July 18, Three Stooges, Ashish Seth
Music, Credibility and Obscurity
By Ashish Seth
Often times famous musicians will make put out DJ mixes or advertise their current playlist. Are these mixes an attempt to demonstrate a highly unique musical taste, an attempt to bolster a reputation and gain respect? Is good musical taste simply having a playlist that doesn’t look like anyone else’s? Is good taste in music simply having a playlist no one can recognize? Why is musical credibility found in how deep you dig the crates of musical obscurity?
It’s an assumption that when we pick up a DJ mix from a celebrated musician, we’re expecting songs by artists that very few people know. Apparently the skill in crafting unique mixes is supposed to show the listener that the artist’s taste in music is far superior, that they are on the frontier of music and so you should listen to them. A DJ mix becomes a badge of street cred, a ritual demonstration, a routine check up at the credibility doctor, a document to the genre that says “I know my shit!”
But however pretentious the listeners are in their conception of the producer’s intent on creating such mixes, I think DJ mixes are attempts at documenting the musical psyche, the mental space where all the inspiration and creativity takes place. A DJ mix or playlist is the sound of the artist’s head: if these are the songs that inspire the artist to create, we know where his head’s at when he’s walking the streets, doing his groceries, picking up kids from work, etc and so forth. I implore all listeners to stop buying into the illusion of bestowing indie cred or making bold statements about a musician’s musical taste based on the uniqueness of the mix. Some of the greatest songs may have been inspired from the most obvious places. Instead, a DJ mix or playlist is a document of the artist’s personality: the songs chosen are just how deep the artist had to dig the crates in the musical wilderness to find himself. If anything, it says something about his persistence to be himself.
By Ashish Seth