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22 November 2014

The Weight of Expectation

Sometimes inspiration stems from the most bizarre places at the most peculiar of times. It's a Saturday night and as a post-Friday recovery, I've spent the evening in a onesie, flicking through Glamour magainze, with Desperate Housewives playing in the background and slowly but surely getting through too much Häagen Dazs Salted Caramel.

 Between drifting in and out of ice cream comas,  I began thinking to myself, 'I'm a student, this is not how I should be spending my Saturday night'. And that thought process has lead to to this whole blog post. A can of worms has been opened.

Why is it, I, as a fully fledged adult, with no more or less rights than the next person, thought what I was doing, staying in instead of going out, was 'wrong'. Why should I have to apologise for not wanting to go to a sweaty club and getting drunk to the point of sickness. Why is the first question, when people find out you're a student, 'I bet Freshers was MAD'. This isn't the only stigma I've been noticing more and more recently, but it's one which has hit me with full force as student life has taken swing. If people want to go out every night or every weekend, I wouldn't ever stop them or judge them, so why judge the reversal? Am I not allowed to indulge my liver to a weekend without it crying out for help?

And the pressures of fellow humans doesn't stop there, only being 19, an age I would definitely still consider young, I am constantly asked if I'm dating anybody. And, when I say no, as I have been saying on and off for the majority of my teen life, the immediate reply is 'Oh what a shame', or 'But you're so xxxx (fill with empty adjective)'. And I've finally realised, actually, it's okay to be single. It's not a shame to not have another half. I have plenty of time for the love stuff. Being an independent person is not a burden, and I shouldn't have to justify it. Even the fictional life guru to all women, Bridget Jones, has a dependency on men like no other. But sometimes I just want to scream at the telly 'Man up Bridget. Happiness doesn't depend on Mr Darcy, happiness bloody depends on you!' Just because you don't have a man at your side, or vice versa, it doesn't mean there is something wrong with you. And it shouldn't be a reason for anybody to think there is.

Through my teenage years, I've learnt the expectations of the people around you, are the ones by which you judge yourself. And I just think it's something that needs to change. We are all individuals, we all do our things and have our own feelings and think our own thoughts. Some people want to be Doctors, some people want to be artists and some people want to be Kim K impersonators and that is okay. I'm sure she won't mind me saying, my younger sister recently dropped out of sixth form. She'd completed a year, absolutely hated it and failed her AS's, so after half a term of Upper Sixth (in England this is senior year, or the school year you turn 18 which is not compulsory over here), she decided it was making her life miserable and so, she never went back. And actually, all me and my parents were thinking is 'Thank goodness'. Sarah got herself a full time job within 3 days of leaving and is on a different road of happiness. Because these other roads totally exist, most people just don't want to give them a go when it's not the norm.

To be completely and utterly frank, I think people tend to forget their ultimate goal should be happiness. Self happiness at that. And for some people that means being a runway model, for others that means never settling down and for a lot they don't know where happiness is even hiding. But don't let your happiness be defined by other people and what you should or shouldn't be doing. If you want to go out and get crunk every night (maybe not quite so much liver-happiness there), then that's up to you and if you want to sit in and watch films or even go to the library and spend your evening there, people shouldn't be telling you that's not okay. That is totally, 100% okay. Do your own thing, be your own human being and find your own happiness through your own means. Expectations of other people definitely don't define you.

Ciao for Now!

16 November 2014

Living with Girls

I have never particularly been a girls girl. The thought of bitching and pouting makes me feel a bit nauseous, and after watching and hearing about friends experiences of the bitchiness within flats, meeting the girls I was about to share the next year with, was one of the parts I was absolutely dreading about university. In fact, I spent so long worrying about living with girls, I never really thought much into the perks. And thankfully, due to the girls I was put together with, there have so far, only been perks.

Living with a majority or only girl ratio has all these stereotypes. Bitchiness, squabbles, that awful time of the month when everyone synchronises (yes, it is a thing), but nobody pointed out how completely and utterly great it is too. I'm in the lucky situation where 3 of the girls I live with have become my closest friends at university, all of us are completely and have utterly different personalities, and we'd probably never have met under any other circumstances. But between the 4 of us, we all even each other out, and have created a fantastic friendship- something I never would have imagined a couple of months ago.

The amount of times we gather on each others beds after nights out, or tipsily knock on each others doors at god-knows-what-time in the morning, just needing a late night chat. Having girls in the flat means never running out of tampons, and there's always a secret choccy stash somewhere. When I unpacked on the first day and realised I'd forgotten my hair straighteners, I was immediately offered some by my brand new flatmate to use any time. The habitual jumping on the bed, as soon as an unknown boy has left your bedroom. The 'fitness benders' we all attempt to go on (which are then evened out by the chocolate binges). There's absolutely always somebody to get ready with before nights out,  and 99% of the time, there's somebody to stay in with too, when you're not quite feeling up to it. There's even a little Facebook chat, where we all arrange when to meet in the kitchen for dinner. There's the unmentionable perk of the attractive brother/cousin/school friend, who will come to visit. And, it goes without saying, whenever one of us is feeling down or there's a man-crisis, the rest of us are at the rescue with cuddles, Disney films and a bottle of wine (or at least one of the 3- we are students after all).

