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Author Topic: How'd you start listening to that? (a bloggy thread.)  (Read 3257 times)

ruyi

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I would title this "your relationship with music" cos I feel like that's more broad and captures more of what I want to get at, but that also seems kinda general and vague on its own so maybe less people would click on the thread? v :mrgreen: v (jesus since when has he been called mr. green)

I was just reading threads in here for the first time in a while and I was thinking, you guys have really interesting things to say about music! But then I also feel like I don't have much to contribute to your discussions, since I don't really listen to a lot of the things that you guys listen to and thus don't have any relevant examples to make claims from.

(Though I was just reading the board theory thread, and it reminded me of how my reaction to certain bands was picked up from certain posters I respect. It's really odd! I mean, it's kinda less the case these days, but it was funny how reading this forum at an age where I started getting serious about listening to music really informed my evaluation of contemporary genres, even though I didn't end up, well, liking the things that I developed respect for.)

Anyways, I'm interested in stories about your relationship with music, especially when you were growing up. I said "listening" cos it seems that that's what discussion here will center on most often but of course I'd also love to hear about how you came to play an instrument, compose or mix things on your computer, and so on.

I hope to come back and write more about my experiences with different kinds of music, but here's my post in the meantime. I have given it a boring topic-title for your convenience :mrgreen: but don't feel obliged to do the same.



Playing classical piano:

I started playing piano when I was three, so from a very young age, I spent time trying to learn and do what was expected of me by a teacher, and I believed that this of kind of practicing determined whether my music was "good" or not. The experience got me listening to classical music, so I always remember having at least a hazy familiarity with the big-name composers, the four time periods, and what not.* I also got familiar with a repertory of standard piano works for beginners, since they generally came up again and again at the recitals for all my teacher's students.

Listening to recordings didn't really figure in for me here. How "good" we played ultimately hinged on how well we performed, which depended on--but was not guaranteed by!--how hard we practiced. I always found this frustrating, cos it seemed that something like visual art didn't have this problem, where you could work really hard but then choke up on a day of reckoning and thus have nothing to show for it. (I should say, though, that this isn't really how I think about things now.)

For the most part, this was all happening within a closed community of a bunch of families who all knew each other. With a teacher that I had when I was younger (like age 3-8), this was pretty nice, and felt kind of like a big extended family, especially since a lot of them might be Chinese or Christian like my mom. But with a teacher I had after moving to a different city (8-16), it did feel pretty tense and pressured, even though a lot of the families attended the same (Chinese Christian) church. The new teacher was stricter, but perhaps it was also the age when crying about this sort of thing was more likely to happen. Or actually I might have just been bad at making friends, I dunno, I mean other kids might have had more fun than me. Wait yeah now I think they probably did.

I do remember this teacher was very...orthodox. She'd often express disapproval at the idea of "just playing the notes," as in, doing things kinda however you liked, without thinking about traditional expectations and attention to detail. She would describe this kind of playing as "sloppy," or like a "street entertainer." I never got to talk to her about this, but when I think about this now, this attitude really bothers me, the belief that one shouldn't play in this way, or that entertainment is, you know, mere entertainment, and thus bad. It also felt like she was implying that my playing in contexts like church or for friends was somehow less important or less legitimate than my playing in recitals/competitions. Of course, now I feel that it's the reverse--the former contexts are really the only things that matter for sure, while the latter only matters if you intend to pursue classical performance vocationally. Anyways, it's one of those things where I didn't explicitly adopt her beliefs, but it took work for me to bring these assumptions that I had absorbed to mind so that I could actively disagree with them, if that makes sense.

All of this playing involved my mom a lot, since she'd always push me to practice regularly (though of course, as I grew up, it becomes trickier to keep saying that she pushed me) and she'd evaluate my recitals as well. On the one hand, it was nice that she cared about me so much in this routine, even mundane way. (Actually I guess a lot of things about 'a parent's love' are routine/mundane.) On the other hand, this meant that my musical performance could affect our relationship pretty powerfully. If I didn't practice very much and performed poorly, the consequence wasn't just that my music was "bad"--it also made her upset, and she would complain that I didn't value her time/financial investment in my lessons, or even that I didn't care about her.

