One question that has jarred my mind for years is the first thing almost every adult told me when they first found out I was moving to China, “Wow! Colleges will love you because of that, you can just write all about your experiences in China.” I hated that, I don’t think of my life as growing up in Ohio, Belgium, Illinois and China. I look at the progression of my life through music and how it has influenced me as a person, ultimately to discover that there is no such thing as strangers when you have the same taste in music.
Music has always been apart of my life; it has become a medium of experiencing my own thoughts and a reflection of my identity. The development in exploring and experiencing music is what transitioned me from a kid conforming to the typical “preppy” suburban lifestyle, to an individualistic adult with a voice. I began to connect the emotions and experiences I’ve had in life with the music I was listening to.
The song “Ocean Man” conjures the image of when my friends and I would skateboard all day, from our houses to the heart of Shanghai. We would be dipping and ducking amongst the masses as we rolled through our smoggy reality. The song “Messes of Men” reminds me of the sorrow in my step as I boarded a plane leaving China.
After struggling to fit in at Shanghai American School for over a year, it appeared that my venture into the subculture of skateboarding allowed me to connect with people.
Although, it had nothing to do with skateboarding, that was merely the strengthening factor to my friendship with some guys. In actuality, music was the communal factor that brought us together. Certain songs started to become an identity for our group, songs we all enjoyed. Even in the blazing heat of the summer, we could be sitting on our self-claimed bench and sing those songs as we strutted our stuff on our skateboards. Music is what drove bonds in a rather diverse group of guys. It taught me that, there is no such thing as strangers when you have the same taste in music.
This bond through music became most apparent in my relationship with Harri, a skinny Scottish boy with ghostly white skin and curly hair. Harri and I developed similar styles of music. We both enjoyed some of the weirdest stuff compared to relevant pop culture. Whether it was jazz, soul, gypsy, classical, drone, lo-fi, cabaret, psychedelic, folk, punk, post-hardcore or spoken word. We met and connected through our interest in Modest Mouse. Harri and I could talk about the music as freely as we wanted, recognizing the clever riffs or the diverse range of instruments. He then moved to Abu Dhabi and I moved to Illinois, yet we still share music and write for a music blog.
There is no one piece that has influenced me as a person; music is too emotional, and too specific to define one piece as an influential factor. I’m always connected, influenced, and inspired by music as a whole. It’s frustrating to not be able to connect to everyone when it comes to music, but I recognize that music is one of the most opinionated subjects. This absence of connection is what has driven my exploration in music and what has developed my own personal views. The power of music is as large as one individual makes it to be, it can be a seemingly endless void of influence and understanding or as insignificant as the dust in your attic.