Bear with me for a moment, because I’m not sure where I am going with this, though I promise it relates to music (or at least the way we experience it). If you are a frequent reader of The Indie Handbook, you may have noticed that I have been away for a couple of weeks. It wasn’t really an intentional hiatus, it just sort of happened, and while I love this blog, I am glad I’ve had these two weeks to myself. It has given me a chance to think about a lot of things: about this blog – where we started, how far we’ve come, where we’re going; – the paradoxical, amorphous, ridiculous “indie” universe we (all of us) are constantly creating and defining, even whilst it defines “us” and what the crap this all has to do with me.
And, in all of this, it’s that quest for self-definition – and the subsequent manufactured persona – which has stuck with me (while this is the ideal place for a Kierkegaard reference, I’ll give it a miss; go read The Sickness Unto Death). It’s time we faced the truth: we are a lost generation. Unfortunately, while we are tragically overrun with Hemingways, we haven’t produced an Eliot or Fitzgerald yet (though I suspect there is at least a Hart Crane in our midst, you’ve not yet met her; she lives in Chicago). Even though we claim to prize ambiguity above all other virtues and cherish what we like to call “nuance”, we all require some degree of definition.
And I am not immune to this. When we began this blog, we set out to be ourselves. We were going to ignore the rules and dress code and requisite iPod playlists that define indieness and be honest with you about who we are and what we like – and where the music is concerned, I think we’ve achieved that. But talking to Kristin this week, I came to the realization that I have done a fair bit of inventing over the last eight months. I’ve reinvented myself (or, more accurately, manufactured a second, internet exclusive, Self), and I’m not sure I like him.
Internet Eric is fascinated by celebrities, loves cute girls, and has a particular appreciation for cute celebrities with a celebrity crush list twelve miles long. He does nothing but listen to, think about, and write about music all day. But if you went to a show expecting to meet a trendy, girl chasing, indie music blogger with earphones permanently attached to his head, you’d never find him, because he doesn’t exist. The real me cannot be trendy because they don’t make “indie” clothes for fat people. I like cute girls, but I am drawn to brilliant, creative, irrepressible, strong women with wide-ranging interests who are as fascinated by numbers as they are storytelling. And, frankly, you are more likely to catch me reading Lolita or a fashion/design magazine or “The Waste Land” for the 384th time, than listening to my iPod (which is actually an Archos 605). It’s true, I am as cynical in real life as I come across online, but not so much about other people as my own inevitable failure as a human being.
I say this because I met a genius last week. She has created two of the most perfect albums I have ever heard. Her work is so intricate – so detailed – that I hesitate to even wish to understand her creative thought process because I’d probably break something. And, above all of this, she is one of the sweetest people I have ever met. In all, we sat for half an hour in a busy Starbucks and talked. As far as I know, no one recognized her, and all the while, in the back of my mind, was this little voice saying if you only knew who this woman is, what she can do, what she’s already done, you might stop and listen to what she has to say. I doubt she was thinking the same thing.
Later that night, she (Emilie Simon), made her Chicago debut at Berlin Nightclub, which (for those unfamiliar with the club) has a reputation as one of the premier gay discos in the city. I had never been to a specifically “gay” anything (well, a hotel, once, in Boston, but that’s a different story), nor have I ever felt so un-judged in any reputed “straight” club or bar that I’ve been to. I saw things that night that I’ve never experienced before. I saw people who were entirely uninhibited, dancing with abandon and wearing clothes I would never be caught dead in.
And I leaned over to my friend Lindsey and whispered, (read: shouted) in her ear, “I envy them.”
“So do I,” she said.