There are a whole host of inspirational figures out there, and some are more obvious than others. Here at The Indiependent we’ve picked a few choice individuals that have had a major impact on our lives. Tell us who inspires you @indie_pendent_
Kate Nash – Molly Carpenter
Most people know Kate Nash for her song ‘Foundations’, but many don’t know her story after and the many reasons behind why I chose to write about her and why she inspires me. ‘Foundations’ is from Kate’s first album ‘Made of Bricks’, which was released in 2009 and made it to the top of the UK album charts. However, when the follow up album, ‘My Best Friend Is You’ was released in 2010, it didn’t do so well and Kate ended up being dropped from her record label.
She admitted that it was scary to be dropped from her label, but also said that it allowed her to feel more in control of her music. Unwilling to give up, Kate went on to launch her own record label in 2011, and released her third album ‘Girl Talk’ in 2013. Kate’s resilience is one of many reasons why she inspires me.
Another reason is her activism and involvement in serious topics. An example of many is when she used an auction on eBay to help donate money to a young girl called Tilly who suffered from meningococcal disease so that she could afford a pair of prosthetic hands.Kate Nash is a supporter of LGBTQ rights and has performed at several gay pride parades such as Manchester pride. Regarding her sexuality, Nash explained; “I would never say ‘I’m straight, I’m bisexual, I’m gay.’ I feel like I will fall in love with a human being for who they are. I’m not afraid to say I’ve been attracted to a woman before and I’ve kissed girls before and been in love with them before. I’ve never really had a girlfriend or anything and I would never say I’m anything, really. I don’t have an identity in that way.”
Kurt Cobain – Alicia Carpenter
If rising up from the rough and shining as a true diamond isn’t inspiring, then I don’t know what is. Who could have possibly done it better than the legend that is Kurt Cobain? He took all he had (or what he didn’t have) and turned it into something that he could live for. Kurt went from being virtually homeless, sleeping in his car and crashing in hospital waiting rooms to becoming one of the most influential musicians in history.
An entire generation fell in love with Kurt. It wasn’t just the material he made with the fantastic Nirvana; it was his whole aura. He never stopped having the courage to be unique and through this gave so many young people the bravery to lash out to an ineffectual world. His scruffy, kool-aid doused hair and thrift shop clothes fit together perfectly in my eyes. Although his own world was majorly fragmented and seemingly bleak, his boyish charm and grit shone through. He got himself to where he had always wanted to be- it was just a shame that it wasn’t enough to rectify his own happiness.
Controversies arise when ascertaining Kurt as an icon. Many identified him as a celebrity drug addict who let a problem deliver him to an awful fate. Yet it’s not his end that inspires me: it’s the perseverance and integrity that got him there.
Kurt himself agreed with Neil Young that ‘it’s better to burn out than to fade away’. From where I see it, Kurt Cobain will never fade. His flame still burns bright.
Morrissey – Beth Butterworth
Whether you know him for his over-the-top performances with the shirt blowing open, for his signature gladioli, his views on animal rights (“I see no difference between eating animals and paedophilia.”) or simply for his music, you probably know of Morrissey. Yet, what I find strange is that even though he’s one of NME’s most influential artists, “one of the most singular figures in Western culture”, and lyricist/vocalist for one of the most influential bands ever, a lot of people don’t even know his full name.
Steven Patrick Morrissey grew up in Manchester and had a love of James Dean, television soaps and musicians like Marianne Faithfull. He spent his time writing to music magazines (NME, for example), going to gigs and flitting throughout various music scenes – but what I’ve always found inspiring is that he felt musicians and bands actually understood him – personally – and this is what compelled him to become a musician himself – he began writing songs and eventually discovered Johnny Marr (songwriter and guitarist for The Smiths) and they bonded over a love of music and songwriting.
However, I think my love of Morrissey lies with the music. He has the ability to write songs that make the listener feel every inch of what he’s singing about; he has the ability to make them feel his pain, and I think that’s a talent that not many people are lucky enough to have.
Benedict Cumberbatch – Annie Honeyball
Okay. Yes. I fancy him.
But before you dismiss me as just another hopelessly besotted Cumberfan, hear me out when I say that Benedict Cumberbatch is far more than just a pretty face. For a start, he is an immensely gifted and versatile actor, capable of bringing a whole range of characters to life with aplomb. Not only can he flawlessly imitate real-life figures, like Stephen Hawking and Julian Assange, he has also proved in his portrayals of Sherlock Holmes and Smaug respectively, that he is a master of fictional reincarnation – breathing a thrilling air of originality and precision into both performances.
But even putting his extraordinary talent aside, Benedict is still an incredibly inspirational human being – his charity work, for one thing, is extremely commendable in the fact that he has generously helped and represented a whole host of organisations dedicated to improving the lives of others. His Ice Bucket Challenge, for instance, was one of the most popular videos in promoting and inspiring others to fundraise for the MND association.
