At the Throne of Mickey’s Judgment
Being a teen idol is certainly in my opinion, possibly the harshest job that a human being could ever hold. Especially if, these idols were bred by the semi-immortal super-empire that is Disney. The harshness of a career as a Disney teen idol will be felt the most when these idols inevitably age into adulthood and begin to mature, as they are supposed to be. During their active careers, the world and their corporate backers will give them the image as if they are on top of the world, and will stay there. When they age, it seems that their audience and their corporate backers slowly and painfully abandon them. These artists have their careers dictated by Disney, thus stifling any bouts of creativity that may pop up, and therefore narrowing what they are capable of as musicians.
Artists are merely merchandise to Disney, and that is why it is up to the artists to fight for their artistic integrity and their own identity. After having their identities forced upon them by Disney during their career, they will find themselves wanting their own as they inevitably age and become exposed to an adult world.
Miley Cyrus, is an excellent example of this, as her current image now was an effort on her own accord. She began to become aware of the music world outside of disney and started becoming.. who she is now: palling with hip-hop artists, starring in provocative videos of her own or of her new friends, basically creating her own image, however frowned upon it may be. By breaking out of the Disney mentality, she gained her individuality. The same goes for other Disney artists such as Selena Gomez or Demi Lovato, as they have become pop stars on their own, within their own image. They have managed to shed the Disney-ness out of themselves and managed to become themselves.
The thing with the recently split up Jonas Brothers, is that what they offer is not something that is wholly looked for by the mainstream. They are, with all due respect, a rock band. In the eyes of the rock world, the music that they make can be described as generic, even descending towards the term, “boyband”, mostly due to their teenage appeal. Rock bands are not accepted by the mainstream industry unless they are able to draw the crowds. The Jonases are of course able to do this, with their catchy songs and magazine friendly faces, but because they have become irrelevant over the years, no one would bother, at least not now. The Jonas Brothers, once at the receiving end of the deafening screams of teen girls and the disdain of elder siblings alike, have now announced their break up as a band, after catapulting to Disney stardom in 2008. It seemed that we who lived within the band’s lifetime witnessed how quickly their rise and how slowly their fall was.
By 2010, the band seemed to lose their relevance in the teeny bopper scene, as well as the music scene itself due to their previous reputation as former-teen idols. Three years later, the band split on the back of disappointing ticket sales and on apathetically received solo careers and renewed musical directions, and eventually “died”. They were, in lack of a better word, replaced by the “next big things”: Justin Bieber emerged in 2009 while One Direction came out in around 2010. Its harder for the Jonas Brothers to be taken seriously as a band due to them being a rock band coupled with their unfortunate history as a former Disney staple. And if they aren’t a rock band, what are they? They certainly dont have the kind of static choreography to lure the public (1D) or the publicity in all the changes they undertake as people and as artists (Bieber). One thing to note is that Bieber or 1D arent Disney-based, but are subjected to the same kind of artistic shackling and therefore are at risk of the same method of death. The problem lies behind their tailored image: the people within the industry who made them who they are. Disney is merely a huge example.
Change is frowned upon, at least by the marketing executives at Disney and also by the teens and tweens that grew up and idolised these stars, at least until they are old enough to realize that change is something that must happen. It has become a disturbing trend amongst the teeny bopper scene that once someone loses their “cuteness” (a.k.a. have reached adulthood, or wanting to) they suddenly lose their relevance and the scene would slowly and painfully abandon them, leaving the artist to fend for themselves in an industry where reputation matters incredibly. It is almost heart-breaking, to see The Jonas Brothers fall from their mountain-high fame to young adult has beens in only the course of 5 years, because with all due respect, they could actually pass off as a credible rock band (and i actually enjoyed some of their songs), if they followed their true instincts. They just had that unfortunate start.