Basically, I just wanted to de-fear anyone else who is terrified of the moving out stage. I was so concerned I tried to block it all out on the lead up to university. But just because the photo's on your Facebook feed show the lives of girls keeled over from drink or the disgusting state of university kitchens, it doesn't mean it's all true. And I've found the thing I was most dreading, has turned into my favourite part of university- something I should probably, definitely be thanking the girls I live with for.

I hope you've all had lovely weeks so far, my life has taken an organised turn and I'm actually writing this on the Friday before it's posted, I've been at home for the week so I think that's where this post has sprung from!

Ciao for Now!

8 November 2014

Love at First Tinder

For those of you who have no idea what Tinder is, first off, congratulations, you clearly are in a loving relationship. Tinder is not a man. It's not a lady. Actually, it is not a human. It is an app. In fact, I'm pretty sure the original design of the app was for ye olde 'bootycall' in a true 2014 'technological era' style. But the app took off, and now Tinder is used by pretty much everyone, students, teachers, adults, teenagers, single people, relationship people (although this still baffles me), and now it's pretty much seen as a game. A game which should be mortifyingly embarrassing- would you ever catch a 19 year old saying they're online dating? But is actually very common place.

I have a Tinder. In fact, I go through phases of Tinder addiction. Particularly when it's my time of the month, sometimes being grossly over complimented by a stranger through the medium of text can make your evening a little bit brighter (especially when said stranger doesn't realise you're sat in bed eating Haagen Dazs from the tub and crying over Titanic). 

I downloaded Tinder with full, complete knowledge of what it was. You judge someone on their looks, and if you mutually like each other on the app, you can message. I later (quickly) found there were various forms of Tinder people. The creeps. The genuine 'I want a girl/boyfriend will you be my girl/boyfriend forever please' boys. The ones simply in it just for sex. And then the rest of us, who don't actually know what we're doing there and aren't looking for anything but let's face it, if a really super attractive person popped up, we'd probably all reply. Even celebrities have it. A couple of months ago Example wrote a tweet about it, and even I matched with a guy from The Lovable Rogues (a Britains Got Talent mildly successful band). And yet, despite being fully clued in to the app, I still delete it on a weekly basis. 

So why do I delete it? I suppose it's because every so often, I have a deep talk with myself and realise Tinder is quite simply a shallow, self indulgent app. Obviously, it's why I love it. But it's probably, definitely, not going to lead to anything, and if it does, do we really want to be telling our future children how we met? I'd be prepared to lie for generations rather than tell somebody I met my life partner through an app. I constantly complain about the lack of believability in films (where is my Noah? My name is practically Allie), but the chances of the love of my life accidentally knocking into me in a coffee shop one day or sitting next to me on an aeroplane by chance are pretty slim if it's through Tinder. Because, yknow, on Tinder we'd probably both be in our bedrooms. Bored.

Despite the doubts and the constant deleting of the app, there is no doubt I love to hate it. The judging, the cruel 'unmatching marathon' after a drunken Tinder Fest. The realisation you and your best friend are both chatting away to the same bloke. The awkward 'we have 86 mutual friends, skip skip skip SKIP'. But that's quite literally what we all signed up for. I may not meet my true love on Tinder (mainly because I don't want to), but there's no denying, once you get through the creepy sex driven guys and gals, it is definitely good fun. And nobody can even be embarrassed about the concept, because so-bloody-many of us have it. 

I hope you've all had wonderful weekends!

Last weeks blog interview has given me the motivation I needed and now I am just so excited to be back full time on Alice's Antics.

Ciao for Now!

3 November 2014

Coffee Chats with Lauren Aquilina

In early 2011 just as I was embarking on my own Youtube world, I came across a singer in the 'recommended' section of the website. Youtube comments lead to Twitter follows which led to Facebook friends, and now the lovely Lauren Aquilina is sat opposite me in a coffee shop after nearly 4 years of chatting via the world wide web. Lauren ever so kindly agreed to me asking a few questions especially for you, my favourite minions. Whilst I stopped with my musical Youtube life, Lauren persevered, and now with over 3 million views on Youtube, over 100'000 EP's sold, Radio 1 backing her every move, this years headline act on the Introducing Stage at Reading and Leeds festival and a recent deal with Island Records, the world is quite literally Lauren's oyster. Please God, nobody remind me we're the same age.