But personally, I feel the most profound respect and admiration for Benedict when I consider that he has been through some real life-threatening situations, such as when he was abducted and held at gunpoint by South African carjackers in 2005. The fact that he survived such a traumatic experience, and took from it the determination to ‘live a life less ordinary’ and pursue his dream, is so inspiring to me and goes to show that no matter what happens to a person, they can get through it and go on to shine as brightly as he does right now.
Amy Poehler – Samantha King
“There’s power in looking silly and not caring that you do.”
This is just one of the countless inspirational quotes Amy Poehler has given us over the years. As her performances all lie in comedy, there is a unsurprising yet no less riveting fearlessness to her acting, a complete lack of self-consciousness that shows how comfortable she is with herself. She is an extremely caring person – except about what people think of her. As someone who struggles with anxiety, she is everything I aspire to be like.
And yet, it’s her quieter moments that resonate the most with me; recently she has begun a web series on Youtube called ‘Smart Girls at the Party’ that puts the spotlight on young women from around the world (her continuous outpouring of support towards her female colleagues and women in general is something that deserves its own feature), and one segment features her answering questions from fans who are struggling with something, be it anxiety, break-ups, jealousy, friendship, it doesn’t matter how trivial; the fact she takes you seriously and answers with such genuineness makes them very comforting to watch whether you share the problem or not.
Amy Poehler is inspiring for a number of reasons, but mainly due to her unwavering positivity. No other person has instilled me with such confidence like she has, not to mention her advice is second to none: “And when in doubt, make funny faces.”
Thom Yorke – Emily Ingram
After six long years of devotion, hours spent staring at pictures on my wall and thousands upon thousands of ‘Reckoner’ replays, there’s only one person I may grace with the title of ‘My Inspiration’ – that is, of course, Thom Yorke.
I discovered Radiohead at age 12 in the form of the wonderfully flawless ‘In Rainbows’, and to this day I distinctly remember obsessing over every second of it. Put quite simply, the album completely opened up my eyes to how moving, complex and thought-provoking music could be. Music would never be the same for me-I soon moved onto the Bends (a satisfyingly broody album for an angsty 13-year-old) and OK Computer, continuing to fall in love over and over again with each new album I engaged with.
Yorke himself truly struck a chord within me with the lyrics in ‘Subterranean Homesick Alien’, a song I felt to be about isolation and personal insecurities, something I naturally completely empathised with as an unconfident young teenager. Even now, as a slightly-less-unconfident young adult, the poignant words they’d shut me away/but I’ll be alright still ring in my ears. Yorke continues to be utterly inspirational as a musician through his inspired dedication to independent music- seen, most recently, through his public slating of Spotify and the ingenious release of his new album on BitTorrent.
Since that first listen of ‘In Rainbows’, Thom Yorke’s lyrics have inspired me to do so many things – from writing, painting and meeting new people to simply getting up in the morning. He personally opened the door of music for me, and for that I am eternally grateful.
Tyler Joseph – Tori Fortuna
Though I have been a fan of the band for a while, twenty one pilots’s Tyler Joseph has recently become one of the most inspirational people in my life. I like to think that it comes from reading the band’s feature in Alternative Press this month and discovering how alike we are in many ways. I could relate entirely to him, as if we were the same person in two different bodies.
‘Our brains are sick, but it’s okay’
Lena Dunham – Beth Kirkbride
Lena Dunham has recently exposed the horrifying revelation that she was date raped in college, in a chapter of her new book ‘Not That Kind of Girl’. Whilst there are thousands of women who have suffered abuse and have gone on to be advocates for change, Lena Dunham inspires me because as a writer she elicits vast amounts of empathy from her readership. Although Dunham has been heavily criticised for the exclusion of certain demographics from her series Girls, I personally admire the way she manages to tackle the mundane “icky” aspects of life to create a really relatable and funny television show. The show is real and raw and Dunham not only stars in the show – she is the writer, director and executive producer… at only 28.
Dunham has no shame in displaying her naked body – she is frequently depicted topless in the show – and is an example to women everywhere when it comes to owning your figure. That is not to say she is without anxiety about her body; Dunham’s character Hannah Horvath explores issues with weight and struggles with mental anxiety and stress. What Dunham manages to do, in essence, is convey to the reader or viewer what it means to be human. I believe honesty about our problems and transparency about our personal experiences is the way that we’ll achieve real change – and I think Dunham is at the front of that march.
She’s really funny, a captivating writer and she – as a person and as a character – demonstrates that it’s okay to make mistakes and get things wrong. So what. Tomorrow is another day. It’s for that reason I find her tremendously inspiring – and urge you to get a copy of her book and watch Girls, if you haven’t already!
Kele Okereke – Ebruba Abel-Unokan
Why does Kele Okereke inspire me?
To put it bluntly, for the last 10 years Okereke has been a black, gay face in the very white, straight place that is indie rock.
