Saturday, February 18, 2012

What's Going On

This morning, I received an email from my aunt:

Je vais donner ton numéro de tel à Peter Sellars
il va t'appeler dans qq semaines qd il sera à Berkley
gros bisous


Zanzoun [my childhood nickname]
I'm going to give your phone number to Peter Sellars
he's going to call you in a few weeks when he'll be in Berkley (sic)
big kisses

Very interesting. My uncle has worked with Peter Sellars several times. This is why my aunt knows him. She's aware that I'm an obscure musician of some kind, and she figured I could do with some help. Correct. I'm open to whatever comes my way. At this point in my life, I've sat through enough random rendezvous to be intrigued rather than frightened by the prospect of a conversation with Peter Sellars. Take note. I'm not talking about the dead British comedian. I'm talking about this guy:

Excellent hairdo. He's an iconoclastic theater and opera director, and he really means it. That's pretty much all I know about him. So I've taken it upon myself to do some research. If I'm potentially going to speak to the man, I should know a little more about him, shouldn't I? Yes, I should. Especially if, as evidenced by the YouTube clip linked above, he believes that one should not "WAIT FOR THEM TO COME WHERE YOU ARE, BUT INSTEAD, TAKE THE JOURNEY YOURSELF, BECAUSE IF YOU ARE BORED IT IS BECAUSE YOU ARE BO-RING." I can't bear the thought of being BO-RING, and Peter Sellars is definitely no slouch when it comes to engaging with others, The Other, and everything in between:

"For me, one of the hardest things to deal with about the 20th century — and I'm very relieved that it's finished — is that it was so absorbed in psychology and the self. Psychology is probably the least interesting thing going on in your life. At the end of the day, reducing your life to your own psychological problems is to devalue your place in history, is to devalue your political commitments, is to devalue what we're all doing here for each other. It is to devalue what overwhelming waves of spiritual energy or insight are breaking upon us, in the midst of these catastrophes, and not to get that life is difficult for a reason. It's not to get that we are actually being pushed, and pulled, and drawn out of ourselves."

Oh. Life is difficult for a reason. I should stop devaluing my place in history and make music that channels the "overwhelming waves of spiritual energy or insight" breaking upon us every single moment of our existence. I think I understand. Although it may begin there, art shouldn't stop at the psychology of the self. It's not about escaping far into an inner world and never emerging. It's not about hiding in your room for years and hoping that someone will miraculously discover your creations. It's about using the self as a means through which to connect with others and potentially overcome difficulty together. Obviously! I mean, obviously, this is what music is about. This is especially what pop music is about. Britney wants to make us dance. Adele wants to make us cry. Prince wants to make us horny. It's about us. Well, some of us. Maybe you hate Britney and can't understand how she has anything to do with Peter Sellars and all that stuff about being drawn out of ourselves, but her music is intended for someone. Her music draws someone out of themselves and onto a communal dance floor.

So then. Back to FEZANT. Who is our music for? What does it do? Why do we even bother? Our aim is to write songs that evoke emotion. At their best, as Stefan says, referencing Gilles Deleuze on Francis Bacon, our songs should be pure sensation. I used to write songs that primarily functioned as vehicles through which to escape my current reality with its slew of psychological problems. Why doesn't he love me, I love him so much, no one understands me, and so on. I still write songs like this. There's a place for solipsism. It's a valid state of mind. It exists. But it's not very useful on its own, by which I mean, it needs a frame, by which I mean, what's the bigger picture, by which I mean, how can I connect my love and pain to the love and pain of others? I can think about the listener as I write the music. I can look my audience in the face. I can pay attention to the place where I live, the people who surround me, and what the fuck they're all doing with their lives. As in, what's going on? This is what our new album will be about.

I'll let you know if and how the Sellars rendezvous goes. Meanwhile, new lyrics to a new song as of yet unsung, uncomposed and unarranged. Check it out:

The West

I miss my mother
The way she holds my hands
I miss my mother
The way she understands
About the future
And everything that's coming to me
You will be happy
As long as you have children

Without a father
I find myself afloat
Upon an ocean
Unacceptably cold
And at the bottom
Shipwrecks from Japan
Turned to pearls and sand

This is the West
This is the West
Travel light and do your best
To make a mark upon the virgin land
And when the spirits visit in the night
Don't give in to their demands

I saw a soldier
Standing on the pier
Without his boots on
Trembling in fear
It was the moon
Risen in the afternoon
As it does
Above the desert dunes

If he could show me
Something he has seen
And I could offer
Words to wash him clean
Then we would slowly
Start to cross the line
Separating space and time

This is the West
This is the West
Travel light and do your best
To make a mark upon the virgin land
And when the spirits visit in the night
Don't give in to their demands

Don't repeat the prayers they speak
Don't unlearn the language you earned
So many years ago
Don't unpack because
One day we will go back

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