When people who don’t listen to anything outside of mainstream, top 40, or “non-electronic” hear that I make music and ask what it sounds like, I have a rote answer:
“What do you like to listen to?”
They tell me, and whatever it is (unless it’s some sort of electronic music I can compare it to) I always say:
“It’s the exact opposite of that.”
It’s not that I’m trying to be a dick– I don’t WANT to explain it. I don’t much give a shit if anyone likes my music outside of “my crowd,” and explaining it, frankly, is a lot of friggin’ work to someone who’s main knowledge of anything electronic is what they hear in commercials.
My pal Eric from Everything Goes Cold recently posted a rant on how this scene is self-hating, and it’s pretty friggin’ true, especially from anyone who has been in it a while. Personally, I love it, but I never consider myself a “real” musician anymore than I consider myself a “real” cook or “real” doctor (although I used to try and convince women of that in my younger, more impetuous single days—but the combat boots and Ministry t-shirt never helped close that deal.)
I’ve kinda talked about it before, but when it comes down to it what I and so many others do isn’t MEANT to be mainstream. Sure, MSI, VNV Nation, Combichrist, and The Birthday Massacre are doing pretty damn well, but that’s a sliver of a percentage of the people doing this music. And y’know what? I don’t make music for the mainstream. I don’t WANT to. Why not? Because most of the “mainstream” sucks rancid HOBO BALLS, that’s why.
I like to think a lot of people who listen to this music (and I mean ACTUALLY listen to it, not just getting drunk or tweaked out on Red Bull and vodka at the club on a Friday night) really appreciate it and, more importantly, understand it. I don’t mind the crowds that do just like to listen to a bunch of different artists and consider themselves fans either, but dismissal by mainstream audiences isn’t just a good thing, it’s something I’m actually STRIVING for these days.
Remember that “mainstream” is the reason we’ve had a complete fucking idiot in the White House the last 8 years, and why “Date Movie” and “Superhero Movie” and “Any Larry the Fucking Cable Guy Movie” is made, and why Rascal Flatts and fuckin’ Nickelback sell millions of albums when Hank III and countless REAL bands tour like crazy just to stay afloat.
While not comparing talent levels in the slightest here, I’d rather be a Bukowski than a Grisham. I’d rather be a David Lynch than a Speilberg, and I’d rather piss off a majority of people with my “goddamn noise music” than be accepted blindly because it’s either “just mainstream enough” or “just on the edge of offensive sounding”.
Fuck that. We’re all forced to be middle of the road and compromising enough in our day to day lives that none of us should EVER have to compromise our creative vision, whether that be in making music or knitting sweaters. Do what you NEED to do, not what you think people WANT. There’s a big difference.
The wonderful world of the internet has allowed for an artist to get their name out there and gain a worldwide following big or small with little investment outside of a true creative vision. You don’t need to invest millions or even be signed to a label to get your music out there, so why would you feel you need to compromise? Why would you feel the need to conform what you are for a few more fans? People appreciate truth, which is in extremely short supply these days, and while nobody can work in a vacuum of creative bliss without being somewhat self-concious, you owe it to yourself (and again, I’m not just talking music here) and the audience to try and translate your ideas as clearly or Unclearly as you see fit.
Otherwise you’re just taking a dump on everything you are, and that’s simply wrong.
So fuck it up, fuck the masses, and do your own thing. It may not be anything anyone except you and some drugged out freak in the middle of Russia likes, but you’ve made that connection at least, and that means more than a million useless connections based on lies and compromise.
No artistic endeavors worth anything ever came out of mediocrity or compromise. I’m no Beethoven, but I’d rather keep my idiotic integrity than know I released a bunch of shit that didn’t come from a place of passion.
some cliches are true: the mainstream can eat it.
[Originally blogged 5/27/08]