I had a discussion with someone the other day about liking your own music, you know… are you making music you’d listen to yourself?
I don’t think that’s important. I think it is important to enjoy what you do and feeling confident you know what you’re doing, but listening to that kinda music yourself? Not necessary. I remember when I was younger and listened to the Backstreet Boys, and you’d have these girl magazines citing there fav colour, fav author, stuff like that. And they had very ambitious lists of music like Stevie Wonder (who I know Tori Amos is partial to as well), Ella Fitzgerald, Bessie Smith, David Bowie, and so on and so forth. Take That, N’sync or even Boyz 2 Men weren’t anywhere on this list. Not even older pop like Michael Jackson or Madonna. And hey, say whatcha want about the music, but they are good at it, they have skills and they enjoy doing it. I remember seeing them once in concert, it was like watching five men run a marathon on a medium big stage while keeping a perfect pitch. They could sing, and man could they dance at the same time. Britney always lip synchs because she focuses on her dance so much, that’s why all these “Britney’s real mic” songs keep popping up. She can sing, but not dance at the same time. But these boys… yup, the real deal. They are making a come back with old songs and you can still see the joy and confidence mixed with a little bit of humour (they are very aware of being a grown boy band). And you can still bet at 35-45, they don’t listen to boy bands left and right.
Me? Since I like the genre I’m in (still don’t know what to call it) I do like my own music. Sometimes I can distance myself and just listen with music loving ears. Not a lot, mind you, my voice is still pretty distinct and breaks through the other instruments, and I recognize my own voice (duh). But sometimes I sit down with for example Factory Floors and go: “Ah, cool, someone really worked those cymbals to sound like sharp blades in a factory, and ooooh, cool timing” and then remember it was me sitting there for hours and hours with talented Sofia Rautelin’s cymbal fills. Twisting them, reversing them, putting effects on them, cutting them, more effects, reverse, putting them in the right place. That poor girl, it was a 215 bpm walse, her wrists cramped up at one point and she had to take a break before she resumed playing 😉
But yes, I make records I’d listen to if I didn’t know it was me. That is not to say I am super happy with even the good songs right away. I named Pretty Things my “Tröksång” (boring song), hid it in a file somewhere on my computer and forgot about it. People stumbled on it while on my computer and wondered why I gave it a name like that when it was really good and moving. Last time I had a gig, this song moved someone to tears so much that they had to leave the room (and not because it was crap, I asked, you never know ;D). Haunting was called “really mainstream for you, Maria” in the first versions of it, but then I added the rythmical electric piano and the digital choir and it’s the most listened to song on the Bloody Mary album. That one I believed in from the start though, I just had to do the right moves with the idea. And Ragedi Ann was pretty much just a fun filler til I insisted on trumpet and finding a female trumpet player and I’ve already bragged about that, so I won’t right now but if you’ve followed me I think you know what happened there ;)… It is an example of a genre the instrumentalist neither played nor listened to but she still found it pretty fun and cool and did a good job. So it’s not always immediately the songs I’d have a listen to that become the best ones. That is to say; the method of making art you’d watch/listen to isn’t necessary. It’s good, it’s ab fab dahling, but not mandatory.
My dear departed degu pal Maddox used to sing along to the songs of mine that he liked, so he was a bit of a indicator in the old days. The new boys, Lennox and Ringo, just likes it when the piano goes plinky plonk (in fact sometimes they crawl into my acoustic piano and play it from the inside) plus they eat my remote control buttons -odd numbers only for some reason – so I can’t trust them. My bunny Lenka likes to have a listen in her listening spot, but I can’t trust her with the up-tempos as they scare her. So… I have to trust myself nowadays…
And when I started recording Animalic, I had doubts about every song, but they were playing in the most awesome way in my head, even crossing eachother in interludes that I didn’t know if they would work but… it sounded so good in that mind of mine! And it worked! I really made an album I’d listen to myself (one time I even did, it was on repeat for a 150 km drive). So what do I listen to? A heavenly mix of everything. Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush, Carole King, Carly Simon, Tori Amos, Lenka (not the bunny), Regina Spektor in my genre but also System of a Down, Queen, Rufus Wainwright, Aerosmith, The Doors, even Lady Gaga sneaks in there once in a while. They all influence me in some way, so I should like my own songs since they are inspired by a mix of everything I like.
It may sound like a giant ego talking but I really do like my records, and would probably listen more if my voice wasn’t on them. I know it’s not bad, but again, I can’t get the proper distance to just enjoy the song. So don’t be disappointed, if you’re one of my happy listeners, I like it too. I can’t like it in the way you do, but I do enjoy it.
And if you’re not one of those who makes music you listen to yourself; as long as you like doing what you’re doing and want to do what you’re doing, keep it up. Bringing more good music to the world is never a crime.