On the topic of cultural appropriation, exclusivists really confound me. I understand completely that there are words that should never be appropriated into the mainstream lexicon, but it’s when people try to make the case that articles of clothing and music shouldn’t be…
Like I said, I’m only just forming an opinion on the whole thing. I appreciate your input :)
Cultural Appropriation, when Appropriate, is Necessary.
On the topic of cultural appropriation, exclusivists really confound me. I understand completely that there are words that should never be appropriated into the mainstream lexicon, but it’s when people try to make the case that articles of clothing and music shouldn’t be appropriated and rather left to their individual cultures that I have to disagree.
Society doesn’t progress without the inclusion of everyone’s history and the collective respect, understanding, and continuation of that history. For the zeitgeist to modulate and evolve, appropriation has to occur. I realize that it’s a very superficial opinion of the whole thing, but for the evolution of culture there must be an evolution of the pop culture.
My Most Anticipated Albums for the Next Half of 2014
The first six months of 2014 have actually given us some wonderful music in an age where that phrase is as fleeting as possible. New tunes and albums are discovered, loved, cycled through, and discarded at rapid-fire speeds that would make the music fans of yesteryear absolutely cringe. What a relief, then, that this year has heralded great records by Schoolboy Q, Ed Sheeran, Lily Allen, NONONO, Future Islands, Ab-Soul, Magic!, 5 Seconds of Summer (genuinely shocking right?), Michael Jackson, and EMA. Here’s what I’m looking forward to for the next six months — in no particular order.
25 - Adele
Untitled Second Studio Album - Frank Ocean
V - Maroon 5 (only because “Maps” is the best single they’ve put out since 2010’s Hands All Over)
Sparks - Imogen Heap
Innerworld - Electric Youth
Being - Moazrt’s Sister
1000 Forms of Fear - Sia
Get Hurt - The Gaslight Anthem
Untitled Debut Studio Album - Logic
Untitled Third Studio Album - Marina & The Diamonds
Untitled Seventh Studio Album - Kanye West
Goddess - Banks
El Pintor - Interscope
And, in the meantime till I can check those out and start writing reviews again, check out my new album Aquarius
We’re back to rehearsal today for a show on Friday at the LEGENDARY FooBar in East Nashville. If you need something to do Friday, head over at 8. It’s going to be a kick-ass, balls to wall rawk show with Black Diamond Strings, Switchmen!, and Shih Tzu Nami.
For a ‘lil smattering of what you’ll hear, check out my new single “Cool Alright” over here.
"Girls & Boys" is overflowing with joy and longing, and is one of my favorites on Aquarius. What inspired this song?
I actually wrote “Girls & Boys” after going to a gay club in Nashville called Play for the first time. I didn’t exactly like it all that much; I’m really not a fan of clubs. Regardless, the energy and the color of the room inspired the general vibe of the song. What really got me was how beautiful everyone in the room looked in a certain light, regardless of gender, even if only because they were so comfortable in themselves that they became beautiful. I ended up writing the whole thing in about 45 minutes.
SO, as most of you know, three days ago I uploaded a video for my single “Cool Alright” from my new album AQUARIUS. It wasn’t much, but it was a labor of love — something my friends and I spent a pretty good deal of time on. It ended up getting 2,500 views in just two days which, while not extraordinarily impressive, was impressive for us. It was the first sign that a buzz is actually building around AQUARIUS. Without warning, “Cool Alright” was removed from YouTube. According to YouTube, the video violated their Terms of Usage due to the use of view count gaming (i.e., gaining too many views too quickly for it to be a coincidence). YouTube seems to be under the impression that the video only got the views it did because they were payed for, which is absolute rubbish but that’s on me to defend.
They, did, however, so courteously re-upload the video for me. How polite.
I know this is not anyone’s concern other than mine, but with the hoopla this week about YouTube beginning to remove music videos by Independent Artists, it does make me the slightest bit paranoid that this is how the takedown begins: misappropriation of the user terms.
I’m begging you to not only watch the video again, but spread it to everyone. Let’s make this baby go as viral as it can because dammit if I have to be a martyr for independent music I will be. I’m aware how egotistical that sounds, but really try to understand where I’m coming from here: this was the beginning of something actually happening laterally in my career, small or not, and then it was just cancelled out. Wiped clean. It never happened.
On the Topic of My Body and the Representation of the Male Figure in Pop Culture.
I’ve had issues with my weight since I was a kid, and there’s no more needed from the prelude than that alone. After a set of surgeries at age 10 left me with prominent scars on my stomach, I used it as an excuse to swim with a shirt on until that no longer made sense. Once, when I was playing in a punk rock band at 13 I tied two belts around my chest to try to hide my man boobs; sure, they’re not as large as they could be, but that doesn’t discredit their existence. Hell, the album I just put out has a song devoted entirely to the criticism of the zeitgeist for its weight shaming.
At 16, due to being in a grossly unhealthy relationship and finally becoming sick of myself, I lost 60 lbs. over the course of two months. I became a completely different person. I was confident, cocky, hypersexual, spontaneous, and everyone’s favorite jackass. I will admit to being an absolute douche-wad of a human being at the time, but through that I gained friends, I was able to keep a good romantic life afloat, I was creating freely, and — if I do say so myself — my fashion sense was on point. I wouldn’t say that being skinny is a key to happiness by any means, but I will say that losing a shit ton of weight is a great way to give yourself the keys to a properly satisfying social existence. Of course, real beauty and validation come from within, but a superficial world demands a level of superficial satisfaction to be able to dig deeper in the first place.