(This dynamic is probably familiar to a lot of you--I mean, there is a stereotype for it. I'm only bothering to spell it out because I feel like it still affects my experience when I listen to recordings / attend performances of this kind of music.)

I've never really had the feeling that music could "belong" to me, even when it was my body that was doing it. Instead, it felt kinda like I was trying to get at intimacy with works of music. I think a lot of this comes from the idea that classical works are just kinda there and as a performer you just have to, you know, interpret or approximate it as best you can. There's also the fact that we were studying piano; I think most other commonly-studied instruments require you to play with other people and other kinds of instruments on the regular. So with classical piano, music could feel somewhat isolating. Actually, perhaps not isolating, but it did entail very sharply delineated roles. I mean, listening was still in tandem with a group of other people, but for the most part, you worked on your pieces by yourself, and you thought of your performances as solo.

It wasn't until later that I really experienced playing music in a group, and honestly, I still kinda find it hard to wrap my head around, though I have different reasons for different kinds of music.

Shoot, I didn't really get to how I listen to this kind of music these days, but I am really tired. Maybe later.

*Apparently "Western Art Music" or "Common Practice Period" are some new terms floating around in lieu of "classical"? Also I guess the four periods thing is bs too.



potential later topics, so that I remember - church youth group music, top 40 on the radio in middle school and now, dumb things from my daily headphone listening
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Re: How'd you start listening to that? (a bloggy thread.)
« Reply #1 on: 19 Feb 2011, 20:16 »

Geez as though I didn't have enough projects to complete this week  8-)
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Re: How'd you start listening to that? (a bloggy thread.)
« Reply #2 on: 20 Feb 2011, 01:08 »

john that was the least appropriate place to use :coolguy: fyi
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Re: How'd you start listening to that? (a bloggy thread.)
« Reply #3 on: 20 Feb 2011, 02:23 »

Shut up I was in a hurry to get to a hardcore show geez
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ruyi

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Re: How'd you start listening to that? (a bloggy thread.)
« Reply #4 on: 20 Feb 2011, 04:37 »

john that was the least appropriate place to use :coolguy: fyi

ummmm no put downs in my threads please???? esp wrt emotes...
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Re: How'd you start listening to that? (a bloggy thread.)
« Reply #5 on: 20 Feb 2011, 05:09 »

Shut up I was in a hurry to get to a hardcore show geez
Why? I've heard the kind of hardcore bands Fort Collins gets. The less you hurry, the less you suffer.
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Re: How'd you start listening to that? (a bloggy thread.)
« Reply #6 on: 20 Feb 2011, 15:36 »

There was an asian dude with a sax so I guess that was pretty gay (white dudes screaming guitars ftw) but it was fun shut up Fort Collins is adequate.

Anyway I will have Stories later on for you Roo.
« Last Edit: 20 Feb 2011, 15:38 by KvP »
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Re: How'd you start listening to that? (a bloggy thread.)
« Reply #7 on: 21 Feb 2011, 10:25 »

Traditionally I have had two primary methods of discovering new music: nerdery and cover versions (with the occasional tidbit of advice from a friend or acquaintance and on a few memorable occasions a chance live viewing). Nerdery revolves around both research into various genres and artists and also (much more so when I was first starting out) trying to find songs that are about things I liked. Here's a classic train (simplified a bit): When I was younger I was obsessed with vampires. One time I typed into Kazaa (this dates things a touch!) 'Countess Bathory'. These are probably the best two words I ever typed, as they lead me to Venom's 'Countess Bathory', Candlemass's cover of the same, Tormentor's 'Elizabeth Bathory', several songs by the band Bathory and Cradle of Filth's 'Bathory Aria'. I wasn't really ready for Tormentor or the early Bathory material at that time, but I jumped straight in to the other bands. Cradle of Filth were particularly key in my musical development, not because of their music per se (although internet research, populated largely by rants about how shit they were, lead me to listen to Emperor, Satyricon, Dimmu Borgir, Dissection, etc.) but because of the various bands they'd covered. At the time of first listening to them Cradle of Filth had covered tracks by The Misfits, Sodom, Venom, Sabbat, Sisters of Mercy and Iron Maiden. In fact, I got into the true classics of metal entirely arse-backwards, through covers (Cradle of Filth's 'Hallowed be thy Name', Arch Enemy's 'Starbreaker', White Zombie's 'Children of the Grave', Graveworm's 'Fear of the Dark' (reliably mis-labelled as CoF on early file-sharing networks). Research involved identifying the genres of my favourite artists and looking through reviews, sites etc. online to try and find the supposed exemplars of these styles. This lead me to many of my favourite bands in various genres: Darkthrone, Burzum, Edge of Sanity, Bolt Thrower, Alien Sex Fiend and so on were all discovered in this way. Obviously, I was using filesharing much more than I was physically buying music, a pattern which largely continues to this day (I only really buy vinyl now).

