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Featuring X – Full interview

When we met Featuring X, they told us about the value of communication, how they get through tough times, how they manage their time, with study, band practice and gigs, and manage to have social lives too. 

 

Featuring X – Full interview transcript

Niamh: I’m Niamh; I’m the lead singer of Featuring X. I’m in sixth year and I don’t know what I want to do with my life.

Eleanor: I’m Eleanor; I’m the rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist. I’m also in sixth year. I’m hoping to get into film, ironically.

Jenny: I’m Jenny, and I’m the drummer. I want to do fitness instructing and personal training.

Sarah: I’m Sarah, and I’m the bass player. I want to do psychology or biology.

Jenny: (Holding a cardboard cut-out of Daire) I’m Daire, I’m 18 and I want to be a pilot. I like guitar, I’ve been playing for seven years. It used to be an acoustic but now it’s an electric.

Sarah: I like gospel music and cats. Last Thursday we were playing a gig in our school, in our school gym. There was a Christmas decoration hanging from the ceiling, it was basically two big metal bars. That fell down while we were playing and hit Daire on the head.

Eleanor: She broke her nose. She got stitches and stapled in her head. It felt like a final destination movie!

The band

Niamh:  We were in transition year, so we had so much time. We were all really into music and it just worked out that we formed a band.

It’s tough now because we do have so much on our plate, but for most of us it is that escape from it all. People have their different things they like doing to escape school and the pressures of it all. For us, that would be the band and gigging and stuff like that.

Tough times

Eleanor: I get frustrated… well no, I kind of get stressed with silly things and worry a bit about some  stuff which I should not be worried about. I have kind of learned to think…what’s the phrase? Whatever will be will be is it?

Niamh: (singing) whatever will be will be…

Eleanor: Yeah that’s it, yeah. I just kind of, you know, think you need to think of the bigger picture. Just….I don’t know.

Jenny: I would just go for a run or something. And I love my animals so I just pet my cats. No I’m actually serious! You know, with people there’s pressure to be a certain way and to act a certain way. But when you’re with your animals you can just sit….like there’s no judgment or anything. It just nice being with them and that.

Sarah: I don’t know, like say I’m in a tough situation and I’m freaking out about it. I’ll kind of take a step back and think about it. Break it down.

Helping friends

Sarah: I think that you have to be there for them. Obviously try and talk to them, but you don’t want to bombard them. They might not want you to be asking them how they are all the time.

Eleanor: Just be an ear, just listen to them. If they want to speak just let them speak. If they don’t, just be there for company, you know?

Niamh: I think a lot of people who are in a tough situation…it might be something they don’t want everyone to know about. They don’t want people to be acting different around them because they’re having a tough time.

If anything, you want normality instead of having it hyped up. I think it’s a matter of being subtly sensitive and supportive about it. Listening definitely, and talking. Talking is always good.

Balance

Niamh: For us, stress wise and trying to balance stuff….even in the past month there have been lots of breakdowns in our year. People are crying and stuff, it’s kind of hitting home at the moment that this is a serious year.

I suppose the age we are at too, there’s this whole idea of going out. Even though we’re in sixth year, everyone is turning 18. We can drink now, and we can go out.

At the same time, we still have school and we still have to take that seriously. I think it’s the stress of everything together, all at once. It has all hit us in the same year.

Sarah: (There’s a stress) with not knowing where you’re going to be next year. You don’t know what you’re going to be doing, so you don’t know how much work you need to put in. You don’t know what you have to focus your work on. You get me?

Eleanor: There’s so much structure about school, you have to follow all these rules…but three of the four of us here are 18. There’s so much structure in school, but you’re actually an “adult” by the law. Even still, you have to deal with all these rules and life’s woes, you know?

 Fashion

Sarah: There’s so much exploitation of models in the media. People see that and they kind of think…..

Eleanor:  When I was, say, 13… I never would have thought about it like that. You’d hear about the media’s influence on teenagers and you’d be like “what are they like?” Now, you do see it and it does kind of hit home.

Jenny: I think clothes and stuff like that….the way people dress up; it’s for their own peace of mind. People don’t want to be different. If they’re not comfortable with themselves, they’ll try to be the same as other people. They don’t want to show their individuality because they’re not confident enough to do that, so they all just dress the same.