I maintained my weight until moving to Nashville. Even up until recently my body seemed fine, but after watching footage from my performance last night at 12th & Porter I felt ashamed. I’m not as large as I was at 16 when I started my adventure to becoming thinner, but it was essential for me to see what I’m becoming. This is all a good thing. The problem is that the support group around me doesn’t seem to see my weight as a huge issue; I hear the usual from everybody: “you’re fine the size you are”, “you look good!” “no one even notices”. All of that would rest calmly with me if it had any ounce of truth. I can feel the weight on my body. I’ve been smaller and, now that I’ve seen the other side it’s difficult to acknowledge that I’ve let myself slip. This is entirely my fault, and I’m taking it into my hands. I’m going the extra mile this time and pushing myself to really lose weight. The reason I say this publicly is to invite the necessary criticism to continue to better myself.
Please do not lie to me and say I look “healthy”. Tell me I’m fat, and tell me why you want me to change; be aggressive; make me not want to be in the same room as you until I reach your aesthetic standard. It may sound terrible, but I promise you, you’re doing me a favor. This is not just to fit a standard of “beauty”, this is to get my body under my own control and to be better to myself. It’s nice that we’ve reached a point where shaming of a particular size group is seen as insensitive, but it seems we’ve become so liberal in our trek for harmony that honesty is easily mistaken for insult or prejudice. Yes, you are beautiful as a human, but your health is important if the factors are in place for you to fix it.
The fact of the matter is that I am the biggest person my age that I’m around on a regular basis. I am the unspoken tip of the scale amongst my social group and that frightens me if only because there is no one that looks like me in media. There is no middle man, no “average size” guy. Males are portrayed either as tight-skinned, trim, fashion-forward Adonis’ or Kevin James and Jonah Hill. The only real contemporary male musician with any semblance of a higher BMI is Sam Smith. There is no man shown in the endless in-between who isn’t obese, but also can’t find clothes that fit worth a damn. There is no man shown who isn’t huge, but who’s also afraid to take his shirt off in a public area. I’m not only a scale measurement, I’m also apparently an unseen scale measurement. Culturally ignored. Not even lambasted, just simply nonexistent.
I have no option but to try to lose weight to help myself. So, if you can, please be honest with me. It’s for the best.
I saw The Fault In Our Stars with a friend today and spent a lot of time reflecting on whether it really lived up to the expectations the internet had collectively preset for me. There’s something particularly unsettling in knowing so much about a story due to cultural saturation before seeing it that it doesn’t affect you the way it does everybody else. I realized only after about an hour of discussion following the movie that the reason it didn’t hit me as hard as it should wasn’t because of my exposure to it prematurely, it was because it just wasn’t an effective story.
The prose is beautiful. The editing, the cinematography, the pacing, the acting: all wonderful. Individually, every piece of this film should have connected and created something moving, but they didn’t for one reason: everything is too perfect. I’m not quite sure how dimensional they are on the page, but the film incarnations of Hazel Grace & Augustus Waters are each so heart-meltingly perfect that I was absolutely unable to connect with either of them. I cared, obviously, for their health — but outside of the cancer I already knew about before walking in the theater, I cared little to none about what these perfect, pristine people went through. Not that perfection is bad, it simply makes for an inability to empathize. I wanted to care for these beautifully acted figures, but neither of them seemed fully-formed enough to do so. People have flaws, and that’s why we’re easy to connect with on-screen. Sure, Augustus is a bit pretentious and Hazel is a tad bit cynical, but these are celebrated within the story as deep, poetic traits that I should find endearing.
There was so much that could have been improved by even just cutting 10% of the dialogue. The film is at its strongest when it allows the visual to tell the story alone and gives the audience room to breathe between its biting sardonicism and forced insight. There’s a particularly effective sequence [wherein Hazel spends a week waiting for Gus’ thoughts on a loaned book] told through minimal dialogue, but very precise camera work and spot-on body language and it feels perfect. The anticipation, the claustrophobia, the yearning, they’re all perfectly portrayed. This is the film’s strongest method of storytelling and it could have been used on a much more amplified level to create something truly engulfing.
You see, reader, my problem with this tale of love and loss is not that its bad at all. On the contrary, it is so full of promise that it’s painful to see it fall short of the perfection it aimed for. To see a character so helplessly charming and clean-cut as Gus Waters talk about how deeply he feels and emotion falls flat simply because that’s all he does: talk. Never once do I see him illustrate his feelings. Never once do I believe he feels them at all because I can’t imagine them rebounding amidst the facets of his cavernous psyche.
Art is an interesting thing. It’s not necessarily the perfection of the work nor the pieces of it that make it memorable, but the imperfect sum of the pieces. The veneer of perfection is still incapable of hiding flaws.
I think I’m still figuring that out, but the ride is enjoyable.
I apologize for the rant, it’s been a minute since I got the chance to articulate something. I’ll be blogging much more often again now that Aquarius is out. A new chapter is starting.
“For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.”—Neil deGrasse Tyson - Cosmos (via lifeintrance)