Tom starts off his interview with a little backstory about the foundations of his musical identity. His father equipped him with artists such as Bruce Springsteen, depechmode, and The Police. As a young person, he had a strong source of musical input from his parents, they even made him a Bruce Springsteen costume for Halloween. And even though he fell out of line with these artists as he began to develop his own musical identity, he was always able to refer back to the foundations of his music and learned to appreciate them from a new lens.
Throughout Tom’s interview, he highlights the alternate reality and power behind a performer. Beginning with his adoration for Queen, more specifically - Freddie Mercury, who he describes as “larger than life”. Tom says he would watch videos from the concerts and just bask in the alternate reality of the scene: looking at the waves of crowds, the masses of people all entranced by one man, “commanding the crowd and had them wrapped around his thumb”. For Tom, this was a completely new idea, using music to excite people in a way that he had never seen before. And through this inspiration from Queen, Tom’s devotion to performing artists exploded. Throughout the interview he comments on this characteristic of an artist: someone who can make their musical performance interesting and absolutely awe-inspiring is utterly different than someone who excels in the studio. Tom cites Bryan Wilson from The Beach Boys as an example. And while both artists have a place and bring something extraordinary to the music scene, the experience of watching a person embody their creation through a “life-giving” performance is an adventure that resonates with a deep part of our souls. Tom explores this uncanning moment of live music when he saw The National at the Chicago Pageant. They played a song that had only been played live seven times in their career. And sure enough, The National decided that this would be another one of those unique concerts where they would play this extra song. Upon hearing the first notes, Tom just threw up his hands and screamed. After convincing himself that he would never hear this song live, he was utterly astounded, “Those are the moments you should look for as concert goers”.
Raymond starts his interview explaining two different channels of music: one channel of unconscious music (his parent’s CD collection) and the other with music through education (joining the band in the 4th grade and continuing on until the present). Within these channels, Raymond has gained an appreciation for music that are intertwined within each other. This coexisting relationship is most present in his listening of jazz music. Through his musical career,, he can fully understand the difficulties of improvising in jazz. Through his education in music, he can hear the distinctive points in the ensemble, which are all collectively the experience in the jazz genre. He then makes a good point when critiquing the mainstream genre: there is so much focus on the individual artists and less on the musicians behind the main singers, “piled in behind the figure head”. With this knowledge of the genre, Raymond finds the complexities of music to be utterly entertaining and makes his relationship with music an incredibly proactive one.
His adoration for jazz and classical music continues throughout his interview. With this common theme of education and the unconscious connection with music, he outlines how music interacts with his everyday life. Within his studies, he has a continuous soundtrack of classical music playing. When he chooses to tune into the music, he can pick up the different instruments and other elements that he knows from his experience with band. However, during the times of intense focus, he relies on the unconscious fuel of the music to center in on his work. Therefore, providing a supportive and entertaining relationship with music through the realms of unconscious and the wavelengths of the brain.
In this episode of the Musical Mosaic, Caleigh talks about how her ambitious nature is reflected in the way she interacts with music. Not only is Caleigh KSLU’s general manager, but she also has a weekly radio show called “The Best You Never Heard”. The theme for her show is collecting songs that she, and mostly likely her audience, has not heard before. And so each week, she pushes herself to find new content, which results in an expansion of genres and artists. This push and desire for new music is reflected in her responses when asked about her favorite lyrics. From a song called Each Part, Caleigh describes the theme of the song revolves around this idea about a relationship,“I wanna know each part of you”. She describes the importance of intentional relationships and digging beyond the surface. Her wise words can be applied to her relationships but also the way in which she goes about music.
This inspiration for finding new music started at a young age. In third grade she describes a moment when her father sat her down, amongst his large Classic Rock CD collection and taught Caleigh about the artists she needed to know, as well as the importance of learning about music. The artists that she was introduced to by her father have remained with her until this day. Where her father encouraged her to interact with a wide spread of music, Caleigh talks about how her mother’s influence as a piano player brought about a new platform for interacting with music. The music that she listened to, became her own in the expressive form of piano playing. Placing the influence of both of her parents in her relationship with music; her mother in her hands and her father in her head.
