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WHY I LISTEN TO… | Music That Annoys Me

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by Sararosa Davies

Ask me about how I discovered any of my favorite artists, musicians, or writers, and you’ll likely hear something about me hating them upon first listen, about how annoyed I was when I first discovered their art. I thought Jeremy Messersmith was too quiet, Cloud Cult was too eclectic in their sound, and The Shins wrote weird lyrics. I was never “hooked” by the sounds of the songs, but rather interested in the way they made me feel. In a way, I was subjecting myself to my own type of schadenfreude.  

Jeremy Messersmith’s “The Reluctant Graveyard” reminds me of the sinking feeling I have when my depression gets the best of me, while The Shin’s “Oh, Inverted World” makes me feel like I am in some weird Dr. Seuss type world. Listening to “Oh, Inverted World” is like taking a trip through my mind when I don’t have enough sleep.

I like listening to music that is opposite my mood when I am feeling bad. Sure, listening to “Holiday” by Vampire Weekend when I don’t feel like getting out of bed seems drastic, but it helps. “Holiday” may bounce around my head too much, but it gets me out of the slump I am in and into a different mood.

Indie music, in general, has never been a typical coping mechanism for me. It is not soothing for me. It does not make me feel calm like yoga does. I listen to music, because it annoys me, because it challenges me to find something I love in it. It challenges me to find something I disagree with. Music is not my quick fix. The sound itself is not what makes me feel better, it is the act of change it provokes in me that turns my mood around. I turn to music when I am feeling too much of one emotion, when my thoughts run through my brain so fast I can’t stay still and I need a change in my thinking

My tastes may vary because of this and to me that is okay. I like to think that by listening to music that irks me, I am always discovering new sounds and new loves. For instance, I never would’ve really given Drake the time of day, if not for my cousin who made me listen despite my biases. I am all over the place when it comes to my Spotify playlists and Pandora stations. I have my favorites, but they are always changing. I don’t ever want to be bored with music and I don’t ever want to be stuck in my own feelings. When I am listening to indie music, I am making myself malleable to change.

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