla – they are classical Hindustani percussion instruments.
Rock or pop?
I have a range of pop I‘d readily tolerate, but would always err on the side of rock.
Classical or heavy metal?
Classical, without a doubt.
What song will always cheer you up?
‘Pencil Full of Lead’ by Paolo Nutini. There is so much fun and energy contained in this retro number that it never fails to pick me up – “I’ve got a shelf full of books and most of my teeth/a few pairs of socks and a door with a lock…and nothing’s gonna bring me down”.
What song always makes you cry?
Songs that make me cry are interesting. I listen to them when I’m feeling low and have a good cry by myself; it sort of helps me clear my mind and makes me feel much better. It’s like having someone put into words what you feel but can’t articulate. Tu Hi Re was rendered in mix of Hindi and Tamil by Hariharan for MTV Unplugged. I can’t place my finger on exactly what it is and even though half the song is in a language I can’t understand, I bawl my eyes out when I hear it.
‘Someone New’ by Hozier is another song that sings of a sadness so sweet that I can’t help but shed the odd tear.
What does music mean to you?
I picked this up from somewhere on Tumblr, but I think the saying that “Art is how we decorate our space and music is how we adorn our time” describes what music means to me. I associate people, places and memories with different songs and the sum of the whole has come to mean a lot to me as an aspiring writer.
What do you love most about music?
That it simply is. You can take it to mean whatever you want it to or let it be. Music, like all art, is a powerful medium and the way it shapes ideas is what I love the most about it.
If you could sit down for a chat with any musician (dead or alive) – who would it be?
Ed Sheeran because I’ve heard he’s a nice person.
Tell us your best musical memory.
I wasn’t allowed to have an MP3 player until I was 13. So when I first got mine, a shuffle, I asked around and downloaded a few “English” songs onto it – Sean Paul, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Muse, Linkin Park and a few more. My friend and I went up to the terrace in school, skipped a lot of classes and just listened to music till my battery ran out. We didn’t know the lyrics to any of the songs but we still sang along. For some reason, I still remember this time and cherish it quite a lot.
What’s your best musical memory? Let us know in the comments below!