After running to catch the train and finally arriving at Windsor, admiring the castle and finding a much needed coffee shop, we began our little informal interview. 

The amazing Fools EP has just celebrated its 2nd birthday and the trilogy has sold over 100’000 copies, did you have a defining ‘oh my god moment’? 
For the last EP I had a billboard put up with all my supporters names on it, I just remember walking out of the tube station and going ‘Ahhhhhhhh!’  that was definitely one of the coolest moments. It was something else.

To add to your list of achievements, you signed a record deal with Island Records this year, is this going to change much? Can you explain a little about any differences that might occur because of it? 
To be honest, I’m the only one who will notice any differences. The main difference has just been more people in charge! More opinions, more people to please, sometimes it can get a bit ‘too many cooks’ but then you just learn to write for yourself. In general, everyone’s just been really supportive of me!

There are thousands of people trying to make it through the Youtube community, why do you think you’re one of the lucky few who has ‘made it’? 
Timing was a big part of it, I just caught the end of the ‘Youtube musician phenomenon’ but even with me, labels were already very wary of the whole thing because so many musicians had been signed through Youtube and some hadn’t done as well as expected, whereas others did far  better than expected. There was also strategies most musical Youtubers learn like covering highly anticipated songs as soon as they come out. 

Do you think coming from Youtube means you have a better relationship with your fans than somebody who’s found fame in a different way, through a talent show etc?
 I don’t think I would class myself as a ‘Youtuber’… my thing was always social media, constantly updating and finding ways to make people feel involved, saying thank you to everyone who’s supported me. Social media helped me and to be honest, more than anything I’d say Youtube has created a bit of a barrier, but Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr all created an amazing relationship. I love that people feel like they can talk to me and don’t see me as some kind of weird higher entity.

Where does your writing inspiration come from?
It’s all autobiographical. Sometimes I try to write songs that aren’t autobiographical because I think it’d be easier, but the best songs come out in 10 minutes, drawing from my life. My EP’s were about one relationship and one person, and it all sort of followed through, despite not being intentional. And the next period of my life has obviously been adolescence, which is what the album will be about.

Has there been a noticeable difference in the writing and recording of your first EP Fools, and the final one, Liars? 
YES. I was in the exact same room with the exact same person, using the exact same equipment, but the first EP happened so naturally and came so easily and the last one was so stressful! I wasn’t signed yet but I was in talks with the label who were treating me as if we’d already signed and I had to send them so much. Nobody liked the main track Lovers or Liars, the team, my manager, myself. It was so much more of a stressful experience. I felt a bit rushed, even the second EP wasn’t an ideal situation because I was doing my A Levels at the same time.

Which song from the 3 EP’s means the most to you? 
Ummmm….. Wonder. It’s between Wonder and Fools but Wonder just beats it. I can listen to it now and still go back to how I was feeling at the time I wrote it.

Who are your main musical influences?
Ellie Goulding, Bon Iver, M83, Imogen Heap, Coldplay, oh god, so many. I love new music. I am such a new music fiend. 

Can you let us in on what you have planned for the future?
Well I’m writing my album at the moment, I have no idea when it’ll be ready but I want it out next year. It’s my main goal and I literally can’t think past that!

Finally, I can’t let you leave without talking about that tweet from Taylor Swift… I almost screamed for you and I’m just your friend, can you try and put into words how you felt?
So I was in my house, and I do this thing where as soon as my family go to bed, I like crawl out of my room and just creep downstairs and spread out and am like ‘Aaaaaaahhhh I have all of downstairs to myself!’ Every single night. And that night was no different, I had ice-cream and hot chocolate, and had Harry Potter on. I was about an hour into Harry Potter, my laptop was open on Tweet Deck next to me and suddenly out of the corner of my eye I saw my Tweet Deck go mental!  The first tweet I properly saw was my friend Orla’s… I went on Taylor Swift’s profile and literally just said ‘Oh my god’ and then I freaked out and called my publisher (who wasn’t that happy to be called at 1am) and almost cried. I was texting my manager and my phone was going mental and it took like an hour for it to sink in, and then every time I dealt with it I freaked out again! Imagine all the people who follow Taylor Swift. I don’t think I’ll ever get over that. 

The official question bit ended and much girl talk and life talk followed. I always bang on about the wonders of the world wide web, and after so long of talking to this lovely lady online, we quickly realised a beautiful friendship had emerged from our tweeting and facebooking.  Quick selfies followed to document our 'oh my goodness we've finally met' moment, and after what felt like 2 minutes but was actually 3 hours, I boarded the train back to University.

All of Lauren's links are found below, including the downloads to her EP's. Which I highly 1000% recommend you download. 

I hope you all enjoyed this new style of blog and are all having lovely weeks!

Ciao for Now! 

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