What things feel like.
I’m pissed off about the press. Not the news press - I gave up on that scaremongering nonsense years ago - the music press. I rarely read it these days, but as a musician I’m forced to engage with it all the time.
Little Fish is working on the second album, so we’re going to be releasing things soon. And when you release something you have to do the press thing. You have to find the angle. What will make the press write about you? The usual options (Triumph Over Childhood Adversity, Mental Illness And/Or Drug Addiction and Sleeping With Celebrities) won’t really work for us. Eventually we’ll find a catchy way of telling our story and when we do, we’ll hopefully be lucky enough to get some reviews.
I’ve been thinking about this recently too. The obsession with angle, which is different from story, you know? I studied politics at (an American) university, so I basically studied spin. I had one class where we would do practice press conferences. We would field questions from our peers about a made-up thing. We would stop sometimes to consider: what’s the angle here? They call it narrative, story, but it’s not deep like story. “When I think about it, all the music I’ve ever loved is by people I know, either as a friend or a fan,” Ben writes. And that means something. These days a lot of what I listen to, too - maybe 75% of it - is music that’s been made by people I know (including Ben and Miriam). And maybe that’s because I happen to know a lot of talented people (which I think I do) but I think really it’s because of the shared history (however tenuous it might be - in some cases very tenuous indeed). The real story (not the angle, not the spin) is in the overlap between your life and their music.
I didn’t believe in this before I moved to Oxford, by the way. I had sort of given up going to see live bands. I knew a lot of people in high school and at university who looked at music as something exclusive, which is the opposite of what it is to me. And it was exhausting to try to keep up with what was cool (but, in true hipster tradition, not too cool!) and to stand in big crowded rooms in Cambridge and Somerville sweating next to girls with legwarmers (they had a brief and weird resurgence around the time I started college) and boys with striped polo shirts and sweatbands (maybe it was just a particularly sporty period for wannabe-indie fashion). Music became sterile, a little competitive. But then I moved to Oxford and started listening to people I knew (or sort of knew, or who knew people I knew) sing and play guitars and hit drums and stamp on loop pedals. And that changed things.
I guess maybe what I’m saying is that there’s music that you listen to and then there’s music that you interact with, in whatever way happens to work for you: you interact with it emotionally maybe, you contribute to or become part of its ongoing narrative.
The problems always start when we have to deal with The Industry.
These things will make your songs more likely to be played on the radio. This money will make sure you don’t miss an opportunity, but it won’t guarantee it. This gig will increase your profile within the perceived record-buying…
He smiled, “Why, you will go home and then you will find that home is not home any more. Then you will really be in trouble. As long as you stay here, you can always think: One day I will go home.” He played with my thumb and grinned. “N’est-ce pas?”
“Beautiful logic,” I said. “You mean I have a home to go to as long as I don’t go there?”
He laughed. “Well, isn’t it true? You don’t have a home until you leave it and then, when you have left it, you never go back.”
“I seem,” I said, “to have heard this song before.”
“Ah, yes,” said Giovanni, “and you will certainly hear it again. It is one of those songs that somebody, somewhere, will always be singing.”
I always wanted to learn to sail, but only because boats are so pretty.