This is why i think the Disney-backed teeny bopper scene is most probably the most judgmental music scene, outside of indie. Kids and teenagers have shorter attention spans than adults and most of them certainly do not consider the merits of appreciating music as it is at least until they start college. Whenever there is something else that excites them, they would abandon whatever was exciting them before. Its the same on how Disney treats its musical artists. The difference is that they are the ones responsible for creating the excitement. When a Disney star ages and starts doing normal adult things and start having a different and more mature lifestyle, they are immediately judged by not only their former audience and their parents but also to the world who knew them as these supposedly innocent human beings, seemingly kept oblivious by the power of Disney’s pop culture. That way, this thought stifles any creativity that the Disney artist may have or may want to implement on their music, because one thing we have to realise is that Jonas songs such as “Burning Up” or “SOS”, or Miley’s “Best of Both Worlds” arent owned by the artists. They are Disney’s and the artists are merely the vessel in which the conglomerate churns out innocence to an innocent audience.
The moral here is that, if you want to become a pop star, do not become a Disney star. Because once you have grown out of their mentality, you will find yourself having to fend for yourself in a world where your reputation as a teeny bopper artist will deter you from being taken seriously. Therefore, it is up to you to reach that stardom, or that level of desired musical creativity.
i’m sorry ma’am
Just like internet hype
Or like the world’s attention
towards a natural disaster
Or a death in the news
Your baby will not live long.
Like a record without a critic
A movie with an empty seat
Or the will of the young
And the humbleness of the old
And the food that we photograph
Or the colours that we pride
And in front of their eyes
Your baby will not live long.
Like another death in the news
Or several deaths in Africa
Or like your own problems
Like a spider weaving its web
Just like the human attention span,
I’m sorry m’aam.
But your baby will not live long.
hold my hand, be my best friend
be the fortress i’ll set to defend
Fuck Your Emotional Bullshit
Emo is back! And it has made quite a tremendous return.
Long thought to be dead ever since third wave (millennial) emo bands started to churn out records upon records of maturing material, encompassing more mature lyrics, mature attitude and musical progression, the music of the heartfelt hardcore kid slowly creeps back into the public conscience in a form where it still retains its rawness and offers listeners an interesting take. The new crop of “emo revival” bands mostly derive their sound from the 90s second-wave emo movement, which comprised of most of the groups from the American Midwest who in turn inspired the scene’s millennial generation of bands. Bands like Dads, The World is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, Pity Sex, Dikembe and Snowing (RIP) emerge into the 2010s becoming torchbearers for the dying movement; shouting their heartfelt lyrics about loneliness, loss, self-loathing, awkward observations and the interestingly mundane, accompanied over a backdrop of simply complex chord progressions and shouting drums, harkening to the emo scene’s quiet 90s prime.
Second Wave Emo (1990s - early 2000s) is long thought to be emo’s “best” period by a lot of purists and non-purists alike simply because some of the movement’s most influential bands and the defining sound came from that era. Whilst the definition of emo at the first decade of the millennium was more of a condescending term placed by society to brand the music that skinny, eye liner wearing, wrist cutting, crying kids listen to, the bands that accompanied the lives of these poor kids got their lyrical and musical influence from their less theatrical predecessors in the 90s. In a way it was a “truer” form. Most bands in that era (Sunny Day Real Estate, The Get Up Kids, Cap’n Jazz, American Football, Mineral, Hey Mercedes, Braid, etc) each formed their own unique sound and as a result, the genre-bashing hipster of the new millennium would not be embarrassed to admit to liking these bands due to their musical similarities with current indie bands who more or less sound not much different. It is only natural that the 2010s emo revival draws upon the lyrical and musical aesthetic of bands from the Second Wave era, because this era is what defined the essence of emo: lonely kids (guys) singing/shouting about what is literally in front of their eyes in not-so-dramatic fashion amid each their own self-constructed sound notably consisting of math rock-laced guitar riffs and dissonant lyrical subjects.
A prime example of a defining Second Wave Emo band who possessed their own unique sound would be Seattle band Sunny Day Real Estate released a total of 4 albums in the 1990s, each with its own unique sound, while seemingly staying true to how they approached their composition. For me, Sunny Day started, grew up and left with their experimentalist tendencies and diverged upon their sound in different forms in their four albums: making up non-existent words, dissonant chords in pop-structured songs, perfectly alternating between shouting and singing per few seconds and having each track on a record sound seemingly different from one another, was part of the band’s musical aesthetic.
