Tag Archives: chillwave

Context for my music

15 Nov

From here.

“and what i studied in college was economics and when i am not reading about music i am mostly reading about the economy, except sometimes i can’t bear to read about it anymore because there is this pervasive sense of hopelessness about it and we are living through a rare occasion in economic history when mainstream economists and wackjob economists are in agreement about America’s economic present and short-term future. Kim Jong-Il’s speeches about North Korea’s wildly prosperous economy sound preposterous and the rest of the world laughs at him because his people are starving, but it’s harder to laugh when are own leaders are making the same speeches and people here are starving (“new york city’s 1.7 million recipients of food stamps”). and so i guess it is intuitive to think that american independent music, made and received in the context of a collapsing economy, is a product of a similar escapism

and there’s a general understanding among economists, and this might be true among scholars in other fields too (about their respective disciplines) but i didn’t study other fields so i don’t know, that history can be accurately understood through an economic lens and almost any mass idea or action can be tied to a parallel circumstance in the economy and there are superficial circumstances that are put forth as explanations for these ideas or actions but if you dig deep enough, or sometimes you don’t even have to dig that deep, there’s an economic motivation to explain anything. wars, art movements, political movements, trends in mass psychology, etc etc etc. there are aesthetic changes that shroud economic changes, you know, “cash rules everything around me”

and sometimes i read Pitchfork reviews for chillwave records or witch house records and think of how often they review a record and use words like “amniotic”, “womblike”, or “womb” to describe it — it’s like pretty much all the time right? five or ten years ago every other twentysomething wasn’t making hazy, woozy, droney, “womblike music”. there was no band called Baths and no crop of hundreds of projects that sound like washed out. but suddenly there are multiple micro-movements that sound like nosedives back into the uterus, “amniotic”, because the world has gotten too hopeless and terrifying to handle. two years ago bands like toro y moi (age 23) and baths (age 21) and the hundreds of other projects that sound like that might have been (or were) on the beach, because two years ago it seemed like the economy might recover soon and the beach was a fun place to wait it out or escape it temporarily. now they’re crawling back into bed or getting into the bath

and missing the idea that chillwave and its siblings are the product of a collapsing economy and the instinct to escape it, and the effect the economy is having on the first generation of kids to have it worse than their parents, kids who graduate prestigious schools and wind up working at the supermarket, kids who have no hope of making a decent living as a musician for very long if at all, is like thinking that citizen kane is a movie about a sled and animal farm is a book about some talking animals. every music writer that has written about chillwave and neglected to understand this just failed the kids who make it. chillwave is an economic phenomenon, and it’s the sound of kids who are long past anger and frustration and defiance

after the japanese economy collapsed in 1991, the country went through what is referred to as “the lost decade” (1991-2000) and the kids who graduated college during that time are known as “the lost generation” because they lived with their parents for an unusually long time before being independent and went through a bunch of other social turmoil associated with chronic unemployment and turned out as semi-functional adults a lot. american economists have been talking about avoiding “the lost decade” since 2008. one of the symptoms of that is “hikikomori” which is a term that refers to “the phenomenon of reclusive people who have chosen to withdraw from social life, often seeking extreme degrees of isolation… from various personal and social factors in their lives.” how many chillwave artists are one-man bedroom projects? like almost all of them right? (dave hawke, ernest greene, chaz bundick, will weisenfeld, alan palomo, tom krell, etc etc etc)

and it’s frustrating that the music press considers the sonic choices of bands like Toro Y Moi and Baths in isolation, because that cheapens their ideas and turns chillwave into an aesthetic fad or a trend or a bandwagon instead of a more psychosocially-rooted movement or a communal reaction, a bunch of kids going through the same thing and reacting the same way. and chillwave (and whatever microgenre How To Dress Well is) is resonant because listeners want to get into baths too, you know?”

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