I was never in the 'metal ghetto' exclusively for very long. I had always had an interest in industrial rock (the first CD I ever bought was Rammstein's 'Mutter', the bonus disc edition, now rendered unplayable by a long succession of £10 CD walkmen), and I decided at about age 14 that I was a goth. I researched the matter of being a goth fairly assiduously, reinforcing Sisters of Mercy and Nine Inch Nails with Bauhaus, ASF, Joy Division, Christian Death, and so on. I also got in to EBM, Futurepop and related acts, much to the derision of my rocke friends (who bizarrely considered VNV Nation and Funker Vogt to be 'chav music'). I also had some punk and classic rock taste inherited from my parents.

Probably the biggest seismic shift happened when I discovered neo-folk. I actually came to post-industrial before I had really penetrated to the roots of real old-school industrial, at I guess the age of about 16 or 17. I'd actually picked up a few random releases which I'd had (and enjoyed) for years before I realised that it was a particularly widespread style of music. I can't really remember how I came across them (probably chance downloads on DC++) but I distinctly remember having Of The Wand & The Moon's 'Emptiness:Emptiness:Emptiness' and, bizarrely, Backworld's 'The Orchids' EP (an obscure release by a fairly obscure band). What really got me hooked was another cover version. This one being Agalloch's cover of Sol Invictus' 'Kneel to the Cross' (from the 'Of Stone, Wind and Pillor' EP). I downloaded Sol Invictus 'Death of the West' (the album from which Kneel to the Cross comes) and was blown away. Further Sol Invictus followed; internet research kept turning up the names 'Current 93' and 'Death in June'. I remember, the first time I heard it, listening to 'A Song For Douglas After He's Dead' by Current 93 about a hundred times in a row. I burned 'Rose Clouds of Holocaust' and a few tracks from 'But, What Ends When the Symbols Shatter?' to a CD and listened to them for weeks on the way to and from school. This was, for me, the ultimate shit; though try as I might I could never get any of my friends very interested in it, which upset me a bit. It was from this point that I actually got into real industrial: I downloaded Coil's 'An Angelic Conversation', thinking it would be neo-folk, listened to it once and was obviously dissapointed. A few months later it came back on Random and I scrambled to download everything Coil related I could get my hands on. Love's Secret Domain was the soundtrack to a fantastic week in the spring of 2005 when my father was away on business and I simply skipped school entirely, and lay in a hammock in the back garden smoking, reading Illuminatus! and listening to LSD on my stereo. From thence, Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV, Laibach, The Legendary Pink Dots, Einsturzende Neubauten, Cabaret Voltaire, etc. etc.