This is what i hear from the new crop of the 2010 emo revival bands so far: each incorporating their expansive musical influences in a way that they have created their own sound and staying honest in the process. And that, in my opinion, is what would guarantee their longevity in not just emo, but in the scope of music as well. Third wave bands (such as My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, Brand New, etc.) were more theatrical in their music and in their lyrics and to me, they more embodied the archetypal personal image of emo that started the movement in the first place: hardcore kids who were not afraid to cry and show their heartfelt emotions. I’m not saying that because of this, their music is less honest than their predecessors, but that guiding aesthetic unfortunately homogenized their sound and as a result, bands in that era would have to really work hard to show that they weren’t merely copies of their peers in the scene.
Brand New, for one, seemed to become aware of this danger and went on their own direction, resulting in stand-out records that were not like any other within their scene. The unfortunate thing about Brand New is that even though in my opinion they had a different artistic approach towards their music than most of their peers, they were still lumped as part of a much maligned scene where “everyone sounds the same”. It was kind of like the Deftones and their association with the nu-metal era in the late 90s: they emerged at the same time, with a similar sound albeit a different approach, therefore the listening public would tend to associate the scene with the band, thus leaving little room for the mainstream public’s imagination toward the band’s sound. Deftones proved their difference by working hard to establish their own sound, and so did Brand New, but the problem with Brand New was that they have yet to “break out” of the scene the same way that Deftones did from theirs. They instead have been unfortunately reduced to playing nostalgia tours, which is kind of sad for a band of their caliber.
This is why i am excited for the new crop of emo revival bands: they emerged in a world where their underlying aesthetic has already been either ignored or dismissed with each their own sound, deriving influences and the philosophies of emo’s best and most memorable and staying true to that. The best thing about it is that each band i have heard so far stands out, artistically in their own way. If this continues, Emo will no longer be a derogatory term and will ultimately be embraced, at least in independent scenes, as something unique, and in a way, new.
Jakpost HW1: WEAK ENDS
Weekends, for me, for the past few months or so did not mean as much as they do now. Living in the state of unemployment for 4 to 5 months meant that practically every day was a weekend, and therefore i had a diminishing sense of what day it was, draining the true appreciation away from the glorious Saturdays and Sundays. Now, employed (basically), i return to a cyclical state of productivity and exhaustion, one that i have not experienced fully since the end of high school: the 5 day workday. In the university days, i longed for the weekends to cap off a hard week’s work, but during those days, i had complete, flexible control of when and why i get up in the morning. Once you’re properly employed, you no longer have that luxury because you don’t completely decide how busy you will be. Alas, i now have a renewed appreciation for the weekends as something to actually look forward to with all my heart.
So what were my activities during the end of this week? Mostly sleep, which is an incredibly boring answer. I usually use this time to catch up with mates and such, who are also resting their butts for the week.
Saturday started out right on the dot, as technically the Friday workday hadn’t finished yet. Me and a group of workmates from my reporter’s training class and some other departments embarked on a tour of the newspaper factory, basically observing how the newspapers get made, what machines they use, what philosophies they follow and where do they begin and where do they end. the newspapers were carried though machines, in a way that it looked almost hypnotic. After the factory, a needed stop at McDonalds and the distribution point deep within the Jakartan urban jungle, sleep welcomed me with open arms as i swam beneath the sheets of my bed and willfully drowned, until i resurfaced again 7 hours later.
The plan for the rest of Saturday was to just meet up with 4 of my other mates and just chill at one of their houses, and maybe squeezing in an hour in a music rehearsal studio or two, for productivity purposes. In the end, the latter did not happen for when we spent quite a long time discussing our opinions on the merits and the flaws of certain music records (this time it was focused around an album by Canadian band Arcade Fire, entitled Reflektor), over a few bottles of accessible beer in an empty, cavernous house in the middle of Lebak Bulus. The room was dominated with laughter and the presence of random musical instruments and empty canvases.
