Leaving Sheldon School: Tears, Countless Memories And The Reincarnation Of Wobbly Dubstep.

Although I’m only really speaking from a personal perspective, leaving Sheldon School, after seven hard years of grueling service, was difficult to say the least. All in all, the emotion that comes with the departure is dealt by everyone, but not always in the same way. Some cry, some laugh and some make noise-riddled dubstep tracks of their head of year shouting.

I don’t know, I guess leaving school is just another one of those teenage milestone that draws up an almost overly familiar layer of hormones and confusion. On the other hand, it was inevitable part of growing up and something that’s going to happen countless times, i.e. leaving university, leaving a workplace etc. Leaving the depressing aspects be, our adieu from Sheldon School was an opportunity to make some final lasting impressions of the place that saw us mature from screaming, petulant children to screaming, petulant adults. Thankfully, this was an opportunity that was grasped by both hands.

Regarding the ironic nature of the sports day activities and brain teasing, banter swallowing quiz, they sadly fell inferior to the achievements of the leavers assembly, and in particular, the leavers video. Yes, the speeches and musical exhibitions were all very jolly and well received, but I’m sure the majority will agree that the highlight of the day came from the handiwork of media practitioner and chillwave prodigy Ollie Judge with his out of character edit of our head of sixth form Mr Seeley. Instead of continuing the seemingly tedious chronology of basic interview mock ups created by previous leavers, the inspiration of a much more complex and daring project came into the making.

The vision of sixth form president Claire Roberts was wobbled into existence with the creation of ‘Dubstep Seeley’, the grand finale of the Sheldon School sixth form leavers of 2012. Armed with a grotesque wobble, clichéd off beat reverberated snare drum and an avalanche of bass, Dubstep Seeley met all the commonplace gimmicks of the rotting carcass of modern day dubstep. Even Judge himself shuddered at the prospect of creating such a monster before the idea had even reached the production stage.

Musically, ‘Dubstep Seeley’ was of sublime quality. In relation to personal taste, and perhaps the taste of a lot of people who have endured dubstep’s fall from grace thanks to such ‘artists’ ad Skrillex and Rusko, it was terrible. Nevertheless, ‘Dubstep Seeley’ had achieved its prime objective. Overall, the song summed up every little speck and shard of shrapnel that was memorable about Sheldon School and especially its sixth form. From the comedic screams of Mr Seeley, to the disjointed twine of teenage freedom and relationships forged during the seven irreplaceable years we spent there. Sheldon was never a seen exclusively as a place of serious study and learning, but more a canvas that we painted to match how Sheldon School shaped us as people.

We’ll take with us memories, larks and retrospective thoughts and ideas that will inevitably lead us to the adults we’re yet to become. Also, we have one hilariously unearthed song to remind us of just how chaotic our Sheldon days were.

For a split second during our leavers assembly, mainstream dubstep was finally given a reason to be cool again.


You can here our discussion on this tonight at 7:00pm on http://www.sparksite.co.uk


Female Toilets – The Nerve Centre For Female Gossip.

An environment that is usually seen to be used for doing one thing and one thing only, is being looked at a little differently. What was once presumably a simple place to pee, is now a place of chit-chat, gossip and conspiracy. I’ve been finding out where the lines in the sand lie when it comes to boys and girls and their respective lavatories.

Every man knows the ‘code’ on public toilet etiquette. Whether it’s passed down through genes, taught at a young age or just subconsciously learned in passing, every man knows what to do and how to do it. Efficiency and simplicity are the key to male toiletry success. You enter, you do your business and then you leave. Stripped down to the core, that is exactly what is done. Upon one conversation, one which would develop into an interview following certain observations and enquiries I had made, I discovered the gaping distance between the amenities in which surround going to the toilet – bare with me on this.

For starters, the codes are completely different. While a man would go about his daily business in the same sensible manner he does everything, women live by a different set of rules that accredit their survival in an completely different ambiance. George Tunnicliffe, a sixth form student at Sheldon School, described the male routine as ‘you get in, you do what you have to do and then you get out’. In the female world, things work a little differently and to a much stricter code of rules that are far more complex than the male equivalent. According to Claire Roberts, 18, a student at Sheldon School, Chippenham, ‘there are two types of visitors. You have the “wee girls”, you just want to use the toilet, and you get those who go into the toilets to chat’. But why the toilets? Why not an empty classroom, or a private corner?

