The other day I was thinking about musical influences and what makes me so attracted to them. While I was thinking about this, listening to my digital music library on shuffle, a song by Kate Bush came on, and it then struck me! Though I came across Kate Bush sometime around mid 2002 (Yes I know I was a late bloomer!), I realized how her musical talent, creativity, and continuous determination to challenge mainstream sounds in music, greatly influenced what sounds I am now currently attracted to.
“But why Kate Bush?” some may ask, well for one, she is a sound that many people don’t really hear, let alone lyrics and songs that are sometimes obscure, yet fall so easily on the ears. Her hymns, as I like to call them have a rhythm and tone to them that put me in a trance, something that is a little more subliminal, but taking me to a place that many musicians cannot take me to.
I believe music is presented to us as an auditory expression through words and sounds. Some of us get it, some of us don’t, which is fine, but for me, lyrics have never really been a huge strong point, verses the intent and emotion behind the vocals and sound. You can tell when someone is into it but also when it resonates something within us. I’m not telling you how you should listen to music, but maybe a way that pop cultures music doesn’t necessarily do for us.
Pop music has become a consumerist experience, take it in and enjoy for the moment it exists, and the dump away after it’s finished. If you think about it, how many pop songs do you remember from last year? I constantly look over the Billboard Hot 100 charts from year to year, barely remembering songs from that year that were big hits, only to see them become “One Hit Wonders” later on. Artists now strive to have hit singles rather than a great selling album. Very few seem to achieve this, and I want to particularly focus on female singers within our culture. It’s given many female artists have hit singles, but never have a well selling albums. Yes there are some (Adele, Lady Gaga etc), but not many that I can remember. I think one current artist that seems to stick in my head is Florence + The Machine, and her well selling album Lungs has been on the Billboard 200 for over a year, yet many only know of one or two of her songs.
The lack and interest to explore an album has brought some upset to me, but I digress! I want to bring it back to Kate Bush, and how you can scan all her albums and listen to the whole album in it’s full entirety. But as well, her albums have not sold well anywhere (I’m talking doing diamond, or that level of status), yet many people I know, all agree and enjoy her work. With that, I’d like to spread some more of my love of her to everyone. Her influence on the music industry has been HUGE. There is even a freakin’ documentary on her!
There are many other musicians out there who have produced sounds similar to hers, taking on this persona of free spirit, producing sounds that are anti-pop culture, which have a form of experimentation and fluidity to their sounds. I think the biggest artist that I’d first off mention would be Bat For Lashes. She has been around for a while, and though her voice and production of her music is different, there is an abstract yet omniscient vibe to her sounds and inspirations. She as well has produced a documentary on her works, which goes through the mind of what I’d like to call “creative genius” in their works. Both mystical and purely subconscious, I’d say that Natasha Khan creates her music out of her pure center, her genuine form of what we are as humans. We tend to push our true selves so far behind what we are projected to be. Ironically I state all of this because the other day I took a psychology test, so see what others perceive me to be, verses what I perceive myself to be. I’m still awaiting the results, but it was funny to check off more things that others have thought I was, rather than how I see myself. Again side tracked, but I’d like to say that the essence of “what is Bat for Lashes” is one of these purest forms.
There are other lists of many artists, but I feel many seem to go unknown in the realm of pop culture, but Ladyhawke would but another example. Living with Asperger syndrome, I believe this has allowed her to focus on her music, in almost an obsessive way, being detailed oriented and concentrating on the sounds and lyrics of her work. Another artist who I’d like to mention would be Niki & The Dove, hailing from Sweden (I always seem to gravitate to musicians from here), producing an Electro pop sound, but with strong undertones of Kate’s influence on her work. It seems the sounds that I enjoy all seem to be Non-American, maybe it’s because their cultures seem to thrive or strive in a way to have a more authentic and laid back lifestyle, or maybe they just have more funding in the arts. Either way, we are still given a touch and influence from Kate Bush, passed down to these individuals here.
So what to do with this rant that I present to you, well, I would say, step out of your boundaries for once, listen, and maybe take something with you, but also, maybe we should all try to be ourselves more, and be less guarded. Maybe me being a “gay” man has allowed for me to challenged this concepts of norm, opening up my own perceptions of the world being able to be honest and trust to myself. I leave you with a video I made while in Berlin, looking at myself, and my insecurities with living abroad for an extended play, and yes, it’s me and Kate Bush, what I’d like to call, together as one.