Create A Connection: The Importance of Music

There is always an argument to be had between generations, their differentiating political views, beliefs, or ideas about society. What you can and what you can’t wear, or who you can and who you can’t marry. Culture and shared events are large generational influences that shape the larger social group and with differentiating values and beliefs from one to another, there are large gaps between the ideologies of Gen-Z versus someone of the Baby Boomer generation. One of the biggest factors that blocks generations from understanding each other is technology. Though, ironically, enough I think that technology, especially the internet, is what can ultimately bridge the gap between groups.

My own introduction to the internet started like this: Christmas morning I’m sitting with my legs kicking off of the family’s black leather couch. The Nightmare Before Christmas is playing on the television. My wide eyes are directed up to my grandparents. They gifted me an iPad Mini accompanied with a hot pink case.

That’s when my long relationship with the internet began. Instead of walking the dog or reading book series like Percy Jackson when I got home from school, my post-school routine, through elementary and middle school, became watching Youtubers like DanTDM and StampyLongNose play Minecraft for hours. That along with spending many late nights to pull an all-nighter to watch random channels build everything from family townhouses to luxury condos on Sims. I’m sure that many others in Generation Z had a similar upbringing, mine is certainly not unique. Whenever Minecraft is bought up alone, a lot of people gather to talk about it. Strangely enough, there are a lot of people within my own age group who are able to connect on growing up playing video games and watching Youtube. There’s a strong connection there that I have come to appreciate. Additionally, without Youtube I don’t think I would have the same taste in music that allows me to connect with other groups and generations today.

That’s to say, my music taste over the years has been mostly shaped by my parents and the YouTube algorithm. For me it has been fundamental in exposing me to some of my favorite bands like Supertramp to Stanly Dan. It’s given people twice my age leeway to say, “You have an old soul.” When I talk to them about the music I love, it gives me a place to talk to them. To connect with them on the music that they love too. Funnily enough during Covid I found YouTube had become my favorite place to find new music and to connect with other people. Scenery – Ryo Fukui was one favorite that I found when most of the world had shut down during 2020, it opened a gateway of Japanese jazz and fusion for me. In it’s comment section one commenter @cryzz0n remarks on their memories of seeing the jazz musician play:

I was lucky enough to see him live twice in Sapporo. It was weird, mostly an empty jazz club on both nights. He was a regular performer there and may have even owned the club in the Susukino area. I remember chatting with Fukui-san between sets. Charming, vibrant and full of energy…which all mirrors his playing. I still have photos of myself with Fukui-san from one of those nights and still enjoy his music to this day. Probably my most treasured musically related memory from my 10 years in Tokyo, along with meeting Kan Mikami and seeing him live in a small cafe in Asagaya, in my old neighborhood. Cheers to good music and RIP to Fukui-san. We still have your music to enjoy.

It’s here where people feel free to share some of their most intimate stories. It’s one of my favorite and, in my opinion, most human places on the internet. Furthermore I was introduced to other artists like Alice Coltrone and Masayoshi Takanaka during this period of isolation. In the comment section there are stories from people who might be afraid to share these thoughts and feelings in person. It’s a place where beautiful stories are able to be shared and support each other through. A strange wonderful community, one might think.

In this age though most people use Apple Music or Spotify to stream their music. I can’t argue with this because it’s awfully more convenient to be able to put your Liked playlist on shuffle instead of having to pick a random YouTube video for your daily commute. With that has come the death of commercial radio. Like the Buggles had said in 1979, “Video Killed the Radio Star.” Then came streaming. The age of 15 second videos and trending sounds are here. Gone are the days of wild Disc Jockeys like “The Mad Daddy”, who would crackle in between songs, and commercial radio. More than ever I heavily place the importance on both independent and college radio stations.

The two rules of Florida International University’s The Roar are: 1. No curse words. 2. Nothing charting on the top 50 songs, making for an interesting new mix of music. It was raining horribly when I visited the radio station in March with my bright red raincoat soaked. Though, when I came inside, being greeted by someone playing folk songs like Sunflower River Blues by John Fahey on their acoustic guitar mixed with warm conservation made that journey worth it. This is what Maxwell Dickinson, the general manager of the Roar at the time, told me when I asked why he wanted to join college radio in the first place. “These. Kids, like me, could just play whatever music they wanted to.” Was what he said. Maxwell wanted a fun way to play and share his music. Which I would say he found through the college radio station. Before he had graduated from the university in spring, the previous general manager celebrated the 100th episode of his show Intercontinental Flight. A show that focuses on playing music from around the world. The event was commemorated in a 9 and half hour broadcast where Maxwell played one song from every single country in the world. It took him all day one Saturday and Maxwell says he was, “happy he did it.”

After I had interviewed Maxwell, I went to speak with a DJ from the station. I talked with Allyson who tries “to find more bands who are lesser known in the genre to amplify their voice,” with her own show. Velcro: Shoegaze & Dreampop. When I spoke with her she said that she was drawn to the station to play around with more music. To explore more sub genres and to better understand what goes into making music. Through The Roar she has found a community of musicians and music lovers all part of the Miami alternative music scene.

What this visit taught me is how key music can be in creating communities. That and how because of technology generations like Generation Z are able to discover music and these niche generations that they’re able to share with others through YouTube or College Radio per say. Though it’s something that anybody can do. 90.1WMBT The Wombat has introduced me to songs in everything from classic rock, new rock, old country, folk, and just songs that I have never heard before. It’s a local radio station based in Gainesville, FL, with the branding of being a “Locally Driven Radio.” It’s the kind of station that you want to have Shazam out for, ready for the next something that you have never heard before but is your new favorite song.

This has strengthened my own fascination with music. With its ability to be a time capsule for a person’s memories, the countless genres, and how communities are consistently built around it. People are drawn to music and respectfully relationships are built through it too. I find that happening to me whenever I text my older cousins and I text when we talk about music. Charli XCX. Chappell Roan. We’ll talk and talk. It’s made me realize that music is one of those few things that people from all different ages can talk about. No matter your age or beliefs, there is a connection to music.

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