These days, a lot of my music comes from last.fm recommendations or from scouring the charts of known fellow-travellers. I sometimes wish that my process of discovering music had been less...isolated I suppose is the word I suppose I might use. I have met very few people in real life who share my tastes and obsessions, none of them fully, and given how huge a part of my life music is, that's rather sad for me. I listen to music literally all the time: whilst I work, whilst I sleep, whilst I walk, whilst I run etc. and the seperation of my tastes from other people, I think, is a contribution to my pangs of anomie and alienation. I suppose you could say that I am diametrically opposed to the cliche of the 'poseur', someone who affects a taste for (often a watered down, commercialised version) of some subcultural or slightly abstruse music genre in order to appear 'different', in that I, often, feel my 'individuality' to be something rather negative to my mental health and wellbeing. Particularly when I was younger I made numerous attempts to appreciate more normal or well-known musical genres. I tried forcing myself  to listen to Radio 1 (literally couldn't stand it), tried going clubbing at 'indie nights'* and various hip-hop, garage etc. things (Became intensely agitated, had to leave early in most cases, unless I was taking drugs), and buying various almost instantly regretted albums. I remember buying Nirvana's 'Nevermind' and trying on and off for weeks to listen to it but I actually physically couldn't last one playthrough. I have no idea why, particularly, except that I found it intensely boring, and my mind was constantly running through the hundreds of CD's I had by bands I did like, or the literally weeks of MP3s squirrelled away on my hard drive, and I would almost inevitably just crack about the fourth or fifth track, turn it off and put some Orange Goblin on.

Like, seriously, I have an almost physical revulsion to music I don't like. I think there might be something wrong with me. The only thing that saves me, really, is that my taste is very broad, and constantly broadening, so maybe one day I will finally expand my horizons enough, or mainstream culture will change enough, to produce music I like, so i can actually go out and socialise normally and not feel like I've just dropped through a fucking warphole into the Evil Mirror Dimension. Not gonna bank on it though.



*In the UK the words 'indie' and 'rock' are essentially synonymous in the minds of promoters

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Re: How'd you start listening to that? (a bloggy thread.)
« Reply #8 on: 22 Feb 2011, 00:10 »

For most of my life, I listened pretty much to what my parents played on the radio.  Being where I'm from, that happened to be country.  While I can't say I enjoy country any longer, I can't say I hate it, though it does get on my nerves at times.  During middle school I listened to some rather run-of-the-mill stuff (or crap, whichever you wish to call it): Rob Zombie, Nickelback, AC/DC, some others.  During eighth grade my friend lent me his copy of Opeth's Ghost Reveries and, well... my "love" of the other bands I listened to quickly diminished.  I became enraptured by the album, listening to Ghost Reveries on repeat for hours and hours.  After Opeth, my friend introduced me to other bands: System of a Down, Megadeth, Dragonforce, others.  After that I quickly became obsessed with all ranges of heavier metals, thrash and power and black and death.  After I started going to Jeph's streams I starting listening to more electronic, including Daft Punk and Fuck Buttons.  Music shapes my life, it's very rare that I'm not listening to some thing or another, be it blast-beat-filled black metal or droning dark ambient or chugging death metal.  I can be a snob about it sometimes,

Playing instruments has a longer history for me than listening.  I started playing violin in fifth grade and played up until tenth where I pretty much abandoned the instrument, and almost immediately following that I bought my first real guitar: a red, BC Rich Warlock, platinum series.  Pretty cheap guitar, bought a cheap amp with it.  I've played by ear and learned tabs, but most of the time I just improvise in different tunings to get my coordination and rhythm up.  Haven't actually written a song,  though, since I come to a mental block when I imagine putting one together.  Someday, though, maybe.  I play mostly for fun and relaxation, maybe for a bit of narcissism since I enjoy hearing myself play.

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Re: How'd you start listening to that? (a bloggy thread.)
« Reply #9 on: 28 Feb 2011, 04:28 »

Thanks for sharing, you guys!

Khar, I am kinda jealous that you've been so successful in researching music that you like. This has actually never been the case for me! There's a lot of music that's about things that I find interesting, and when I was younger, I downloaded quite a bit of music because I liked either what it was about or what had been written about it, but I generally ended up not enjoying this stuff all that much. I think a big reason for this is that lyrics factor very little into my experience of listening. It's odd, because I do believe that lyrics can be very important! (And in fact, in writing about music for classes at the moment, I rely quite heavily on lyrics in making my arguments.) I guess my brain just works a little differently, because if there's music going on, it's very, very hard for me to be able to follow lyrics that are sounding at the same time. Actually, even when I watch films in English (my native language), I feel a lot more comfortable with subtitles on, so perhaps it's just an auditory processing thing.