DIDGERIDOOS AND DIDGERIDON’TS canvases, paint and other weird things.
Typical sundays are usually spent indoors and unproductive, and that is exactly what was done. After a visit to the grandmother’s house for a visit and a (surprisingly quick and uneventful) family engagement party, it was back to the house, to spend the remaining hours charging (all) my batteries in preparation for the week ahead. As the sun goes down, it is now just me and the hypnotic electronic music of my good buddy SBTRKT to end the week.
At this point in one’s life, if there were to be empty spaces of time appearing before you, squeeze the most out of it.
Lou Reed: Freedom is Destroying Your Ears
The recent passing of Lou Reed has moved me significantly. Not only because i felt that the music world had lost a maverick, but also because Reed was one of the artists that i felt was truest to himself in terms of what he created musically and how he philosophically approached his art.
Back when he was still leading The Velvet Underground in the late 60s, he and his merry band of experimentalists were among the first to truly push the limits of what rock music can achieve. The result was four incredible albums under his helm, which would eventually inspire several generations of artists and fulfill the lives of millions of listeners. Reed touched on topics that were considered too “radical” for mainstream music in the 1960s, an era of which the ideals of the mainstream itself is considered too radical for today’s mainstream, in his lyrics: peculiar sexual practices, his (open) discussion of drugs and basically the debauched activities and observations within the New York life at the time. Sonically, The Velvet Underground transcended a varying degree of styles, thanks to their unique musical arrangement (electric violin, ostrich guitar tuning, drums without cymbals) combining their vast range of musical influences into one, thus creating a whole different sound, which was relatively unheard of from other musical groups during the band’s existence. Existing within the bright summer of love, the VU exhibited darkness and debauchery through their dark subject matter and their utilization of noise and feedback as musical context.
As a result, the sound that the VU created sounded “free”, and in my opinion, freer than any other sound i have heard from that era (with the possible exception of The Piper at the Gates of Dawn), and this came in an era where “love and freedom” was openly celebrated as a mainstream lifestyle. The VU’s music may have had no message and may not be as socially relevant as their experimental English contemporaries The Beatles, for one, but what it had was a message of freedom. Personal freedom to release the self completely when creating (what one perceives as) art.
The buzzing drones of Cale’s violin and Reed’s alternated guitar tunings and stream-of-consciousness playing is what brought me to the Velvet Underground’s music and i was particularly fascinated by how Reed approached how he played his instrument. He would strum for minutes on end the first things that came to his mind, and would manipulate accordingly until it became “his” sound. This is most evident in one of VU’s more grandiose songs, “Sister Ray”, off of their White Light/White Heat album, a grand 17-minute stream-of-consciousness noise jam which reportedly prompted the recording engineer to leave the room due to its spontaneous and dragging nature. Reed basically let whatever what was in his mind flow naturally, and through that, he managed to create the most honest-sounding music i have ever heard.
The band would prove to play down the experimentalism for a more mellow and folk-ish sound for their last two (okay, three) albums after White Light/White Heat, possibly spurred by the departure of violinist and composer John Cale and Reed’s interest to incorporate more conventional folk music influences into his music. When he eventually left VU in 1970, he continued to experiment with his sound and began to collaborate with other rising artists that shared his artistic vision, notably David Bowie, culminating in such releases as the Bowie-influenced Transformer (1972), Berlin (1973), Coney Island Baby (1975), and in what could stand to be the most polarizing record to have ever been released, noise music’s blueprint Metal Machine Music (1975). Through these records as an example, Reed managed to create a sound and image which was truly his own, and the underlying theme of it all is basically being incredibly true to yourself, in terms of what comes out from your head and what exists in your mind. Even in his equally-polarizing collaboration with Metallica in 2011, Lulu, Reed still stayed true to this genuine mindset. If Reed is the “king” of drone, then Lulu proved that he (still) was. Whether it was the sonically mesmerizing Metal Machine Music or the.. um, inaccessible Lulu, Reed still operated on the exact same philosophy that he had even when he was still in the VU: if this is what you create then so be it. Even if it presented him somewhat as incredibly self-indulgent. What is bad about self-indulgence when it comes to art, as long as its what you create?