Having suffered racist abuse at the hands of former Sex Pistols to invasive interrogation re: his sexuality at the hands of journalists, the path Okereke has chosen to tread as a black and out person in the media is dangerous and strewn with footfalls. Where others might have cowered away from the spotlight or hidden their identity if only for a reprieve, not once has Kele compromised his own integrity, in music or in interview. From songs such as `Black Crown`, in which he address the fractured relationship between the police and the black community, to that interview he gave to BUTT Magazine, Okereke has partaken in necessary conversations, saying all that needs be said.
For me however, the true inspiration [and indeed beauty] which emanates from Okereke is his realism. Not once do his words on sexuality or race feel forced or laborious, but as if they come from a place of truth. All he’s ever tried to do is live as any musician would, singing of life and love in spite of the world’s opposition to his very existence; it just helps that his pedestal happened to be one of the greatest bands to surface from Britain in the last decade.
Alison Mosshart – Hayley Lynes
Alison Mosshart – or as she’s known to many fans ‘VV’ – is the ultimate woman. The 35 year old singer makes up one half of the indie rock duo The Kills alongside Jamie Hince (AKA Kate Moss’ husband – er, what?) and has also worked with the great Jack White himself as lead vocalist for The Dead Weather. The Kills 2003 debut album ‘Keep On Your Mean Side’ (one of my all time favourite albums) single-handedly sparked my love of indie rock bands with female vocalists. She’s set a pretty solid precedent in my mind of what a female rock star should be like – tough yet feminine, with a set of vocals to match.
This is probably going to sound cheesy, but she’s just so freaking cool. Her admirable confidence, as well as her determined attitude, is apparent in both her song writing and general aesthetic – which is that of a typical New Yorker, despite being brought up in Florida, with a signature ‘model off duty’ look. She’s probably the only person in the world who can carry off a top hat whilst still looking ‘cool’.
OH and as if this wasn’t enough, Mosshart is an artist – and a great one at that. Her Instagram is full of snapshots of her own paintings (@amosshart) which really capture the singers’ individuality.Musician, artist and style icon – Alison Mosshart is a constant source of inspiration; there’s nothing NOT admirable about this woman.
Dave Grohl – Sohpie McEvoy
2007. A year where a fresh-faced, eleven year old me had yet to form any obsessions with anything (I don’t know how I was living). But then came the holiday that changed my life and introduced me to a band that would shape me into the person I am today. But that’s a story for another day.
If I ever had the chance to meet my hero, in a perfect world I would like to have a deep and meaningful conversation over our shared passion for music and classic rock, punk and everything in between. But in reality, I would probably be standing there wide-eyed, silent and in awe of the man standing in front of me. That man is Dave Grohl. A name that a lot of rock fans seems to roll their eyes and sigh over, which is a reaction that I wish would dissipate.
I could not have asked for a better role model to guide me through my adolescence. I’ve thankfully grown up in a household with a shared passion for music, listening to bands such as Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Who and Genesis from a really young age. But learning about Foo Fighters and Dave Grohl at the age I was, it just fit into place. I wouldn’t have picked up the guitar if it weren’t for him. I wouldn’t be into all the music I’m into now if it weren’t for him. I wouldn’t have the drive to share my passions with the world if it weren’t for him. Just seeing how far he has gotten with his passion for music as though if he didn’t have it in his life, he’d die is inspiring. And something that I can truly relate too.
He’s not doing all this for the money or the success, it’s his life or death love for music that drives him. Which is truly inspiring and what every young kid should take into account with not only music, but life. I mean, from a guy that learnt how to play drums on pillows that has become one of the greatest drummers in rock and roll history… that’s something to idolize.
Russell Brand – Michael Houston
I guess you could call my inspiration Russell Brand. It may be an obvious choice at present, but he really does inspire people to take action.
Brand has had an awful history with drug addiction, but has become one of the success stories of drug rehabilitation and has been clean for over a decade (apparently). Despite his recovery, he still thinks that the system for treating drug addicts does not work and has openly criticised the government for their attitude towards drug addicts.
On top of his views on drugs, the man is very funny and it’s a bonus that my inspiration loves West Ham. He is also a very wise man, in which I will go into more detail about.
Recently he’s been calling a revolution through his YouTube channel, The Trews. Although this is mainly political, his channel also speaks words of peace, love, kindness and generosity. What he does is highlight the inequality problem that we have worldwide (a statistic from last week (October 10) showed that the inequality in the USA is now higher than it was in the Roaring Twenties) and how corporations are brainwashing us and creating a larger gap between the rich and the poor. He also points out why politicians vote certain ways or make certain decisions and how the media can cover up or ignore issues across the world – with an example being the media bias in the Scottish Independence Referendum.
At the end of the day, he comes across as a man of the people. He helps the poor despite being rich (where only he would lose out), he is kind to all sorts of people, he is an active activist in the UK and US and he is also tolerable to those who he despises. In my view, he’s someone that many should look up to.
So who is your inspiration?