"hip hop just fit into my life"
Throughout his life, Danno has called many different places home. He was constantly moving around and so assimilating became a learned trait. And so where physical spaces were no longer assimilated with being at home, he found feelings of rest and comfort in hip hop. Danno just found something very familiar in hip hop. He outlines this connection when pointing out his favorite lyrics from the first album Anime, “Fingers on the edge of my glass, making it last/Thinking about a girl from Portland, I'm in my past/Got groupies fanning out like Dakota/ But I rather get shy on my sofa”. This Portland born artist perfectly captures the reflective nature of looking back on previous places that he has known as home. While this upbeat song appeals to the nature of hip hop’s catchy nature, this underlying emotional proponent of the song is another place where Danno finds connection
Ever since he listened to “Purple Swag” by ASAP Rocky in seventh grade, he has been hooked. here he describes the content of this song as an ode to marajuana, which as a kid whose only representation of drugs was through the dare program was something entirely new to him. this moment of music was a “paradigm shift”. the content of the music and the style was utterly entrancing to danno. and so music became an influence in his life and the style of the artists were seen as models that he could look up to. The braggadocious nature, as well as the cultural associations of living in the west coast, created a completely complementary genre for Danno. And so coming to college, finding people with similar taste in music and experiencing the music scene of Saint Louis, Danno continues to develop his love for hip hop. the presentation of the music with the artist presents this complex character that is so enticing: a cocky presence that still allows for emotions to be expressed.
tune in for the next episode for more content on people's relationships with music.
Grace's father heavily influenced her taste in music. He is an avid cd collector and grace would use occasionally pick out a few cd's and take a listen,"playing them in my bedroom, looking at my bubble gum pink walls and taking on the persona of the artists. and even though i didn't really understand what the lyrics meant, i felt like i could still emotionally connect with them" With this very distinct recollection, Grace picks out the magic of music. we have the ability to connect to something so complex, without fully being able to comprehend the lyrics or the artist's message. this emotional connection is a strong relationship that lasts throughout our lives and so, in her words, grace outlines the beauty that can be appreciated through all minds - whether fully developed or not. while there is definitely a strong emotional relationship present, grace says her taste in music developed in deeper realms. and while there is an emotional element to music, the complexity of the platform is within his multitude of realms. as she grew older, and especially in higher education, grace has taken on the music's other capacities - specifically in its ability to transcend a human experience. in particular, she tells us how solange's music gave her opportunity for greater empathy and inight into the experiences of a black woman living in america. therefore, outlining the culmination of intellectual opportunities and emotional associations with music.
this hybridization of musical feeling with its meaning is an incredibly insightful reflection on our relationship with music. you cannot have one trait without the other. and so when asked about her favorite lyric, grace answers in light of this hybridized quality in music, "it's hard to isolate a lyric from a song". she describes the intertwining relationships both acknowledging the importance of the other, going along with her definition of music's emotional and intellectual qualities. in order to experience both elements of music, grace has a practice of associating lyrics with her experiences by immersing herself in the music of a moment, she recollects feelings of being in nature and listening to music as the best practice of "experiencing the sensations of the music."
Stef started our interview describing her life filled with music. She describes her father, a man of few words other than cars and rock n’roll, as a huge influence on interweaving music in the everyday: “I can’t really remember a time when music wasn’t in my life”. Throughout our conversation, Stef mentioned this constant musical soundtrack within her life. She is listening to music when she wakes up, when she goes to class, to the gym, hanging out with friends, when she goes to bed. And it is through this continuation of music that she finds herself exploring the effect that so many different styles of music has on her emotional status. In this sense, music becomes a way to incorporate and understand the emotional waves that roll through her days. Stef finds resonance in the lyrics from the Avett brothers which describe the importance of music in our everyday lives, “I wish I was a tune you’d sing in your kitchen, putting your groceries away and washing your dishes.” The actions referenced here are a simple part of one’s day that is such a shared human experience and to be a part of someone’s every day, to be the music in their life is such an overwhelmingly wonderful feeling.