“It’s somewhere private that girls can go to gossip or chat about private things. It’s just a comfortable environment”. I for one, struggle to believe, going from what I’ve seen in the boys toilets, that the toilets can be a nice place to be. Urine puddled floors, dirty porcelain and filthy sink basins don’t exactly paint a perfect picture of the stability or abundance needed for such a conversation with your same-sex companions. However, the information I have gathered from other female sources have confirmed that, unlike the males toilets, the girls lavatory is of a much, much better condition. Gender bias, surely? Why do girls get to enjoy a sufficiently sanitised and squeaky clean toiletry while boys must endure the smell of excrement and anguish that fogs the reputation of the ‘boys toilets’.

Even so, Roberts went on to tell me that girls toilets are a ‘place for company. We’re happy to have a wee and carry on a conversation. When you want to go to the toilets, your friends can kind of tell. There’s a “look of understanding”, sort of’. When asking whether this look was universal to all girls, the answer I got should have been expected, given the previous information I was given. ‘Oh yeah, every girl knows when someone else wants to go to talk in the toilets’. It all seems a little bit too familiar for my liking. The code the girls have created for themselves fits all too neatly and freely around a very vague set of aphorisms. Are there any rules that you need to stick by? Is urination the limit of toiletry needs or can one progress to the next ‘level’? As I skeptically tried to force holes through what seemed like an impenetrable idea, my attempts were soon made unjust.

‘Of course there is no pooing. Absolutely not’. Florence Millington, another 18 year old student from Sheldon School, answered my queries. Again, another difference from the boys toilets seems to have been made. When no rules virtually exist in the males premises of deification, it would seem that women live by a code that coincides with a delicate level of toilet etiquette that must be acknowledged and closely followed. Roberts and Millington further emphasised this point in regards to more ‘feminine’ procedures, and made note of those who do not fashion these rules, much to the dismay of other toilet users. ‘Some people do not put their tampons in the bin’. Even coming from the perspective from me, a bloke, that’s pretty obscene and horrible. When the rules are not met, the mess must be managed, as you would think. However, in the kingdom of men, we don’t abide to this idea. If there is mess, we leave it. Almost as if it was nothing to do with us. Donna Clapp, 17, told me that ‘You have to wipe up any mess, no matter how minimal it is’. Stereotypically, roles and obligations seem to be adopted as soon as a woman steps foot in the toilets, almost to say that ‘they’re our toilets and we have to look after them’.

One must wonder how such private conversations and secrecy is kept within the confides of a social group when you would think that the close proximity of the toilets suggest that it’s not hard to overhear someone talking. However, Millington dubbed the hand dryers as ‘weapons of privacy’ to distort any audible exchanges that may be lurked on by others. Everything seems very thought out and legitimate, but I fear that there may be certain contradictions made over the idea that the female toilets is a universal ‘safe house’ for all females. After describing the toilets as a ‘safe environment’, Roberts added that ‘you can feel very self-conscious when you’re doing your makeup and someone walks in’. How can the toilets be a secure habitat when you are made to feel uneasy by others. Maybe there is a rule of jungle and survival of the fittest concept looming over the name of the girls toilets.

Furthermore, should males feel threatened by the female fortress that seems to be the central executive of all female behaviour and conspiracy? As males, we assume that if you cannot say what you have to say in front of our face, it must be about us. Whether it’s good or bad, that remains to be seen, but we still feel agitated by this idea. However, Roberts argues with this assumption: ‘Girls don’t go to whine about boys because they’re boys, we whine about them because they’re human beings’.

I’m still not convinced. From what I’ve learnt, the female toilets is not just a simple place for self-relief, but a self proclaimed and ruled ambiguous sanctuary of gossip and tears, guarded by a code that has passed the male species by. Whether males seem to be the main target for these conversations remains to be scene, much like what truly goes on inside the minds of teenage girls and what really lies behind those doors.

As for now, ignorance is bliss.

