The beauty of exploring different genres: what are you waiting for?

Alternative Rock Band, “Brand New” which is my favorite band.

Over quarantine, I had so much time on my hands that I had no idea what to do with it, so I indulged myself in music. I had the pleasure of meeting a group of people that soon became some of my best friends, and while they were extremely kind to me their music tastes were an added plus. Being around them for most of the day, I started to adopt their musical interests and they started to introduce me to different songs of multiple genres. Whenever they would talk about music, I would always be taken aback by how many artists and bands they knew, but I could never contribute since I only listened to one genre of music. In eagerness to feel included, I started to explore different types of music like rock, pop, indie, folk, and even classical.

Soon, it was no longer about trying to fit in or be included, instead it became about expanding my musical palate and opening myself to a world of new new experiences that I had missed out on because I was confined to the comfortable world of limiting myself to a single genre. Many people stay within their comfort zones because it’s easy and familiar, but it restricts you from reaching your full potential and what you truly yearn for. If this was applied to music, one could imagine how many potential favorite songs and artists they’re missing out on due to being stuck on one genre (their comfort zone). The only thing I regret about going out of my musical comfort zone is not having done it sooner.

I think I’ve always appreciated music from a young age, maybe not to the extent that I do now, but I do know it played a role in my upbringing in a way. Since I’ve discovered all different types of music, I have downplayed what a significant role music had in my life when I was younger. Compared to the average elementary schooler, I did listen to music quite a bit because I found it as a means of self-expression. When I was younger, the movies and media I consumed included music that I grew to love and carried on with me for years. For a long period of my life, I wanted to become a singer because it was the only hobby that made me happy. Speaking of happiness, I remember an instance when I walked into my brother’s room during the MTV music awards and Pharrell Williams was on stage accepting an award for his music video for ‘Happy’. As if I was on cue, my brother had incorrectly guessed his name and I say “Oh, is that Pharell Williams,” to which my eldest brother replies, “How did she guess that and not you?” He says it’s because I am constantly listening to music, and in retrospect, I think someone in my family expected me to do something related to music when I was younger. I have so many pictures with my brother’s electric guitar where im singing and picking the strings and even though I had no idea what I was doing, I knew I was having a good time. 

My love for music never really dialed down, but my connection to it in around seventh grade when I realized a career in singing was not very practical and I was much too old to enjoy Disney channel and Owl City dwindled. The popular music people were listening to did not really appeal to me, because it felt like a hassle to keep up with and lacked variety. I was pretty lost after my favorite and only artist I listened to had passed away. I took a break from music, because it felt that was the last connection I had. My favorite thing about music is the ability to connect with the artist themselves through their pieces, which is why my rediscovery during quarantine helped me fall back in love with it and stay out of the dumps.

Another thing I love about music is how listening to a song can instantly take you back to a certain place in your life. Exploring and finding new genres just added more music in my catalogue to make memories with. I could not imagine how much music I was missing out when I found it last summer. I always listened to what was popular on the radio or music from trends that my friends were shoving in my face and had no choice but to listen to so I would not feel left out. Even though I’d gladly sing along, I didn’t really connect to it and avoided popular song releases, but by exploring music and different genres myself I was able to find what I liked and music with deeper meaning that I could connect to. Before this, I always tended to ignore full albums and only listen to the popular singles that derived from them but I was missing out on tons of other great songs because I focused on the trending one. Artists make albums for a reason, so you can grasp the concept and story they were trying to sell to you. Only doing what I did is confining yourself to a world of monotony.

My first introduction to shoegaze, a sub-genre of rock, was My Bloody Valentine in the movie ‘Lost in Translation’ and it felt like a warm, sonic blanket that clung onto me until I drifted into a big fuzz. I was absolutely in awe about how guitars could make such an ethereal sound, and since then it has been one of my favorite musical genres. I also did not know just how much labor goes into actually producing an album. To produce the album Loveless, My Bloody Valentine nearly bankrupted their label and the lead guitarist Kevin Shields worked countless hours a day to perfect the melodies that would appear on the album. Being able to recognize a song from a few seconds of a signature riff is mind-blowing if you ask me. I would have never seen myself listening to, let alone enjoying rock, but once you expose yourself to more music you start to appreciate different kinds. Shoegaze is not for everyone, but that same excitement and euphoria can come from anything you enjoy that much, so why confine yourself to one sound when there are a million others waiting?

Some of my favorite Songs to help you expand your music taste:

Elliott Smith – Alameda, Duster – Inside Out, Wilco – Jesus, Etc., Sufjan Stevens – Futile Devices, The Smiths – This Charming Man, Fiona Apple – To Your Love, Kanye West – Homecoming, Radiohead – Everything In Its Right Place, The Cure – Just Like Heaven, My Bloody Valentine – When You Sleep

Michelle Henaku – Stevenson H.S.