31st December 2015

2015: The Year of Music

So its reached the end of the year so this is a good time to reflect on some of the things I’ve done this year and to look ahead to what I’ve got planned for 2016 (Spoiler: Big things are afoot).

 

The Year of Music

For me 2015 was the year of music. Over the course of the year (mostly in the latter half of the year) I went to an insane number of gigs. I have to thank my brother here, if it wasn’t for him I probably wouldn’t have gone to half of them. His music taste is more alternative and pop where as mine is various genres of dance. Some of the best nights were at artists I hadn’t heard of or had never considered.

Heres the list in no particular order:

Dragged into a Jungle

In June I got dragged (used loosely) along to Jungle buy one of my good friends. Her dad brought a batch of tickets and she needed someone to take a ticket off her hands last minute. I was initially hesitant but eventually she won me around. It turned out to be a great gig. Had a great time. I’m so glad I accepted the invite.

Umusic Autumn

The story of Umusic Autumn was one of the reasons I ended up choosing the job at Universal. For one afternoon in mid September Universal Music UK hires out the Shepherds Bush Empire and each of the labels does a brief roundup of the year they are having and showcases some of their up and coming talent.  I missed it in 2014 but it was mentioned in the interview so I was excited to see what the fuss was about when it came around in 2015.

It was a fun afternoon. There was a free bar, food & nibbles and the presentations were quite interesting. Most of the bands that played were newly signed but there were a few familiar faces. Justin Bieber was one of the surprise guests from Virgin EMI (still not sure if I should be shouting about this) and Aurora, who later went on to be featured in the John Lewis christmas advert, played a few songs.

Amsterdam Dance Event

Back in October a friend and I went to Amsterdam for the annual Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE). This was my first time going to Amsterdam and ADE was a new experience too. I had a fantastic time, partying to the early hours 4 nights in a row. Came back totally exhausted and dehydrated but with some great memories. The best moment was on the second night seeing Hysteria Records where the whole club (Read: bar) was filled with CO2. They played some epic tunes and I got a free t-shirt. You can read more about our ADE adventure here.

Proms

The last night of the proms has always been something I’ve watched on tv with the family and is still something I’ve yet to experience. 2015 was the first year living in London I seized the opportunity to do it and treat my Grandad to the experience. He is someone who knows far more about classical music than I do.

We chose two nights, the first being Katia and Marielle Labèque (two French pianists) and the second being the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra with Nicola Benedetti. They were two great nights, I indulged in the middle class tradition that is tiny pots of ice cream in the interval and I think my Grandad enjoyed himself too.

I also got tickets to the highly contentious Radio 1 Ibiza prom which turned out to be amazing. The orchestra covered multiple dance classics including Right here Right now by Fatboy slim, Panjoo by Eric Prydz, Children by Robert Miles and Insomnia by Faithless. The whole crowd was on their feet for most of the night. John Newman (who was on top form) and Ella Eyre also dropped in.

It was unmissable.

South West Four

South West Four (SW4) is a yearly dance festival held on Clapham Common in London. Its super convenient for me as I live in SW2, so its only a short bus ride away. Typically for a bank holiday weekend the weather wasn’t great, but armed with a tsunami proof coat and waterproof trousers we were determined to make the most of it.

It turned out to be a fairly good weekend. We saw some huge acts in the world of dance including Bakermat, Watermat, Armin Van Buuren, Martin Garrix and Faithless. We saw Eric Prydz who headlined on the Saturday night, went home for some food and tactical drinks before heading out to the after party at the Brixton Electric where were danced all night long. Needless to say, Mc Donalds weren’t prepared for the influx of people at 5am.

Oliver Heldens who headlined was the highlight of Sunday.

After two long 10 hour days standing plus a long night out my legs were in tatters and definitely did not appreciate the walk home.

3 gigs in a week

2015 was abit slow to start gig wise, mainly due to starting work in October and tickets already allocated for the first few months of the year, but it picked up. There were a couple times towards the end of year where I would be going to multiple gigs in a week. In the last week of November I was booked to attend 4 gigs in a week – John Newman, Of Monsters and Men, Walk the Moon and Zedd. Sadly Walk the Moon cancelled their european tour due to the threat of terrorism but it was still a great week.

Abbey Road

One of the best projects that I have worked on this year was the Abbey Road rebrand. Looking to expand the reach of the world famous brand, the team were opening a onsite shop and wanted to rebrand their online ecommerce offering. This was the biggest project of the year, which initially started off with 600 products before being tamed to around 200. The project worked really well with lots of communication and involvement from both sides.

At the start of the project we visited the studios and met with a few of the team, spoke about the brief and answered any questions they had about the project. Afterwards we had lunch in the studio canteen and got a tour around studio 2. It was pretty cool.

I’m really happy with how the store turned out. It features beautifully photographed products, good looking fonts and a customised layout (which is harder to achieve than it sounds). It might be one of the best stores I’ve built all year.

A pre-screening at BAFTA

Amy Winehouse was one of Universals biggest artists until she died from an drugs overdose back in 2011. The film Amy tells the story behind the popstar featuring unseen archive footage and unheard tracks. Back in June Universal Music took over the BAFTA cinema in Piccadilly to show 3 pre-screenings of the film for Universal Staff and guests.

It was a fun morning and an interesting film. I didn’t know much about her before hand but it gave the lyrics in her songs have a greater meaning. It didn’t put her dad in a very favourable light though but I doubt that had little to do with the storytelling. I got moaned at by the lady I sat next too. Apparently it wasn’t the kind of film at you take popcorn to.