Hear all about this at http://www.sparksite.co.uk on Thursdays at 19:00-20:00!

Album Review: Twin Empire – Debut EP.

Crisp, Clinical, and created in the confides of his bedroom. Twin Empire’s promising accolades have finally been formed into an assembled product.

Tearing himself away from the indie companionship of Aztec, Ollie Judge has taken his chillwave solo project to the new horizons, compiling a selection of tracks into a collective EP. Uploaded on his Bandcamp and Soundcloud, Twin Empire has evolved from his simple remixing today’s into a subtly provocative statement with his new release. Tracks such as ‘Ribbons’ convey the minimalist and signature Twin Empire concoction, taking quiet, hollowed synthesisers smudging over the offbeat trip of chilled beats and serene effects.

Bearing the modesty of tracks like ‘What I Want’ and the album’s opening track ‘intro’, blurring a scene and sense of the rest of the EP, Judge’s mechanics wrench an unwrinkled phoneme that broaden his project. Fluid undertones and unequal connections creating a synthesized caption of ‘silent noise’ that drones over the EP play the conventions of chillwave matched by artists such as Balam Acab and Mount Kimbie.

Overall, the EP practices the formulas set by similar artists striving to produce an underground alternative to electrical and chilled out genres. Although his product emulates a desire to structure himself on the evolving picture of chillwave, there is still more room for creative achievement. A distinction screams to be heard in his music that would give it that ounce of edge and versatility that would define Twin Empire as an ‘artist’.

Having said that, it’s work that comes from the likes of Ollie Judge that push yet more room and bring greater recognition to the title of ‘bedroom producer’. A little something not many people have heard, but definitely should do.

The Greatest British Album Ever Made: The Debate.

Britain’s music factories have been manufacturing a globally distinctive and established sound that has shaped music around the world. Despite aspects such as genre, texture and concept, British music has always had a certain refined production quality that signifies it as a part of our union flag. In celebration of our national sound, I’ve been asking Sparksite listeners the ultimate question in regards to the massive legacy our humble island has created throughout the decades. What is the greatest British album ever made?

Andrew Garforth: Pink Floyd – Dark Side Of The Moon. “Sublime, perfectly formed sound and moving words. Recorded 40 years ago, and it’s not dated one bit”. One of the vintage ornaments that rest on the shelf, Pink Floyd’s mystic flood of progressive-rock kaleidoscopic triumph from 1973 has passed through the smoke of rock and roll fame. Recorded at Abbey Road studio’s in London, Pink Floyd’s signature LP brought such lunar singles as “Money” and “Time” that helped define the British prog-rock era. A fine candidate, to say the least.

Charlie Milton: The Beatles – Revolver. “To sum it up, it’s the apex of their expreimentation, influence and most importantly the sheer quality of the songs on the album”. Typically, The Beatles bottle in everything British music is about and always will be about. The ability to write songs that capture an audience in it’s mesmorising wake, whilst leading them to new, separate tastes. You’ll do well do find an artist today that doesn’t take any influence from The Beatles and the power of the Lennon and McCartney writing partnership. Classic tracks on the album include “Elenor Rigby”, “Taxman” and “Yellow Submarine”, stripping down the immesity of The Beatles aura, and justifying their selection. Albums like Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Rubber Soul could have easily featured in place of Revolver.

Charlotte Fuller: The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead. “It’s kind of light, with tracks like ‘Vicar In A Tutu’ but dark at the same time, like ‘I Know It’s Over’”. It’s really hard to pinpoint why Profoundly poetic, subtely heartbreaking and typcially sombre, fitting one of Britains most defining sounds of the 1980’s. The Manchester based indie pioneers peaked at number 2 in the charts with the The Queen Is Dead, flauting the flowers of hauntingly anti-nationalist bitterness and Morrisey’s sentimental anger and sadness. Music for hormonal, unrelenting teenagers, if ever I heard it.

