I’ve just walked out of the theatre after having seen We Will Rock You. It’s my favourite musical, but a lot has changed in my life since I last saw it. I’ve started pursuing music, and what started as an interest has become an obsession. Because of this, I also listen to a broader spectrum of music than I even knew existed when I first saw the show – and I, like the Bohemians, used to be of the opinion that electronic music was trash and the only real music was made of bass, guitar, drums, and vocals. I wasn’t having any of this false techno stuff.
Ironic, because techno music now makes up about 50% of my music library. It gets me dancing in the morning, it focuses my head in the library, it chills me out in the evenings, and it releases me from my inhibitions on a night out.
What is this obsession music snobs have with polarising ‘real’ and ‘electronic’ music? It reduces the definition of music down to a dangerously narrow spectrum, and it also patronises some of today’s most inspiring musicians. Basically, it creates an imaginary hierarchy of music-making methods which disregards technological advances. We don’t do that with any other creative pursuit – film, theatre, art – so why do we do it with music?
What happens to the mind-blowingly vast electronic compositions by Hans Zimmer for Inception? Or Reznor and Ross’s crazy film score for The Social Network? How do we explain the melodies woven into a Flume track, or the gorgeous resolve of a Jack Garratt song, if they aren’t real music?
Music is ultimately about sound, in all its forms, and the skill of putting together different sounds to create melodies, harmonies, builds and drops, in order to make the listener feel something. I can’t describe what I feel like when I’m playing Sam Gellaitry’s Long Distance on full volume and the bass drops. And I value the adrenaline rush of that experience just as much as I value the blissful dream state I’m sent into by Queen’s Love of My Life.
This really hit home for me when I watched the viral video of Maggie Rogers playing Alaska to Pharrell Williams. She described a spiritual experience she had in France, where she was first introduced to electronic dance music: “Suddenly, this thing that had always been the most unnatural and the most artificial – I understood the release of it, and it became the most natural thing.” This was the moment I realised music doesn’t just have one purpose or intention; there are infinite reasons to make a song and just as many ways to interpret it. Leonard Cohen wrote music to be felt deep in the soul, late at night with a candle burning and a mild existential crisis brewing in your head. Hayden James is making beats to ignite a physical response, dancing on a jam-packed dance floor.
What I’m getting at here is this: I don’t think you really love music if you don’t love, or at least appreciate, all music. You can be a lover of classic rock or a classical fan, but if you don’t understand the musicality of every genre then you’re missing out on the deep-rooted admiration for the unutterable, indescribable ‘thing’ that makes music… music.