Along with a musical soundtrack assisting her every day movements and motions, Stef also describes the importance of music in understanding thoughts and emotions. This tie of music to our emotional capacity is a phenomenon that is absolutely otherworldly. Stef describes this human tie to music, “emotions that I didn’t know could be put to words, are put to words by music”. this is an experience that she shares not only in understanding her own emotion, but also in connecting with other people. stef gives us an example: when her friend is struggling with something in their life, stef finds music that she thinks helps to map out all that is going on in their head. and through this emotional navigation, will hopefully help her friend find clarity. and through these beautiful associations of music and emotion and people, we can bask in the glory and potential of music as a means for understanding our human experience.
high school: some of the most formative times in our lives. a time when we were all feeling like outsiders, but no one wanted to admit to these feelings of exclusivity. it was during these dark ages of isolation that ashleigh found the inclusivity of punk shows to be absolutely transformative in her understanding of music. ashleigh describes being brought along to wharp tour by her older sister. unbeknownst to ashleigh, this festival would be the beginning of her musical mosaic. before anti-flag started their set, they began with a speech: any one who was being homophobic, or any of the isms would be asked kindly to leave the show. this was at the core of their music. they were a band who accepted all types of people and cared for them as well. being an emo punk kid, ashleigh had really only experiences the sad emotions associated with punk. it wasn't until this experience with anyti-flag that she understood punk music as being an inclusive and understanding genre.
ashleigh goes on to talk about her experiences with inclusivity in the punk scene; specifically the concerts, as live music is the place where the punk scene really comes alive. ashleigh describes the two types of punk shows: one type of punk show where everyone is cool and interested in talking about music and making friends, then the other show where she finds people trying to act cooler than everyone and particularly exclusive. she tells us about a particular show where a man was physically trying to exclude her from being a part of the crowd. this caught the attention of the performers and they stopped their set and kicked the guy out. this was such a unique moment for ashleigh and the connection that she felt with the artist was uncanny. the band members really cared about their connection with the audience and truly lived up to their motto as creating an all-inclusive space.
the power that ashleigh found within the punk plays, continues on and reflects her growth as an individual and in her music taste. where middle school ashleigh steered away from female artists, the realm of inclusivity encouraged her to engage with female singers. this reflected her growth in feminism and engagement with bands that were political in thier messages. this propensity towards the female singer continues on in the present as ashleigh makes sure that each of her college radio shows has a female punk singer. through messages of inclusivity and feminist thought, ashleigh has grown in herself and found spaces that allow for her to fully appreciate the punk scene in a positive and empowering way.
brendan began the interview before we even started recording - as soon as he was in the studio, he was connecting prince with the struggling of high school. his words were so profound, that i needed to stop him and record his story. recounting the troubling times of social isolation, brendan finds inspiration from artists, like prince, who highlight the opportunities the fringes of society have to offer. prince's music helped brendan deal with his own issues of fitting in in high school. in prince's music, we see him dispel any category of music or identity: a phrase brendan coins as "subverting expectations." in analyzing Prince's artistic representations and his musical style, brendan highlights how prince's multiplicity argued against conformity. therefore, creating a space for those who did not fit into the norm. however, in his wise words, brendan reminds us that no one fits into the social norm and there has been a time in every single person's life that they have felt isolated. "i think that everyone goes through that at some point or another...it took me a couple years to realize that." Through not only the musical style of prince, but also his artistic identity, brendan explains how this expression paved a pathway for self-understanding in a period of time when self-doubt was his reality.
in terms of understanding relationships, music is a platform not only for internal understanding, but also connection with others. through his diverse taste in music, brendan finds that he can use taste in music as a means for "finding a common ground with people." his vast taste in music reflects the flexibility of his social scenes, finding comfort in a vast diversity of people. in understanding music as a means for "giv[ing] people emotional meaning to thier lives", brendan encapsulates the emotional and meaningful capacity of this platform. not only in approaching people, but also in enhancing his relationships with immediate people in his life, brendan understands people through music. in describing each relationship in his life, brendan associates a specific genre with each person: his father, his mother, his brother his roommate, "we share___together." after reflecting on each of these musical associations, brendan comes to a realization, "it's wierd, i have an association with almost everyone in my family." through these relationships and music, brendan's taste in music has crossed over a great plethora of genres: from 20's jazz to gothic rock to alternative hip hop, brendan is the music man.