Records such as White Light/White Heat, and Metal Machine Music encouraged the weird artists to stay weird, because if an artist is not being true to themselves in what they create, then what they create will simply become merely a shell of who and what they really are. In other words, Reed indirectly encouraged future artists to not lose touch of themselves, even if they are told to do so. This can be apparent not only in music, but also in visual or performance arts. What he advocated was eliminating the fear of being oneself.
In a personal review of Kanye West’s slightly VU-ish 2013 record Yeezus, Reed said that he ”have never thought of music as a challenge — you always figure, the audience is at least as smart as you are. You do this because you like it, you think what you’re making is beautiful. And if you think it’s beautiful, maybe they’ll think it’s beautiful. When I did Metal Machine Music, New York Times critic John Rockwell said, “This is really challenging.” I never thought of it like that. I thought of it like, “Wow, if you like guitars, this is pure guitar, from beginning to end, in all its variations. And you’re not stuck to one beat.” That’s what I thought. Not, “I’m going to challenge you to listen to something I made." As someone who loves to take things as they come or as they flow naturally out of the mind in terms of musical output, Reed’s words resonated deeply within my psyche, to stay true to the music i create and what comes out of my head, even if it is the most weirdest sounding shit.
The truest form of art is what naturally flows out from you. Without Reed, there would be no noise rock, or even drone. The independent music world, and the entire noise movement has him to thank for laying the roots and championing the sonic destruction of ears for generations to come. Thank you Lou, we shall continue to destroy.
Frictional guitar wizard
mural image of noise
sad sack amplifier
rock and roll
lord of the avant garde jam
consequence of 1960s pop music
Farewell to Noise.
Hypocrisy can never be cured if those who practice it are unaware of their own mistakes.
HERE WE GO MAGIC
DE LA SOUL
LES SAVY FAV
THE STARTING LINE
THIRD EYE BLIND
THE ROCKET SUMMER
AS TALL AS LIONS
THE MARS VOLTA
BRIGHT EYES (2x)
TV ON THE RADIO
THE FLAMING LIPS
THE FAMILY STONE
THE GASLAMP KILLER
EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY
SAVES THE DAY
SYSTEM OF A DOWN
ANGELS AND AIRWAVES
THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN
THE GASLAMP KILLER
THEE OH SEES
GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR
MY BLOODY VALENTINE
ONEOHTRIX POINT NEVER
Major Musical Moments, Mostly in Melbourne 2010-2013.
One more month to go, why not go for the final moments?
making peace and leaving
I guess, i am starting to make peace with this city.
All the years i lived outside of Jakarta, i lived in what the media now calls “the most livable city in the world”, which was, and currently is, Melbourne, Australia. I agree 100% with the distinction. Melbourne is an incredible city, an encouraging environment where ideas and innovations come to life right in front of our eyes, as well as having a strong sense of community along with it. Great environments breed great minds, and ultimately the best city in the world is home to some of the best people i have ever met, talked to, and have the utmost privilege to call my friends. The thought of leaving it for good and not coming back in a long while always fills my gut with avalanches of jagged, sedimentary stones.
The hardest thing i have to face if i leave is that i would have to leave behind all the people i have come to know and love so dearly. Some of them would still have to remain in Melbourne for one or two more years, others only have a few months left. But i am here, the underlying purpose of me living and being there itself has come to pass. I have graduated from my studies, from a respectable academic institution, and now it is time for me to face the spinning reality of the workforce. A reality of which we are violently judged and we have to judge back in order to survive. It is a reality where the obstacles of a paranoid world becomes clear. Government decisions and bureaucratic problems seep into our lives slowly, making a slow and painful impact on our lives, forcing us to hastily choose our life paths even if we are unsure of what we will become, yet. When one does not know where their life is going to head after university, they are again, violently judged by the very variables that we have to please in order to survive in this world.