Sometimes you post pretty harshly about popular genres and their listeners, so it's interesting to find out that you tried so hard to learn to like those kinds of musics when you were younger. But I guess it shouldn't be surprising--I mean, strong feelings have to come from somewhere, I imagine.

I actually didn't know anyone who liked the music I do either, believe it or not! It's really only recently that I've started to find people who like even Michael Jackson, for example :-) I guess it just goes to show how idiosyncratic the particular communities that we come from can be. (and uh feel free to make a joke about how lonely I must have been to not know any Jackson fans)
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Re: How'd you start listening to that? (a bloggy thread.)
« Reply #10 on: 28 Feb 2011, 05:58 »

Essentially, my love of music is based on the good luck of having parents who played decent music around the house. Most notably The Beatles, The Stones, The Faces, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Captain Beefheart, Bob Dylan, Talking Heads, The Smiths, The Cure, REM - These bands probably all contributed to my eventual discovery of specific traits in music which I now enjoy in other music. I still like or love all of these artists and I think had I been in a house where music was unappreciated, I'd have eventually been a very different person. My older sister liked lots of hip-hop and pop music, my older brother liked Britpop and the Mod bands they descended from. Although I didn't like many of the artists my siblings listened to, I assume aspects of the music they liked filtered into my brain also. I assume most people had some kind of musical influence from their family but I will say that I was the only one in my immediate family to become what is probably best referred to as a music hobbyist later in life. They all dabbled but I've always been obsessive.

Probably the only American band which me and my older brother both liked was Nirvana, who proved to be the gateway into punk rock and independent music - as I'd imagine they were for many other bands. I loved rock music but the preening nonsense of hair metal and stadium rock was to my mind too diluted to be representative of the adrenaline rush of early rock'n'roll. Nirvana were consciously different because they melded the harmonies of the Beatles with the foot stomping rock music of Led Zep and Sabbath. They talked a lot about their influences outside of the mainstream, which I suppose was the first time I'd really heard of independent music. Through this connection, I heard music by Fugazi and Shellac, both bands who operated on independent record labels and maintained individual control over their music like the cooler bands did from the 60s, 70s and 80s. I thought this was right on and ordered albums by both bands, eventually being inspired enough to write to both bands (remember this was pre-internet dominance). I still have letters I received from a few people who were bastions of the independent music community. Most notably Ian Mackaye (Dischord, Fugazi), Steve Albini (Electrical Audio Studios, Shellac) and Mac McCaughan (Merge Records, Superchunk). The fact that you could write to and get a response from the people whose names I could read off the the artwork of record labels blew my mind and made me start to think differently about music.

I bought basically every record on Dischord and Touch & Go Records, arguably the most influential and important indie labels in North America. After devouring entire discographies by both labels, I move on to other independent record labels and worked backwards into finding out about New Wave and Punk Rock. My friends didn't like the music I listened to and neither did my family but that was okay, I wasn't doing it to be popular. I found solace and empathy within the music, which helped me through some very difficult times growing up. As a teenager I had all the hormonal angst and anger we all have but I felt like I had missed the boat in terms of punk and rock music. I started a joke punk rock band with some friends who liked The Sex Pistols and The Buzzcocks. We rotated instruments and played near enough entirely cover songs, our best trick was to appear out of the audience between bands and use the instruments already onstage. People thought we were okay and sometimes we got better responses than the other bands who rehearsed and wrote songs. Eventually the leader of another band saw me singing Fang's classic 'Money Will Roll Right In' whilst wearing a dress which I'd taken off an inflatable sex doll which had been thrown about in the audience. The leader of the other band was to become my first real girlfriend and she figured that if I was stupid enough to do that at other people's shows in front of a hostile audience, I'd be okay to play in a real band with original material. I was invited to join her band which had been gigging for six months or so and had gained a reasonable following. I was only vaguely aware of such a thing that the American media was now calling Riot Grrl but the next eight months were a crash course to say the least.

