Two years ago, I was persuaded to open my teenage diaries to the world. Now I’m turning them into a book.
Emo Diary is a visual history of a period in time when everything was changing from technology to the way we consume music, fashion and the nature of celebrity. This book looks at the mid-2000s from the point of view of a teenager obsessed with a music subgenre as I engage with new technology, review concerts, discover new music, discuss every fall out and crush. I’ve compiled tickets, flyers, diary entries and pictures alongside essays exploring the era. Everyone had their own experiences, but this book provides a window into an era many of us experienced as we got to know ourselves.
Emo Diary began in 2004 when I was 11 years old. I kept a daily journal in which I wrote about my day, the people I crushed on, the music I listened to, the websites I browsed. I hoarded everything: tickets, photographs, show flyers, MSN Messenger history and letters from friends. I was in love with musicians like Avril Lavigne and Good Charlotte but as I got angstier, I discovered emo through Myspace and Limewire. It was more than just a genre of music -- it was a subculture that I could identify with. I began straightening my hair across one eye, listening to My Chemical Romance and Taking Back Sunday, meeting friends in the scene and going to shows. I was an obsessive child and consumed with the idea that everything ended; I wanted to record every second of this era that I loved so much.
My carefully kept archives went pretty much untouched until 2015, when I rediscovered the diaries and shared them with friends who were involved. I was unconvinced that anyone would care but they urged me to share it and I started an anonymous Twitter account (@emodiary05) where I would share funny snippets.
By this point I was a music journalist in London and I was shocked to realise that hundreds of people were reading it, including journalists I knew through work, bands I had written about in my diary and others in the community. I put together a zine with an illustrator and it was covered in Dazed, Kerrang!, Crack and PopBuzz among others.
Now, reliving my teenage years has become a professional interest. As a journalist I write about and interview artists that I have loved since I was a kid. I DJ emo nights and put on my own events at which sweaty 20-somethings scream out their pain through Saves The Day lyrics. I go to gigs for bands that I swore I wouldn’t revisit after I gave up my side fringe in 2008. Much to the dismay of my knees, I’ve even started skateboarding again. After rediscovering my love of emo at a club night in 2011, I have fully immersed myself in the thing that I was once so embarrassed to love -- and I am so glad.
I’m not the only one. Interest in my little project, the proliferation of emo nights across the world, comeback tours and reunions all show that emo is very much back. Not just in its old form but in the shape of new, exciting artists who are bringing it to the next generation. Emo Diary was once strictly personal, but since I have shared it with the world, hundreds of ageing emos have seen themselves in my words and want to share their experiences with me.
Diary writing has been around as a genre for a long time; it will never die, and nor will our voyeurism or our desire to recapture our own experiences. A book will be something we can all hold to remember a time that was very exciting and fleeting.