The Year is 2004

Ten years ago, 2004 was the current year, and I was at university. In fact, it was exactly ten years ago having just completed my first round of University exams. Ten years prior to that, in 1994, I was probably still playing Streets of Rage in my parents back room, the Internet was about two years away, and I'd never seen the "@" symbol in my life at that point.

(See also this post from 2007)

Decades are very very odd. It's a rather arbitrary number, I guess, ten years, and I've not even been alive for a full three of them - and in my life I hope to have managed to grab seven or more before I pop my clogs. As I approach 30 years old (for the record, I still have a year and a half or so yet) things are getting up-turned and changed a lot.

But let's cast our minds back to 2004 - what was I doing? Well, it was probably the first Hogmanay where I had drink involved, having just turned 18 not three months before. I had spent the Christmas break revising (presumably, as I managed to pass all the exams that year, if I remember rightly). I had made a few new friends at Uni, and had mostly spent my time drinking £1 (!!!) pints in the bar in the Union. I don't think I'd really integrated into University yet, not really seeing the big picture or the scope yet. My mind was oddly closed.

What I mean by that was that the world was still to fully explode - I was still to really discover music, film, art, politics, social classes... if there is one thing that Uni did that school could never do was open my mind to new areas and people from all over the country (and later the world). Despite growing up in a massive city, I still went to a small school and one that was bordered by class and race. My world, despite being "big", was still small, and going to University was just one thing that would change my view on the planet. In 2004 I don't believe I had figured out what I thought about certain things - indeed, as a 28 year old male, I still haven't worked that out fully.

2004 was the year that I really discovered music though. Seriously. I had been listening to music for a few years now, my music, stuff like Limp Bizkit, System of a Down, Linkin Park, The Offspring, in addition to other artists that I don't feel 100% comfortable mentioning anymore. But that was bred by a mixture of friends liking the same stuff, popular culture steering me in that direction, and  in 2004 I started to realise that I could like stuff my friends didn't.

That realistation is what has lead me to be here, in 2014, listening to ambient, drone, electronic and modern composition, when few if any of my "real" friends like that style. I know that, via Twitter and message boards, I am not alone, and I find like-minded people easily thanks to the internet. In 2004 though there was an odd worry about what I liked compared to what others liked. Did I like the right music? Was it okay to like certain bands? To be honest, I was skimming the top of the non-mainstream, liking Snow Patrol, Franz Ferdinand and The Futureheads, whilst at the same time Hope of the States, TV on the Radio, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, even Fennsz, Loscil and Tim Hecker, artists I would come to love, were releasing music that I was never going to come into contact with.

This time in my life is findly remembered. I am rarely nostalgic about university; a combination of doing a very difficult degree and not really being very good at it has never helped my feelings towards it. But at the start of my second year in late 2004 things had changed a lot. And I now can look back at that year with nostalgia - my second year is the only one that I fondly recall, partly because I had a few good friends and the degree was more about Chemical Engineering but not impossibly difficult yet.

Here's a playlist of artists and albums I remember fondly from 2004. Listen to it and journey with me to 2004.