Riot Grrl was over and done by the time our band, comprised of me and three women, were playing shows but you wouldn't know it to hear us. We were essentially a carbon copy of Bikini Kill spliced with the incredible British Riot Grrl band Huggy Bear. Our front-woman (also my girlfriend) was an incredible person and she basically taught me everything I didn't know about independent music and feminism already. Specifically she proved to be my formal introduction to Sonic Youth, who are an essential linchpin for most people to become interested in abrasive, feminist-leaning art rock. We played a lot of shows and I met a lot of people involved with independent music in this short period of time before the band disintegrated naturally as we all grew up. I was very ill for a year or so but eventually won through and moved to Brighton, whereupon I helped to publish an independent music magazine which had brief nationwide exposure and acclaim. I met many more people who were involved in the promotion and production of independent music, as well as many artists and writers. This was probably the most satisfying period of my life but sadly I was too immature and frankly, inebriated to realise at the time. Eventually the magazine splintered and I had to go back home with my tail between my legs. My family were unsympathetic and so I enrolled in university so I'd have a place to live. Four years later, I had a degree in media production and no idea what I wanted to do with my life.

I moved to Aberdeen because I was offered a job there. A year later I had bought a house on the extreme outskirts of the city and I still live there now. My interest in music was sustained by joining music based internet forums like this one and crucially the message board of Steve Albini's recording studio Electrical Audio. Eventually the latter became a tight-knit community of disenfranchised punk rockers which has recently reached fruition of sorts with bands, festivals and now even a record label all funded and produced by people within the international group of music dorks. It's a massive source of pride and comfort to me that even with this amount of geographical separation we can all participate in a music scene or sorts and it's been a superb stopgap over the last half decade or so whereby I haven't had any people who share my love for music around me or been able to play music myself. Hopefully I'll continue to maintain these friendships and connections my whole life and eventually I'll be able to participate in making music again in the future once I know where my life is heading. I don't listen to a great deal of new music because I am usually deliberately behind the times by ten to twenty years. I figure that if an artist is still talked about a couple of decades down the line they are probably worth a listen and that's basically how I operate. There's still thousands of records I want and hopefully I'll put a good dent in them in my lifetime.
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Re: How'd you start listening to that? (a bloggy thread.)
« Reply #11 on: 01 Mar 2011, 22:47 »

Story!

I didn't grow up in a musical household, or at least, my parents didn't play instruments and like everything else relating to me they could never stick with encouraging me to play it. I took piano lessons, for which I rarely practiced. So I never really had hands-on experience with making music. Both my parents, however, loved music. They had different tastes - my mom listened to a lot of outlaw country, as well as more traditional country (her favorite song is "He Stopped Loving Her Today" by George Jones) and traditional church music, but she was also a die-hard Prince fan ("When Doves Cry" would play whenever she cleaned). She likes listening to the same songs over and over, which is fine. My dad, on the other hand, was always a pretty huge music geek, though he hardly ever talks about it. It's only recently that I've learned about what he listened to growing up - he was really into Bowie, saw Springsteen in NJ clubs before he hit it big, saw Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. So he'd always been drawn to classic rock, I guess.

It took me awhile to "come into my own" with music, I think. There were always songs that I loved that would thrill me every time they came up on the radio. Two that I distinctly remember were "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)" by Hall & Oates and "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak. I remember sitting in the back of my dad's wool-seated VW hatchback driving through the Southwest, very late at night, on the way from Los Angeles to Loveland, where we live now, listening to Chris Isaak on the radio. That's probably my earliest music memory. I was 4 or 5 at the time, around 1990. This phenomenon of tying memories (good and bad) to music has been a constant in my life. All I remember in the period from '90-93 was "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm", which I will hear no criticism of. It is a perfect song. Oh, also - Automatic for the People, which is a perfect desert driving album.

