The other work journey: my path in music

When I first came to this platform, I was looking for a space to write down my thoughts on how the influences I had growing up would not only shape my personality, but try to change it. I was a sort of reclusive kid playing videogames and thinking it was totally okay that my world only existed on a screen. I know today that, first of all, the fact I could have access to that kind of technology is arguably a privilege (some poor families invest in digital TVs, while we still have the tube); but I could actually change things on the screen through a controller, and I wonder how that made me think about the possibilities to come in this new era of media consumption and production. Regardless of what you think about what games do to young brains and spirits, I’d patiently add, there’s more to it than just the real world versus the endless roleplaying or the many overlooked trigger warnings. I’d pay attention to the violin on Star Fox, the percussion on Turok, the scales on Goldeneye, the arrangement on Final Fantasy, the effects on San Francisco Rush, the harpsichord on Castlevania, the marimba on Banjo Kazooie, and of course, the fucking Ocarina. There’s more to it, like the sound of a page turning, a stamp pounded against it, or the stuff that to this day I have absolutely no idea how to make, in those selection menus. But that’s not the point: I wanna talk about how I first started to pay attention to music, and particularly how I turned to the drumkit as my temporary expression, sometimes chaotic, mostly inconsistent and imprecise, but at least since I was 14 years old (which was 16 years ago), part of who I am. Sorry, Mrs. Helena: my flip flops were supposed to be the bass drum, but you don’t bring that kind of thing to the condominium.

This week I was listening to Celine Dion. I think I watched Titanic about 10 times when I was a kid, from a VHS. My ex sang the song two decades later, but I’m not ready to talk about it. I hope you’re well, baby. But that had such a potent form of expression that I maybe it drew me to study because I wanted to make an impact. Not exactly because I wanted people to choose love without fear (though the poor guy drowns cause he’s poor), but just cause I wanted to change the dynamics of the world surrounding me. I had no idea how. But the radio was playing Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and I thought “alright, Zephyr’s Song, I could do that”. The funny thing is I don’t remember if I could hear the hi hat being played at all. I just thought “okay, there’s a thing that echoes and there’s a thing that cuts, it changes a bit but you can copy”. And I wasn’t gonna find out about Bonham until I was in my twenties. Then Linkin Park was playing too, and the one thing I knew was I couldn’t fucking stand Madonna, but she was on MTV. Eminem was on MTV, and for some reason I liked him — the song he made literally for the kids. They even put some Elvis on the screen. Then my friend introduced me to some heavier stuff. I was reading Maiden lyrics in the classroom, discovering differences between live and studio versions, but somehow, even while I was still 14, I had to balance my attention with other bands who were actually real, not the kind that you hear about and start liking because it’s some idea of who you wanna be. So my friends went to a Shadowside and Shaman concert, and I stayed home playing games.

I’m a terrible storyteller, I know. I could be here saying “new day shines, fallen angels will arise; let’s look at this rhyme scheme, AAAA, AAAA, but can you see the metaphors?” And well, I’m not. All I know is something happened, the drum machine thing got me started but the metal covers didn’t work. I’ve told this story over and over, I’m kinda tired. But there I was, playing Japanese covers instead, but I still liked metal. Except it was some kind of glamourized version of it, with a piano and dudes wearing make up and some fucking costumes. I loved these songs, actually. I just didn’t know the guitarrist wasn’t with us anymore. I didn’t have internet, I just couldn’t search for the whole history of X Japan. And if I thought Angra did a great job lyricwise, something told me the Japanese didn’t. Well, think again: they just never felt like speaking English, and they did anyway, how is that a problem? I could let you know my grandma who I haven’t seen since I left my therapist in a bleak afternoon in 2016 watched me play Kurenai at this event sponsored by an English school, but that’s just a spark of a memory — though she was listening to stuff you Americans wouldn’t dream of seeing in your country, like É o Tchan, and she still went there to see her grandson play Japanese fucking metal and clapped all the way, making jokes about it later cause it was really intense. Grandma Zilma, I fucking miss you. But I got to a point where these bands were part of daily life, and literally nobody else was listening to them. Not just Dir en Grey and L’arc en Ciel, or even MUCC, but shady, completely underground stuff like fucking Rentrer en Soi or bands nobody even liked (Rentrer en Soi). We played Malice Mizer live in Brazil, have you seen the clip for Bel Air? That was definitely not what I wanted. But there were a couple of unfortunate events, and I guess nobody’s happy all the time with what they’ve got, especially if you have a musician in the family who died trying, and let me add that note to myself: you don’t really have to be a musician.

