Tone Deaf

Tone Deaf

I donít play any musical instruments. Iím uncoordinated, have short arms, and despise sucking at something I donít have an inherent knack for. Basically, I canít get over my fear of failing at something I love so much. This is one aspect of me, and one aspect of my relationship with music. Another aspect of it is that I am going deaf. Itís a cruel irony for sure, but itís my own fault. Music sounds better loud.

While Iím very self-conscious about these two things, thinking about them makes me wonder what qualifies me to soap-box my passion of music to others. The fact is, I donít necessarily have a qualification any more than your average person on the street listening to their iPod does, other than the fact that Iíve been listening to music for a very, very long time. But havenít we all? I donít want to be all preachy and pretentious because thereís enough of that going around, so I endeavour to earnestly portray what music means to me. Before writing this piece, I was given a rough guideline of what to say. Write about your love of music, they said. Itíll be fun, they said. Therein lies the rub. Iíve been humming and hawing about what needs to be said, but itís my fear of not doing it justice, my fear of failing, that cripples me with anxiety that it wonít be as good as I think it needs to be. 750 words isnít nearly enough space to write about why the 22,000-odd songs that fill my laptop mean so much to me.

I like to think that my vast music collection shows Iím a person who is aurally versatile; that my taste and preferences are in a perpetual state of learning and revision. Iím wise enough to know that there are different strokes for different folks, and you should never bag on someone because they love a genre of music you hate. No one is too cool; thereís always a right time and place. When I purchased Justiceís Ü in 2007, I was repulsed by 90% of the tracks on the album. Interestingly enough, itís now my favorite record of all time. I was 17 then, now Iím 22.

Weíve all been emotionally charged, angst-ridden teenagers, and no doubt weíve all had moments of pious derision when we see someone bobbing along with their headphones, thinking what an asshat they look like. Iíve teared up in poignant moments in a Wes Anderson film when Sigur Růs is playing in the background, but Iíve also waited angrily at train stations listening to Queens of the Stone Age, glaring at old people while truly believing that they didnít ďget itĒ. Iím also certain weíve all been frenzied and wild-eyed at gigs at 5am, when The Chemical Brothers are blaring with an intensity that makes you feel like your brain is leaking out of your ears and your heart will explode.

Itís hard to capture the essence of these moments, to elaborate upon them to express how they made you feel in the right context so that others will nod enthusiastically, telling you with a huge grin, ďFucking aye man, thatís it!Ē Music is emotionally charged, dammit!

Itís often said that those who can, do; those who canít, teach. This is especially pertinent to me. Since I canít express my passion with a kick and snare, I cheerily head to Radio One twice a week to host shows and spin music that makes me feel happy and that I think listeners will enjoy. This is my way of expressing myself in the manner most befitting to me. Additionally, every Tuesday I drag a fat sack of vinyl down to Refuel for the open deck night, which is hosted by the Fat Controllerís Club. I canít mix ó Iím no Tiesto, and I donít have the stage presence of Skrillex ó but this is irrelevant. These nights are always fantastic, and provide me with the opportunity to get over my performance anxiety and play music for musicís sake, to do what I love to do alongside the super-friendly crowd of music enthusiasts that Iíve connected with over the shared love of musical expression and the smiles that brings. The best part is that thereís not a shred of pretense to be found. Coming from someone as self-conscious as I am, that means a whole lot.
This article first appeared in Issue 21, 2012.
Posted 4:26pm Sunday 19th August 2012 by Tom Tremewan.