The cinema isn’t the same without popcorn.

Gatecrashing Woo Commerce

I gatecrashed the WooCommerce meetup several times this year. I met Marina at a WordPress London meetup that I went to at the end of April. For some reason she continued to chat to me even though I was gasping for air and dripping wet having very speedily walked from St Pauls to Angel (over a mile) in 15mins. She invited me to the meetup she organises with the promise of free pizza and beer. With that, I was hooked.

I’ve been to several of the WooCommerce meetups (but only one WordPress London) even though I have never done WooCommerce and have no real plans to get into it, the people are warm and inviting, the pizza tastes good and the talks generally informative. They also allowed me to go inside offices I would not have the chance to see otherwise. Paypal in Richmond was particularly interesting. Also got to go inside a WeWork near Oxford street.

Gardeners World Live

2015 has also been quite a good year for the garden. I was lucky enough to find a house with a garden and although my housemates (Read: landlords) were initially apprehensive about the idea and transporting the materials was troublesome, I did win them around eventually by keeping it minimalist and with the help of Uber – Hopefully it didn’t ruin my rating (although I probably did that when I threw up out of window after the christmas do. oops).

Gardeners World Live is one of the more commercialised events of the horticultural calendar and it is for that reason that I like going. Its paired with the Good Food show which not only ensures a hearty lunch but means that I can drag along friends who have little interest in gardening.

This year I dragged along 2 close friends, both of whom cook (and are madly in love with each other) and were kind enough to have me tag along.

My favourite part of the event is to wonder through the flower tent and try to figure what I should be buying. I ended up buying some more alliums and a few lilies amongst a few others. I had an interesting time getting them across London. No greenhouse this year.

I also managed to get a sneaky photo with one of my idols (Monty Don) at the book signing, despite not having a book to sign. Sorry about that…

Hotdesking

Having spent many evenings staying late and coming in on the odd weekend, my extra curricular activities hadn’t gone unnoticed at work. In May my boss quietly suggested that I probably needed to find somewhere else to do any ‘work’ (Read: Play) that wasn’t Universal work mainly due to Intellectual Property (IP) conflicts.

I spent the next 6 weeks trying to find somewhere that I could work. I tried home but there were too many distractions, I tried the British library but it was too quiet and too busy. I did eventually find Rentadesk who have 3 affordable hotdesking locations across London. My space is in Bloomsbury near the British Museum. Its spread across 2 floors, with plenty of desks, a kitchen and is usually pretty quiet, although I cant speak for what its like 9-5 Monday to Friday.

Its made ‘working’ in the evenings and weekends alot easier, with fewer distractions and people to chat to which was also nice.

Oh and its got super fast internet (which is amazing!)

Trying to learn Node

I’ve spent the last 9 months trying to get a grasp of a MEAN stack (Mongo DB, Express, Angular and Node) and I’m slowly getting the hang of it though I’m get to look at angular. I’ve got a little side project going on Github to try out the skills I’m learning. This also gives me the opportunity to build my portfolio with projects that I have full control over.

Redevelop 2015

I attended the Re:Develop conference in 2014 shortly before moving to London. It is one of a very small number of conferences in Bournemouth and at the time it was super convenient. This year I secured an early bird ticket, got the train down and met Luke (my good friend, mentor and the guy who is partly responsible for my love of code) at the front door.

The day consists of 8 talks given by speakers from all over the industry. These broken up into themes (performance,UX, business etc) split up for breaks were you can grab food, drinks and t-shirts. Did I mention that the brownies are to die for? They are the best brownies I have ever tasted. I have no idea what Heather puts in them(probably bad things) but they taste incredible.

At the end of the day theres an afterparty with free drinks (using tokens) which is the perfect opportunity to chat to speakers and attendees – Luke is far too busy to attend afterparties so he kindly gave me his tokens.

London Web Performance

One of the best parts of living in the capitol is the number of events and meetups that are right on my doorstep. The London Web Performance meetup is one of the best meetups I go to. They do pizza after the talk (which is very important), there’s beers too, the crowd are a decent bunch of people each with interesting stories to tell and the talks of pretty great too (the best leave you scratching your head wondering what just happened). This year they’ve covered some really interesting topics with talks from industry leading speakers including a talk at Twitter from Steve Souders, who is a big cheese in the web perf industry apparently.

Last year these guys sent me to Velocity in Barcelona – Something I very much appreciated.

I have been to all of the meetups this year (except December where I couldn’t get a ticket). I’ve met some great people through these events and appreciate how supportive they have been throughout the year.

Coming to a close

The last gig of the year was Mumford and Sons at the O2. It was a great night but marked the last night out in what has been a fairly busy year gig wise.

My brother has made the most of me working for the largest music company in the world and I have enjoyed broadening my musical taste, attending gigs I wouldn’t have otherwise. It has allowed us the opportunity to get tickets to sold out and last minute events which were great nights out.

2015 has been a good year, packed with nights out, meetups, festivals, and weekends coding. I’ve got a few things planned for 2016 already. I have made it through the selection stages for the Rio 2016 Olympics – I’m hoping to fly out in the summer to volunteer at one of the biggest sporting events in the world. Not sure what I’ll be doing but it gives me an excuse to visit Brazil.

So thats it, 2015 is over. Here’s to 2016. Make it a good one.

More big news to follow.