Will Creed: Pink Floyd – The Wall. “The subject at matter is very profound, with the lyrcis telling a story. I think it’s a great album”. Pink Floyd catapulted an alternative serge in the presciptivist definition of British music, offering 1979’s The Wall as a further prog-rock supliment for those who needed the trippy, eary fix of Pink Floyds growing legacy. Moving strength to strength in the post-Syd Barrett Pink Floyd era, the themes of isolation, self-abuse and abandonment ring fiercly true in tracks such as “The Trial” and “Nobody Home”. One of the great British concepts albums that still carry an esence of Barrett about it.

Josh Carter: The Darkness – Permission To Land. “It was the first album I ever bought, and I just loved it”. Honest words to a surprise selection in our listeners album choices. A modern take on classical rock, boardering on the comical but maintaining an odd sensational being of enjoyment and fun. Scratching through the foil of serious music, and giving us a taste of the joy of music British has to give to the world. We all remember the constant radio bonbardment from “I Believe In A Thing Called Love”, that branded them as an unsung British rock hero. I take my hat off to you, boys.

 Alex Stainthorpe: The XX – XX. “It’s probably one of the best British albums in times. You can listen to it without being any specific mood. It’s chilled out but exciting at the same time”. Londons’s indie-pop foursome (now a threesome) cornered and slid between conventional pop tyrants to offering a quiet, simplistic alternative that soothed the bones of it’s listeners. Whilst offering chilled, dire songs about love and frustration, while reverberating instigating and tuneful songs that conflict a level of power through the album. Perhaps not one of the greats, but one to rival and set up foundations of a new wave musical dynasty, winning a Murcury Award along the way.

Lee Jewitt: The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses. “I first listened to it on my way to a Beautiful South gig in Nottingham in 1989. From then on I never really stopped playing it”. Maracas, shaggy haircuts and ecstacy. Popularising the acid house, indie rock era that carried through with bands such as The Happy Mondays in the dying days of Factory Records, Ian Brown and co produced one of the defining British indie albums ever recorded. Sour, tormenting tracks such as “I Wanna Be Adored” and “Elizibeth My Dear” contadicting with upbeat, shining guitar songs like “She Bangs The Drum” and “Fools Gold” shape the album as a powerful, reawakening symbol of the Manchester music scene’s ongoing forebear.

Luke Johnson (Aztec): Bonobo – Black Sands. “Influential as shit. I love all his stuff, he literally nailed it with that EP”. Again, perhaps another surprise choice. Tear away at the extrematies, and you’ll see reason behind Luke’s choice. As music becomes more technologoical, it gets harder to make records sound more diverse and stripped down. Bonobo give an answer to the quesiton ‘where is British music going?’. British music is following the painted footsteps into a minimalistic, chillwave electro direction, indicating a rich, underground sound that brushes over the broken sub-woofers with a more refined, thought over sound. A choice for the future, and we love that.

Dan O’Sullivan: Artic Monkey’s – What Ever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. “I think it’s definitely one of the best albums to come out of England over the past decade or so. It’s pushes the right buttons”. The brash, cheeky corse of Alex Turners voice, Matt Helders puncy drums and the commending raw guitar sound made the 2006 Artic Monkey’s debut album a chart topping record breaker, going 4 times plainum and selling a worldwide total of 2.3 million records sold. From the pub cultured Yorkshite suburbs of Sheffield, to topping the bill at some of worlds most acclaimed stadiums and festivals, the Artic Monkey’s have helped sale British music back to the top of world.

Tom Jewitt (Me): Joy Division – Unnown Pleasures. Ending on my personal choice, I can only place Joy Division’s 1979 debut into a very simple bracket. I’ve listened to a lot of albums, but I’ve never listened to anything that sounded remotely like Joy Division. There are similar bands, like Interpol and The Horrors, but the distinctive hollowed drone of Ian Curtis’ voice, matched by the croaky bass lines planted by Peter Hook, post-punk harmonies thundered by Bernerd Sumner all over the top of the robotic machinery drumming from Steve Morris, has always remained individual. Tracks such as “Disorder” and “interzone’ interwine the all but expired punk scene of the 1970’s, with the kicking and screaminf foetus of new wave post-punk revival. Even more poetically, Joy Division became a sound died along with it’s singer many decades ago, epitomising the brief moment in British history when music was never about money or fame.

 Listen to more choices from sparksite listeners tonight at 7:00pm on http://www.sparksite.co.uk