Forged in Sheffield
23 January 2024
Sheffield has often been described as a humble but proud city. Proud of its steel, proud of its relish, and probably most notably, proud of its music heritage. As with the adage ‘you’re never more than 6 feet away from a rat’, in Sheffield, you’re never more than 6 feet away from someone who apparently lived down the road from Jarvis Cocker as a child, or went to school with Alex Turner.
It wasn’t until I received my yearly round-up for 2023 from a certain music streaming service, that I realised the music of this city has pretty much always been in my life. I’ve got my mum to thank for this as she’s the one who introduced me to Pulp at a very early age. I probably knew all the words to Common People before I could count to 10. When you think about the majority of chart-topping bands from the 1990s, a lot of them haven’t exactly aged with grace and decorum. But for me, Pulp are a band that have really stood the test of time, with Jarvis Cocker’s witty and pertinent lyrics, that still hold a lot of meaning and relevance 25 years later.
Moving on to another iconic Sheffield band – Arctic Monkeys. I don’t think anyone of my generation has been able to escape the impact of this band whether they like them or not. Their first album came out when I was still in primary school, and their latest just over a year ago, with 5 others being released in between. So, unlike Pulp, whose discography was 70% complete before I was born, Arctic Monkeys have been releasing new music throughout my childhood, teenage years and now, my adult life. With their most recent album, they received a lot of backlash for moving away from what some people think they ‘should’ sound like. However, I think it is a testament to their talent and creativity, and keeps fans like me excited to see what they’ll do next.
The final artist to make up my Sheffield triad is Self Esteem. She is a much more recent discovery for me, having only released her debut album in 2019 and a second one in 2021. It was this second album, Prioritise Pleasure, that really solidified Self Esteem as one of my favourite artists, with its raw and powerful lyrics, that can seem so personal yet relatable for so many. And you only need to check out her 2022 Glastonbury outfit for confirmation of her fierce loyalty to the city of Sheffield.
This humble South Yorkshire city has of course produced many more musical legends over the years, but for me, it’s Pulp, Arctic Monkeys, and Self Esteem who keep me bonded to Sheffield and proud to live here.