What Playing Music Taught Me

I finally got my DJ deck 😈 There is a whole story surrounding the DJ deck purchasing so I will tell you that now. There were a few channels for me to buy the deck: one being from a music store, another through a site similar to eBay, and the best way of course was to buy it directly from the brand. After sourcing for a while I finally bought it directly from the brand through an eBay-esque app because if I had bought it from the music store they’d have to contact the brand anyway because they didn’t have stock. I was just cutting the middleman out.

I was waiting for the shipment for three weeks and during those three weeks the person liaising with me was telling me he’d hook me up with local DJs who could teach me how to spin via Zoom. Naturally I was excited, I even disregarded the creepy vibes he was sending, and I should have asked if he had wanted photos of me. The guy even delivered the deck personally to me eventually. We all wear face masks now due to Covid, and even with the mask on I could see the disappointed expression on his face when he saw what I looked like. I had a feeling he was excited about me before seeing what I looked like because if he had ‘discovered’ the next big local DJ that would probably up his ‘street cred’.

I think (my opinion only, you really don’t have to agree) men who show disappointment because what they’re looking at is not aesthetically ‘pleasing’ to them, either watch a lot of pornography, no, hentai and don’t know what real women look like, or just don’t have enough friends to understand women (and men!) come in all shapes, sizes and features. Either all that, or that I’m too ugly. (I am not, but in any case I am not too concerned now, but when this was happening I questioned a few friends whether they found me cute which was such a waste of time because who gives an actual fuck!)

So anyway I don’t know the business term for ‘ghosting’ but he didn’t reply after that to my question about the Zoom lessons. Most people I told this story to told me to report to the brand that their employee behaved this way. I’m not really interested because business is a lot like dating and relationships. It has nothing to do with solely looks or personality or whatever else. With this kind of thing it’s always a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’.

When I first went clubbing I was 16. I didn’t go clubbing to hook up with dudes. I had a genuine interest to have a great time with my friends listening to club hits and dancing. And I always thought I’d make a great DJ. I certainly could put on better music than whatever the clubs were playing (oh how naive).

So I play with my deck now most days after work, and initially I put on a lot of music I listened to at the clubs like some trip down memory lane. And I realised I either had grown up or maybe I just simply don’t enjoy the ‘music-making’ process because the music I now enjoy listening to is super different from the music I did when I was 16. It’s not necessarily new music, it’s just different genres altogether. And like S said, I can agree that I too, am all over the place with the music I enjoy, so it’s challenging to stick to one genre. However, playing music for yourself or making your own Spotify playlists is definitely different from playing music for other people with other people in mind. Mainstream music is popular and well-received by the masses. It’s a business with the main goal to sell records and I am sure to a certain extent it helps people express their feelings. What feelings I don’t know. And maybe not much, but I am sure some form of expression exists. I certainly don’t look down on it. I no longer listen to the radio ever since Spotify started existing because I now have a choice to play all my favourite songs. I can also discover new music. But radio shows are fun because when a song you like unexpectedly plays, you feel something. I don’t think mainstream music is that vacuous, but I no longer enjoy it as a consumer. I used to hate anything electronic/a, house, progressive house, techno, dub, dubstep or indie, but I have a lot of fun playing with these songs (for myself). There is a lot of material to work with.

So by playing music in just two weeks I learnt these things:

1) I really don’t need to apologise. I don’t mean this in a ‘even if you did something wrong you shouldn’t apologise because fuck everyone else’ way, but it’s more about putting out the music I enjoy myself and not having to apologise for it being different from what people are used to/want to hear. If I don’t enjoy playing reggaeton then I should have the freedom to play something else.

2) Music is an escape. I never used to get this, especially about people born in the 60s and 70s (I have friends born in these decades) who listened to music in their adolescence as an expression or to break away from societal pressure or to not feel oppressed. In my case the music I listen to now provides a great escape from whatever I deal with in real life (from a parent’s death to work pressure and disappointments arising from failed relationships). When I play music I really am on timeout, and time and everything else going on in my life seem irrelevant.

3) Identity. I think all my life I have been concerned about not being ‘Malay enough’ or a good Muslim because the things I feel and the things I do always seem to contradict what being Malay or Muslim is. Music removes whatever stupid expectations I have of myself regarding identity. I must remind myself I am allowed to enjoy Malay music and songs if I want to and to reject it if I don’t. I am allowed to be me and I shouldn’t think in terms of ‘is this Malay enough’ or does this fit ‘my looks?’

4) Having fun. I am brought back to painting lessons I took years ago. I was unable to throw paint randomly at my canvas despite encouragement from the instructor because I was so concerned with making the work look great or acceptable. It took a while to get to the stage where I just stopped ‘thinking’ and did it. It was difficult but when I finally was able to do it I remember I didn’t give a rat’s ass about what other people thought of my work. I hope to achieve that feeling again through my music.

5) Coolness Factor. This is somehow related to point 4. I should really work on not giving a shit about what people think about me whether in music or other aspects of my life. I’m not playing music to make money for myself or to find an audience to worship me, and my priority should be making music and learning new things, instead of playing what I think people want to hear.

6) Playing and making music use my strengths πŸ˜€ I like music in general, I sing when I feel sad/angry/happy. I like doing research and reading. Over the past two weeks I have been listening to and reading about so much music across different genres and I think this helps the creative portion.

7) I need to learn to chill While hanging out with friends almost a month ago one said I could be described as salty. My other friend was quick to defend me (sweet!) and I think music helps me channel some energy away from always being on edge.

I am not sure if these things would evolve over time. We shall see! What are some outlets you use to channel your creativity?

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