Somewhere between sleeping all day and being more active than ever, like the weather, it feels weird not having a daily routine anymore, it makes me feel lost and useless. It makes me think I will never be able to properly be free, simply because I don’t know what to do with myself anymore. All I can do is distract myself. I have no hobbies and ambitions, I’m just there, yet I’m enjoying the freedom of not having to do anything. Who cares anyway? It’s summer but I don’t feel like jumping around in the sun listening to reggae music. I started to like the rain, watching thunderstorms from a window by the river. Biking home at five in the morning in the heaviest rain ever, being absolutely soaked to a point where I simply stop caring. Getting home to a cold bath and staying underwater for hours. Things like that.
I must admit I almost forgot about this since it feels like ages ago but one night in March I went out to a party and met some friends of friends who invited me to a video shoot. The conversation went something like this: “It’s for some guy, apparently he’s famous, but no clue who he is, wait, I’m gonna ask…” - ”You know Calvin Harris?” – “Dude, what?!” I really liked his first record before he became the new David Guetta, I remember seing him in a tiny venue in Groningen years ago and God knows why he decided to go for this cheesy stadium house music.
The video It was filmed in the early afternoon in a basement bar, we didn’t know what to expect but soon we all had drinks in our hands, a band was playing and all we had to do is act natural: dance, jump around , sit in a corner and drink. It was pretty surreal but fun. You can’t really see me in the video, though, maybe for one millisecond somewhere in the back, I’m not quite sure, but you might recognise some other familiar faces and places of the city.
Like most people, I grew up listening to a lot of new, contemporary music. I was maybe fourteen, the bands I listened to were probably in their twenties and made music influenced by what they used to listen to: eighties and nineties rock, punk and britpop. With a bit of a fresh attitude added to that it became the music that meant so much to me at the time. I went to countless gigs and discovered new music via MySpace. I used to be the one liking things before they were hyped, I was a young music snob before the word “hipster” existed and now I usually miss the hype and catch up on it half a year later.
There’s dubstep for instance which I completely missed out on for some reason. Former emo heroes with sidecuts and MacBooks “dropping the bass” in front of thousands and and young boys in skinny jeans with wool hats making hip hop catchy, fashionable and most of all, socially exceptable for the alternative young crowd. The new upcoming and hyped artists nowadays are my age or even younger, like me they grew up with the internet, they probably never bought vinyls either and some of them have probably forgotten what it feels like to pay for music.
I never thought about this too much until recently when I listened to a German hip hop song sampling a huge part of “Banquet” by Bloc Party and started asking myself why on earth I found it a bit disturbing to listen to. Because it was the first time I realised how time flies? Because I realised that if I made music, things like this would be my influence, too? Because that regardless of the genre, there’s almost something like a new generation of bands out there who I can relate to in a weird way because we were influenced by the same things? Instead of just looking up to somebody?
I’ve had a very interesting experience the other day when my friend sent me a link to a song by a band I had known for a long time who had just released their new single. Available for 99 cents on Bandcamp. Of course I instantly bought it, paid with PayPal and the whole process took me less than two seconds. I had the song as an mp3 file in decent quality, plus I had supported a band I care about through a platform that’s not ripping them off. 99 cents, that’s a cheeseburger or a litre of my beer of choice, a tiny amount I’d spend on anything without even thinking about it. So why would it be different when it comes to music?
Go ahead and judge me but it was one of the first times in my life I had actually bought an mp3 online. And as cheesy as it may sound, it made me realise I do have the money and I’m willing to pay it. Preferably for a service, for the access to it whenever and wherever I want and not only a product (which has been discussed a lot in the past and I couldn’t agree more). I’m not a malicious music pirate and I’m sure most people who have ever downloaded music illegally are not the evil bastards that the media and certain politicians make them out to be. And that’s probably not a secret either.
Most upcoming bands don’t make their money from the few per cent they get off the iTunes Store but from shows, merchandise and other deals. And there’s our young and hyped musicians again who may not have sold a single record yet but already count a few hundred thousand fans on Facebook and sell out any show they play. There’s so many enthusiastic people out there and a bunch of young artists and their very smart mentors who haven’t just grumpily adapted to the music industry crisis trying to squeeze money out of it under the guise of copyright laws. They simply grew into it like their potential audience did.
We don’t need to change the way we see music, that’s bullshit – because we already have, whether we want it or not. As much as I enjoy listening to The Libertines, drinking gin in teacups and dreaming about the faith in love in music which we’re eventually all going to lose, I’m excited to see what’s next. And I want to be a part of it again.