an excited michael gunther entered the kslu studio. he began the interview showing off his pride for his hometown - akron, ohio. he explained how his favorite band, the black keys, comes from the city itself. he grinned with pride as he described the black keys concert that was held in akron ohio, an experience that brought both of his loves to life.s this connection between his identity and the band became wildly important in relation to building his musical identity. although music was always a part of his life, his dad was a big fan of the who and the beatles, this moment of musical independence was solidified in his discovery pursuit of the black keys.
where the black keys fulfilled his identity in terms of his hometown, bob dylan's lyricism shaped michael's understanding of the powerful capabilities within music. with great enthusiasm, michael explains how bob dylan absolutely transcended the genre of folk. michael describes how dylan used his platform to put folk music on the map, dylan's music was "revolutionary in nature"and it is this dedication to exploratory music through meaningful lyrics that michael finds so astounding. there are certain aspects of dylan's music that trickles through all of michael's collection. themes of strong and compelling lyrics are present in all of michael's responses and he makes it clear that influential artists are those who can pair meaning with their lyrics. michael explains how this hard work and dedication to poetry in music can be seen in the artists work, and it is music lover's, like michael, who bring awareness to the beauty within this musical symbolism. Michael tells us the most meaningful bob dylan songs is "with god on our side". by presenting contrasting images of various forms of american exploitation with the repeated phrase, "with god on our side", dylan critiques the concepts fueling manifest destiny. in this in-depth analysis of dylan's song, michael reveals his dedication to the meaning and context of lyrics.
through explaining the importance of lyrics, michael embodies the intentionality of a music listener. the way he talks about music, reminds us of the educational potential in music. in regards to social criticism or even just general life experiences and themes, there are so many ways that music can teach us. however, it takes an intentional listening to uncover the artist's intentions. michael reminds us that meaning behind lyrics is what allows music to take form in our understanding and consciousness.
a spunky gabby pops into the studio, exuding a cheerful energy as we begin our interview. right off the bat she tells me how her taste in music has always been a unique one. in elementary school, she was one of the third-graders that was listening to hardcore heavy metal music. most kids on the playground did not share her admiration for the screamo genre. thankfully, where her peers failed her, she was able to find solidarity in her own home. she was able to share her musical appreciation with her brother. gabby reminisces on memories with her brother - the two of them burning cds, exploring new music, and sharing delight in the lyrics of "system of a down". through this shared taste in music, gabby's relationship with her brother became a lot stronger.
in stark contrast to the intensity of "chop suey!", gabby talks about her transition into the music of the 60's. highlighting stars such as the beatles, janice joplin, and the beach boys. she explains how these artists and the overall genre of 60's music embodies style and themes that connect heavily with her personality. the messages of peace exuding from the raspy voice of janice and the goofy stories of happy times in the psychedelic bumps of the beatles, gaby finds another outlet for her ever-changing personhood. while the styles of music could not be more opposite, gabby reflects on the common theme that has followed throughout her taste in music: the ability to connect to the beat. when it comes down to it, gaby connects most to music that moves her - literally! "i love to dance, i used to hate rap but i've been getting more into it just because i like the beat of it." in all aspects of her music, she finds a connection wither to her desire to physically move or emotionally move.
as of late, gabby describes her music selection as being heavily dictated by mood. while happier moods she associates with dance-oriented rap songs, REFLECTIVE MOODS CAN BE PAIRED WITH THE IMPACTFUL LYRICS OF strong female vocalists: LP and daughter. here gabby reveals the importance of music's ability to harness the emotions of a vulnerable experience. she heavily resonates with the lyrics "you've got a warm heart, you've got a beautiful brain, but it's disintegrating from all the medicine." describing mental illness in this loving and understanding way, gabby tells me of the strength that she found in these lyrics. resituating such an isolating experience, into one that conveys the complexity of mental illness and calling to attention the beautiful human behind all the diagnoses. and in this way, gabby reminds us of the connectedness that music offers: the beat's ability to connect both human kinesics and emotion, all the while bringing about a sense of communal understanding.
stories told by musical enthusiasts !
The Musical Mosaic offers a weekly podcast, playlist and publication based on an interview with Andrea Simms and fellow musical enthusiasts. Here is a place where mere mortals can make sense of this world by discussing our relationship with music.