Sarah: I think there’s a lot of pressure as well. In your social circle you want to impress other people. It is a vulnerable age. You do care what people think, no matter what people say. Everyone does to a certain extent….that’s just how….like when people meet you, the first thing they see if your appearance, your looks, and how you carry yourself.

Niamh: I think we are moving on from that. I think it is still pressure for our age, but I think it is a lot worse for 14 to 16 year olds. You begin to realise about clothes, you’ll have your pocket money, you’ll be going to town surrounded by friends, and then the whole thing of boys come into it….

Sarah: Yeah it’s really bad at that age. As you get older, you realise there’s more important things.

Eleanor: You realise the people, like……. we have this group we sit with at lunch. You realise that everyone in the group is different. Looks wise, we are completely different.

If you brought us back to third tear, you would not have put us in the same group together. We all looked so different, we all had different interests. Now we are in sixth year, we all know we are different, but we accept that we are different.

Sarah: I also think….you can’t generalise…you can’t say “well this is how it is for people” because everyone is different. Some people will be more insecure then others.

Niamh: I think the fashion industry has become a lot broader recently. If someone dresses really crazy, (people will say) they’re stylish and it suits them. I think for our age group anyway…

Eleanor: Everyone is quirky and it’s cool to be quirky!

Niamh: Yeah, I think it’s becoming a lot cooler to be different which is good. And for us, as a band on stage, in front of people…

Eleanor: Everyone is looking at what you’re wearing!

Niamh: At first you’re really conscious about what people are looking at…what you’re wearing and the way you move.

Eleanor: Outfit repeating!

 Niamh: Yeah outfit repeating! Yeah but then it gets to a point where people are here to hear us play, they want to hear music.

Sarah: And if they do (judge), so what? We aren’t going to see those people again. So I think we’re over that.

 Communication

Niamh: On a band level, we are really together when we are on stage. People have said they see we communicate well onstage even when we are not talking to each other. Offstage, we are always supportive. Constructive criticism….

Sarah: It’s good because we have become so close.

Niamh: We can be honest.

Sarah: We can be honest together without being too personal. If someone says something like I don’t like that guitar line, you’ll take it on board.

Eleanor: Say if something happens in a gig and you’re like “Sarah, what are you doing?”

Sarah: Why me?

Eleanor: (laughing) I don’t know, I just mean you wouldn’t take it personally. It’s on a band level.

Sarah: You might be annoyed for a while, but you’ll get over it because you’re best friends.

Niamh: There’s always those gigs where you come off and just feel like…

Sarah: And not talk to each other!

Niamh: And be like “we want to leave”

Sarah: It’s good that we are so different. I think if you’re too similar you’ll start to grate off one another. If I had to choose someone to live with, I’d have to choose my band mates, because I’m used to spending so much time together.

Being yourself

Niamh: It works out. I think one thing we have learned in the past year is that things do work out. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

Sarah: And don’t get preoccupied over little things. You might think it’s a huge deal at the time but it’s forgotten about in a week.

Niamh: Don’t be afraid to do what you want to do. There’s always something, or a few things, that you might be afraid to admit you want to do.

I found in first and second year, I’d be interested in acting and singing, but I’d always be embarrassed about it. I wouldn’t want to tell people. Now, it’s totally worked to my benefit. So many good things have come out of it by just from facing up to it and having the confidence to talk about it…

Sarah: It’s really cliché, but don’t care what other people think. It doesn’t really matter so long as….

Eleanor: I tell myself to not be so scared to go up to people, don’t be so awkward in yourself.  When you meet someone…. there’s no hierarchy.

When I was younger I used to think…..you know, I just have this preconception of what people are like. I’d feel awkward going up to someone. So I’d say, you know, don’t walk on egg shells. Stand up for yourself. Don’t let people walk all over you.

Niamh: It’s always the people who, in your younger years, you’d be conscious to be cool around. Now you’ve come out on…..

Eleanor: Not on top, but I know what you mean. You see that from when you were young, you’ve benefitted from…

Niamh: The whole being cool thing doesn’t matter or do anything for you.

Sarah: I think it’s really sad that that holds anyone back from doing what they want to do. Being afraid of what the cool people think….they’re not any better.

Niamh: It’s irrelevant now completely. We are so lucky to have all the opportunities we have now, that they wouldn’t have gotten because they were too consumed with being “cool” and worrying how they appeared to other people…

Sarah: If people give you a hard time, you know, you can overcome that.

Eleanor: You can stick it to the man.

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