Around '93 or I grew I started to become obsessed with video games, and I really liked their soundtracks, which didn't sound like anything I had ever heard before. Doom, Quake, Streets of Rage 2, Toejam and Earl. They were propulsive and repetitive, and obviously synthetic, and I enjoyed the way they made me feel. I would often play games just to hear the music. But I didn't really start to seriously become attracted to music until around '96 or so, when I started listening to my dad's music. At the time my dad was going through what I guess you could call an "experimental phase". First came Beck's Loser single, which thrilled me, especially "Fume", with its scandalous use of the word "fuck". Then came Odelay, which is probably the first "good" album I ever latched onto. The Basketball Diaries OST followed soon after that, and while I liked the mood of the soundtrack and the Jim Carroll songs were pretty great, it was clear that I was not a grunge boy. But the turning point, the epoch, was a day I waited outside my dad's hospital office and, bored out of my mind, I found a CD that my dad had in his car and I popped it into my walkman. It was so different - it was like video game music, but it was more real, it was dark and hard and weird, and weirder still the album was 7 tracks long, which was nothing, and consisted almost entirely of variations on one song. That was Underworld's Born Slippy. My dad's electronica phase started and ended with that EP, but in a lot of ways it was the start of everything for me. It was a short jump from there to the Trainspotting Soundtrack, which is perfectly "of its time" and still utterly amazing in the present. I became an Iggy Pop fan almost immediately (as a lot of people did with that soundtrack) but I was also intrigued by the sounds of Brian Eno, Primal Scream, Blur, Leftfield.

Still, it wouldn't be until '97 that I started to break away from rock / pop radio. MTV was the catalyst. I saw Jamiroquai's iconic "Virtual Insanity" video, which was a cool video, but I liked the song more. I would watch MTV and sit through the randomly selected videos waiting, hoping for it to come on. So my parents let me buy Travelling Without Moving. It was my first album. And aside from that bit of unfortunate reggae in the middle, it's a solid dance-pop record.

Anyway, I loved Trainspotting so much that I figured hey - I don't know how to find artists out there to enjoy, soundtracks are essentially compilations of different artists. And they all must be as good as Trainspotting, right? Well, no. '98 and '99 were the years of ill-advised soundtracks - Godzilla for '98, The Matrix and End of Days for '99. I remember nothing about Godzilla except Jay Kay and the gang hammered out a b-side for it on their way to Stateside obscurity (and I think there was a Rage track on there too, which I was a bit put off by, being a kid who combed his curly hair until it stayed straight). The Matrix was marginally better, but I loved it to bits at the time, as it had more of that elusive "electronic" music that I loved so much on it (it also had a few industrial rock tracks which I mostly passed over - that would come in a few years). I also borrowed (and never gave back, natch) Prodigy's Fat of the Land from a friend and it amazed me that someone made a whole album of stuff like that. The worst was End of Days soundtrack, which is notable for having the only original Guns'n'Roses material to exist between Use Your Illusions I & II and Chinese Democracy, and almost tempting me into liking the nu-metal phenomenon that was cresting at the time (it also had a Sonic Youth song). My uptightedness kind of saved me from that one – while I thought “Freak on a Leash” was a good enough song when I heard it, I never dared to ask my parents to shell out for anything like it (understand that I was a kid who heard the name Primus and thought “Oh, they must be a really aggressive metal band”).

That sort of kind of changed when I entered Hell On Earth, or, as it is known in some circles, 8th grade. If you ever wondered “Why did nu metal become so popular?”, you were not in 8th grade in the late 90’s. Granted, I never owned a Korn or Limp Bizkit album, but I did buy Deftones’ White Pony, which a lot of people seem to want to defend, but it was a serviceable angst-sponge album that got so thick and heavy with all the horrid shit I was experiencing that as soon as I left 8th grade, I could no longer listen to it without feeling the echoes of all that terrible feeling.

2001 found me taking my first (very) tentative steps into indie music – I had started watching MTV2 by that time and caught on to the Strokes, and the Hives and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club shortly thereafter. I still love that BRMC debut. MTV (and later, MTV2) were actually big influences for me for a long time. I remember being terribly bored at my grandparents’ house in Tupelo and just watching MTV endlessly, back when they still showed videos. I remember when Ok Computer came out – “Paranoid Android” was played a lot. I found the video to be disturbing. It feels odd to type out, but it was an MTV2 special hosted by Andrew WK that gave me the final kick into my current trajectory, a late night “uncensored” block of “controversial” videos, which notably included (for me anyway) the unedited versions of Aphex Twin’s Windowlicker and Nine Inch Nails’ Closer, both of which I realized I really loved, music-wise.

