Issue June 12, 2012

Me Vs. Music

Music again … finally!

A few years ago, The Boy and I hosted a music festival. We spent so much time working that we had little time to enjoy the music. After it was over, the exhaustion was so great that it extended to my ears. I was uninterested in music for a year, at least, and uninterested in new music for longer. If I knew it, could sing it, and it was uncomplicated, then I was happy. I listened to a lot of ’80s and ’90s music.

Lately, however, I’ve been on a path to discover some new artists. Not all of it is technically new, but it’s new to me, and that’s good enough. It began when I heard that Gotye was going to be on “Saturday Night Live.” (By the way, Gotye is often pronounced Got-ya in our home; Mr. De Backer, you can be Goat-ee-ay on your own time.) I hadn’t heard any of his music and assumed that Gotye was either a rapper or some teenybopper.

The Boy, more adventurous than I, looked up Mr. Got-ya and found the “Somebody That I Used to Know” video. The song hooked me immediately. Watching his wide, awkward mouth sing was peculiar. I found him strangely attractive. (Before getting hitched, I had a thing for tall, skinny and awkward.) Talent never hurts, so this was a perfect storm to catch my attention.

Instead of going to my old friend Spotify, I decided to use Pandora so I could hear other music like Gotye and not just listen to him repeatedly. I soon found myself hooked on Aussie dance bands like Empire of the Sun, Miami Horror, and Pnau. I’m not sure how many times I’ve played Empire of the Sun’s “Swordfish Hotkiss Night” video, but I still can’t get enough of that song. It’s brilliant. I also love the tribal, New Romantic look of the band. They are a perfect package of good visuals and great melodies.

These bands and Got-ya have great videos, so I moved on to obsessive YouTube mode. YouTube must monitor my dreams, because it almost always recommends something I find exciting; perhaps I should sleep in a foil hat to keep it out of my head. YouTube is smart in its recommendations. They apparently pay attention to what people are listening to when they choose a specific artist and group like artists into the recommended videos list. I am often skeptical about having music fed to me, but in this case, I allowed myself to be receptive.

The whole Aussie thing led me to discover a great singer called Sia, who’s sort of a geeky Lisa Stansfield, minus the techno. I’ve since left the dancing down under and have found myself drawn to music by more introspective artists like Daughter, The Honey Trees, and more of those “sangin’ ass” British girls, like Jessie J, Birdy, and Paloma Faith.

I’ve also been heavily listening to Canadian artist The Weeknd. In a nutshell, The Weeknd’s music makes you want to be naked with someone, but also forces you to look at the darkest parts of yourself and confront your own moral compass. The lyrics are often corrupt, desperate and on the precipice of danger. It is nihilistic music but so smooth you’ll forget that, at times, he’s offering to drug his girlfriend to coerce her into group sex. It ain’t right, but it is sooo right.

I fully realize that I’ve given you a hefty list of artists to look up and love or hate, but I figure I tell so many stories about how I live with music, it might be helpful if I shared what I’m really listening to now. I’ve been pleasantly surprised and am enjoying the experience of listening to music again.

Life without new music becomes something like an episode of VH1’s “I Love the ’80s” on repeat. The web gives us opportunities to always have new music. The key is to not be a lazy ass. Allow yourself to take chances and discover something that might reinvigorate your existence.

Erica Rucker is a freelance weirdo, writer and professional wedding/portrait photographer at eElaine Photography.