While some of my friends wanted me to listen to Gamma Ray, I was actually going for simple sax notes and low profile melodies, and honestly, give me one life lesson I can’t quote Dave Matthews on. I’m not the “we have the power, we are divine, we have the guts” kinda guy. I’m really the guy who wants to get Rapunzel right, but don’t ask me to sing the next one up. So I went in another direction. I started to get to the roots. Sabbath, Cream, Zeppelin, finally. I think that’s when the magic happened: I had to decode Bill Ward. And honestly, can you? I don’t know, but I don’t remember them mentioning Moby Dick — enough is enough. I tried and I tried, we started two original bands, one more influenced by the Japanese, the other more of a mash up of bluesy experimentation, and then it was us trying. But the timelines are blurry. You fast forward that just a bit and I was going from Opeth to Tool, from Miles to Paramore, from Amy to The Mars Volta. You go back and there’s U2 and Oasis playing in the kitchen, you move to 2020 and I’m cheering for Billie and wondering what Lana really thinks of me, all the while mister Fantano looms over with the potential to trash me at any attempt to express myself and beat me up if I think it’s not fair.

And why? Because I tried to understand the internet. People didn’t even think I was trying to understand music, or the philosophers and linguists, or the poems and novels, most of them skipped anyway. They thought I wanted to understand the whole net of communication in the entire fucking planet. And no, brother, I wasn’t. I was thinking I could get 2K as a teacher (pretty great when I think about my 10 dollar pair of shoes on my Amazon wishlist) and maybe rent a place. But now I see I could never rent a place. And 2K wasn’t fair at all. Minimum wage, use it wisely. I couldn’t even get that. So I’m starting to think all people want to hear about are the girls. Not the whole humor thing, not the whole household care thing, not the sickness, not the family, and definitely not some random ass interpretation of ethics, AI and shit. They really wanna hear about the girls. So what I have to say about the girls is I’m sorry, I’m just cuddly, but there’s some nasty shit out there. And what I have to say to the families of the girls is I’m sorry, I’m lazy as hell and I totally tried to blame my failures on meritocracy with a pinch of fake submission going on. So to every young musician out there, try to focus, for the love of Christ. Say nice things about each other. Damn, I could say nice things about the girls. I really could. But they weren’t really interested in the musician, or the media mogul, or the player. They wanted to be cared for. I just listed some people who cared for me, and I don’t know if Maynard, Stefan, Pridgen, Mikail, Hayley, Taylor (yes, Taylor), Bruce or Kyo have anything in common, or people I’m forgetting to mention, like Sipe, Sierra, Lenine, Frejat, Gwizdala, Meytal, all the people who had my back basically, who I felt close to, Alicia fucking Keys, Vincent and Danny, even Grohl. You all got somewhere. And what the hell is this, a blog? I don’t really know. Noah got it right, but nobody seems to care. I’m lonely as hell. But I thought you guys were lifting me up this whole time, keeping me going. There’s a lot of other people, the locals too, Bong or Bayside or what happens in the studio when you watch at the other side of the mirror and you feel like it’s pretty fucking decent, the jammers, the people who came to see every time, who shared, who commented, who made it happen. I’m thankful. And you know what I know? That one day I’m gonna have to explain a lot. But we all move on to the next thing, and maybe my time has passed. And it’s okay. I’ll just ask you one thing: don’t judge the language. I know it’s hard if you know what I’m talking about, but seriously, the language is wanting to be part. There’s a reason why Weekend Warrior comes before Fear of the Dark. The rebel of yesterday, tomorrow’s fool. That’s totally the story. But we’ll see where it goes.

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