My father has always tried to emphasize to me the fact that Melbourne is now part of my past and i should not look back and instead look forward, and only forward. Right now, moving forward is all i can do, whether i want to or not, and by doing so, i can feel that my mindset towards my eventual fate of working in Jakarta has changed, somehow for the better. But that doesnt mean that i should forget my past, as my dad once suggested. It means that i should take the past and implement it towards my present and my future. The past is like a different country, they do things differently there. In order to survive in the future, one must think like the future. This has become incredibly apparent in my world today.
Because i no longer live in the “best city in the world”, i don’t have the need nor the want to complain about Jakarta’s flaws as a city, because when you compare Jakarta with Melbourne, its like comparing an apple with a fucking piece of wood: so different to the point where comparing the two almost seems pointless. By doing so, i began to re-embrace the city’s flaws and gradually re-learned the different ways of surviving in this dangerous metropolis. Melbourne is the best city in the world for a reason: its a safe, accessible and friendly city on the surface, and intelligence or trust isn’t really hard to find in its strangers. Knowing how to survive in Melbourne is easier.
Jakarta is neither of these things. To find these positive aspects in Jakarta, one must really search for them, and usually its quite the effort to really find it. To know how to deal with all the different types of people in Jakarta is a valuable skill, almost like a necessity for survival in this world, because if you can handle Jakarta, you can handle anything. Sometimes, we may find that some of these aspects do not exist, but we have to learn to cope with that. With that said, i have started to make peace with this city and therefore my stay here this time feels more pleasant than times before, when i still had a legitimate purpose of living in Melbourne. In a way, i guess you can say that i have accepted my fate. And by accepting one’s fate, one has to learn to adjust to their fate accordingly in order to ensure the best life one can live in a world of chaos.
I am currently waiting on a job that i feel positive that i may get, and with that comes the positives and negatives. The positives are that by November, i would already be formally employed in an organization that i dreamed of working for, starting at the bottom, in a notoriously harsh and cautious profession which i actually want to do. The negatives is that i am due to fly back to Melbourne in a bout a week’s time, hopefully, and that would give me limited time to properly say goodbye to my friends and family there, as well as the pains of packing up. Right now as i write this, i may sound like i am ready to move on, but when i see the faces of my friends when they ultimately bid farewell, the weight of the world, and then some, will come down and crush me from above, leaving me in microscopic pieces. But in their eyes, i know that i can find their sense of happiness for my future success, even though it will pain them, and pain me, to leave behind a part of their lives which they have come to love. I feel the same.
That is why i may only have one more month in Melbourne. Maybe even less. It is a painful truth that has kept me up for nights in a row for the past few days. I am due to fly back in a week’s time, and this trip may be my last for awhile.
But with what lies ahead for my future, i am on the potential track of becoming a journalist, something that i hope will be fulfilling. What i should focus on now is moving forward with the blessing and love of all of my loved ones. Losing a huge part of your life is painful at first, but as time goes on, youll realize that that huge part will never go away. It will stay in your heart, and it will stay in theirs. Tears and sadness lasts shorter than happiness and satisfaction. And i will do them proud by living a happy life, with them on my shoulders, knowing that if anything arises, they will be there for me and i will be there for them. Eventually, they will unfortunately face this same problem but will find their own successes in their own way.
This realization and these bouts of deep thinking has helped me ease my anxieties on the future, and has made me make my peace with the flaws and the harshness of the city of Jakarta. There is no use in whining anymore, for the better life you once lived. Showing strength in your ability to survive in a dangerous world is what is needed to be done in order to achieve that happy life. Your loved ones will always be there for you, no matter how physically far they are.
Such is the flow of time, the realities of a fresh graduate. The realities seem much softer if you have people who will cushion you whenever you will fall. With that in mind, and with realizations becoming your survival instincts, one is able to live in any form of chaos.