Breaking the “Mix-tape Mentality”

By Isiah Fletcher

Music is a powerful sentience. It has the power to persuade; it has the power to subvert. My expertise in music comes from a background of playing (drumming in many contexts) and sinking hours of listening to the greatest groups around the world. Over the years my ears have honed in on some of the world’s most provocative styles of music: I chase music that illuminates and stimulates. Music that aims to push forward. Music must stand up to the test: “Can I listen to the full album without getting bored?”

I stand for musicians who pour their life’s-blood into their craft, and do my best to light the way for as many women and men in the industry as I can. I have my favorites. As do we all. Metal music gripped my from a very young age. Starting with Iron Maiden and Slayer I soon branched into all sub-genres imaginable. But all styles of music are legitimate. In the end it boils down to personal preference, finding meaning —and relating that meaning to yourself— in the stories and messages in the music.

Here is my advice on sifting through and finding music that truly makes a difference. One; the music is visually stimulating. Crazy, right? You might be thinking, “I hear music; I don’t see it.” Think for a second. You watch a movie without interruption… Yet music is a song here, a song there, a… Ah, time to go to work. Try engaging the music through the story, be it the images the lyrics, or the images the melodies and harmonies evoke.

You may find that the typical top 40 songs don’t stimulate as much as other music does, which leads to my second point: Dig deeper. Take some time to figure out what music really does stimulate the senses. If that’s the top hits, go ahead and keep listening to it. But for many it will take a deeper look, and in my experience it all comes from aligning your beliefs with the messages within the music, finding bands with a deep, forward-moving thought process, and a sincere musical appreciation.

Not everyone needs a Bachelor’s in music to appreciate it. In fact, that may just cause more harm than good. But be earnest with yourself and good music will come. If you’re one who believes that there is only one genre that is right for you, if you think that “bad” music exists, think again. There is no “golden age” of music except the ever-expanding universe of superb albums and songs, which encompasses generations of hard-working, honest musicians. And by learning to appreciate music for what it is — art — you will soon find that every corner of the world, every genre of music, everybody is the same: They render unto the sonic palette a story for all to love and all to grow from.

So go out there and challenge yourself to the task of picking one album and listening to it in full. Maybe the last time you did that was when you couch-locked yourself in college, listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Maybe you attended the sermon of Kanye West’s latest, greatest The Life of Pablo. I constantly refer back to Ghost Reveries, Opeth’s triumphant victory over the ears of listeners outside Sweden. Whatever it is, be certain to let the images take you to the unknown, then let that feeling become familiar, because when it does you will have never felt higher.

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