This was during the rise of P2P sharing networks. So naturally I fired up eMule and tried tracking down Aphex Twin and Nine Inch Nails tracks. It’s easy to become nostalgic for this time period – instead of torrenting or hosting an entire artist’s discography at once, you had to pull from a grab bag of songs, which might be unrepresentative of larger oeuvres, intentionally mislabeled, or poorly transcoded. It took several years of labeling Autumn Acid as an Aphex track, an Autechre track, an Aphex remix of an Autechre track, before I discovered that it was actually a µ-Ziq track. It was exciting time, when new music was doled out piecemeal and you never knew if the next one would be something you loved or hated. It was also around this time that I started investigating artist associations instead of waiting for a music video or soundtrack appearance to give me the initiative. Looking up Aphex Twin, I kept seeing references to Autechre, Boards of Canada, µ-Ziq and Wagon Christ. Looking up Nine Inch Nails, I kept seeing references to Ministry, Coil, and Skinny Puppy. In many cases there were remix albums full of artists worth looking up. P2P was not the best place to look for many of these– their availability was dependent on their popularity, and most had little to none. But I had gained valuable skills in expanding my horizons. I was no longer relegated to TV and radio.

After a few years of this, and a trip to Paris where I bought my first Aphex Twin and Coil albums, I became involved with the internet and internet forums. I got involved with mix exchanges, and while my mixes tended to be same-y in Winter of 2005 or so I received a clutch of mixes that changed my life. They were called “Made in Canada” and “Music You’ll Hate” (I had gotten in arguments over music with the guy), full of mostly Canadian artists (Stars, Memphis, Buck 65, Amy Millan, Raising the Fawn, The Tragically Hip, The Tea Party, Joseph Arthur, Shout Out Out Out, DFA 1979) most of whom I really enjoyed, and for a brief month or two, I shared interests with the wider indie rock world.

This is already too overlong, so I’ll condense the last 5 years or so – At some point I got a USB turntable off of Woot for a steal, realized (via Planet Mu) that there were labels out there that seemed to consistently align with my tastes, and discovered that there were actually online record stores that catered to my specific electronic whims, and all of a sudden there was a metric ton of music every week that I could sift through, free of association or promo pushing or review site hype. And with web hosting being what it is, accumulate massive amounts of it. My knowledge and tastes expanded exponentially. However it became clear at a certain point that I just felt better paying for my music, which has raised a few issues for me, but I don’t regret any of it. At some point I just said “fuck it, I’m in college, this is the time for me to be spending every cent of disposable cash I earn on art that I’m passionate about”. It’s not wise but it makes me very happy. Every day a shipment comes in is a Christmas.

I went from seeking artist I heard on the radio, to seeking artists from soundtracks and comps, to seeking artists associated with ones I already knew, to what I do now, which is take a lot of chances and then take more, until I’ve got a firm grasp on scenes, labels and genres. It’s gotten to the point where there’s actually very little risk involved in seeking out new music, because I know enough about what I like that the presence of certain signifiers or endorsements is enough to endorse music. And the failures are almost always interesting. Currently I’ve decided that in most cases it’s not worth shelling out money for straight dance records – I’ll probably never be a DJ, or a very good one at least, and my collection is already pretty sizable (working through my third crate at present). And there’s so much dubstep and bass and house and techno every week that it’s hard to get excited about sometimes. So lately my tastes have run towards more “avant garde” synth, folk and drone experiments and modern classical stuff. I’ve been spending a lot of time at Mimaroglu lately, a record store specializing in fringe music vinyl and cassettes, run entirely by my favorite avant garde composer, Keith Fullerton Whitman.

So, uh… I think that’s everything.
« Last Edit: 01 Mar 2011, 22:53 by KvP »
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