04.10.2014

Been thinking a lot lately about how there is so much music at our fingertips in the internet age. Go into the studio, grab a record, play it. Think about how your friends might like to hear that, so you look on YouTube for the song – find it, and then post it on your FB. Even going back to when I started getting serious about vinyl (around 1996 or so), it was hard to find certain records. Hell, a lot of records, really. If you were buying DJ singles, you had to hope the record store had one. The popular ones sold out fast. Online record buying was just starting out around then (or a bit later, really) and you’d have to hope they took the time to encode clips of the single so you could get an idea what you were buying.

Go back further than that – to the stone ages when I was in high school. I lived in the sticks of North Central Massachusetts, separated from the “metropolis” of Boston and its radio stations by hills that made any station other than the strongest nothing more than tantalizing snippets through the static, no matter my antenna contortions or adornments with tinfoil. One day that sticks in my mind, I heard “Der Komissar” by After the Fire on the radio. I’d heard it before and loved it, so I rushed to hit record on the integrated tape recorder to capture the song so I could figure out what it was and listen to it repeatedly. This was also before the Walkman became readily available and I could only really listen to it holed up in my room. There was no looking on the internet to figure out all the related acts and what that genre was so I could wallow in new music. It was probably the perfect environment with easily distracted, probably ADD me, because I had to concentrate on one thing. It gave me time to examine and absorb things, and make connections to what I already knew. Granted, at that time, all I knew was classic rock and maybe a tiny bit of hip-hop from going to the skating rink (Rapper’s Delight!), but it was something new. I know if I grew up in NYC or LA, it would have been totally different, but to most of the world was stuck like me – having to find the music by accident or through friends. There weren’t many friends who were musically savvy in my neck of the woods.

I remember a friend in the Air Force (late 80s) who was from NYC and gave me Depeche Mode and the Cure to listen to for the first time (Music for the Masses and Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me respectively). It blew my world wide open and led me down the rabbit hole of clubs and electronic music and I’ve learned so much. Hearing that music at that point in my life, it really made me feel like I’d found “my” music. It fit where I was emotionally and was just right for me where all the other stuff I’d listened to felt like my mother’s hand-me-down clothes (which it kind of was).

Today, you can stumble across a song from a decade ago and find a whole subgenre of music that you never knew existed. I’m thinking about all the dance music I’ve been exposed to in my adult life – I see such a wide array of styles as I try desperately to wrestle my vinyl collection into some semblance of order. There’s stuff that I try to categorize and fail. There’s music like 2-step that existed for a brief period of time and nestles into another style (house, with hints of breaks) but is its own unique flavor. Personally, I have a kind of tunnel vision and try not to get too involved in every song and style of music that happens around me – it would be too much and I have to focus a bit to even get by. As things get more fragmented and blown wide open stylistically, I feel like part of what I can do as a DJ is be a curator of music. With so much music available, it’s harder to focus it and find things that you’d like, in a group that you can listen to (YouTube playlists are great for this).

As I mentioned, I’m trying to organize my vinyl these days. It’s going slowly. I wanted to make a mix for a friend who’s a similar age of a bunch of the songs we listened to when we were younger. My husband has never even heard some of the stuff I’m pulling out, because he grew up on Cape Cod in the same time period as me, and he didn’t even get the stations from Boston out there. He went the punk route, and I went the art fag route. Grin It’s been fun to teach my spouse some new musical tricks, as he has taught me more than a few. There’s always new music (and old music) to learn about. Not sure if that’s just too much or that I need to get busy learning more of it. 🙂

Comments

  1. Jason on 09.19.2016

    > remember a friend in the Air Force (late 80s) who was from NYC and gave me Depeche Mode and the Cure to listen to for the first time (Music for the Masses and Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me respectively). It blew my world wide open and led me down the rabbit hole of clubs and electronic music

    I had a very similar experience when I was in the AF in 1989. I was stationed at Keesler AFB for training. I Met a woman who introduced me to Industrial music (NIN, Ministry, Front 242, FLA, Nitzer Ebb, RevCO, etc) and incredible remixes / B-sides of them plus 80s new wave bands I already knew of. The Rabbit hole ran very deep as I stood at it’s edge with eyes the size of saucers. The Mix tapes were the best sales pitch I’ve ever heard in my life. A few 90min cassettes triggered thousands of dollars in CD and concert ticket purchases over the next decade. It completely shaped the music that I listened to from then on. My musical awakening as it were. Thanks for feeding a hungry mind DJ Muse. You have been an amazing musical influence on me.

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