I always find it interesting to watch how people’s musical tastes develop over time. The stuff we’re listening to age 14 is likely to have changed by the time we’re 24. As an example from my own iPod Classic in 2009 (which I still proudly own by the way), stuff like this is perhaps best left in the past.
Like our listening tastes, many musicians also go through stylistic changes as they grow and develop. My mate from sixth form used to be a metalhead but now produces house & UK garage, for example. I’m no exception. Ten years ago, I was in an indie pop band. We would practice semi-regularly in my mate’s garage at the bottom of his garden in West Ealing. We would make some noise for a few hours then come into the house and eat copious amounts of toasts. It was a right laugh. We recorded a couple of EPs and played a few gigs, but ultimately things ended when we set off for university.
Musically and stylistically, we were truly an indie guitar band taking influence from the wave that was dominating the scene around that time – Bombay Bicycle Club, Two Door Cinema Club, Bloc Party etc. We were never as good of course – incredibly raw and unpolished – but that was predominately the sound we were going for. We were just 4 teenage boys with a couple of practice amps and a drum kit. There were no attempts at in-ear monitoring, sound insulation or anything like that. We simply wanted to make a noise (and eat toast) – all the more power to us!
It was when we started doing a few gigs that I noticed there were a few more factors to consider than merely plugging into the amp and turning up the overdrive. A lot of the other bands with whom we shared he stage were similarly amateurish, but you could really tell the professionals apart. They would bring all this extra gear with them. Stuff like in-ear monitors, on-stage mixers, or huge guitar effects boards. At first I thought it was overkill, but it made their performances sound 100% better than everyone else! As a naive 18 year old, it seemed like a completely new method to performing that was quite simply beyond my scope at the time. But as uni took hold and the band dissipated, I knew that if I was to make music again it would aim to look and sound professional, like those bands we played with.
Fast forward a few years. I wasn’t particularly musically active during uni (focusing instead on studying and partying, of course) but it came back with a vengeance post graduation. There was a hole and it needed filling. Studying in Manchester introduced me to electronic music properly for the first time. Acid House was practically imported to the UK via The Hacienda, and its legacy is being kept alive with the legendary Warehouse Project parties. I became really interested in the DIY punk ethics of rave culture – the fact people were making bangers on their laptops from their bedrooms. It inspired me to start making beats on my own.
What emerged was a new sound quite apart from the indie guitar years. The sound pallet consisted of a greater degree of synths, samples and heavy effects. This partly stemmed from the new music I was listening to, but also the convenience of VST plugins. It became far easier to noodle around on a software synth in Ableton than book a rehearsal studio and hook up my guitar to an amp.
Gradually, I started formulating songs out of my 4 track loops and jams. Leech was the first to emerge in 2018, and I wanted to rerelease it as a reference point to mark where things are at now. The first couple of years as WEST PARADE have been slow, but this lockdown has given me a chance to reflect and reiterate on its future strategy. It feels like I’ve put together a solid plan now, with lots more music and content to come. It’s a long way off from my teenage years, but I’m still making music. Stay tuned for more.