If you follow Peggy Nelson on Twitter (where she’s @otolythe), or her writings at hilobrow.com, you know she pays particular attention to sonic subjects. It was a pleasure when she inquired about interviewing me about Disquiet projects, and it was doubly a pleasure when the interview got underway. Not only did she lead up to the interview with a great overview of the Disquiet Junto group a few days in advance, she also illustrated both articles with a well-chosen selection of tracks from both the Junto and Instagr/am/bient. And, she asked some great questions that worked together collectively to get me thinking about threads that run through various projects, and where they are rooted in the broader culture, and in my own personal experience. The full interview is at hilobrow.com. It’s pretty lengthy (Nelson tags it as a #longread), so I’ll reproduce here my response to her final question, on the chance some readers don’t get that far:
What’s your view of music in the 21st century? Where’s it going, where should it go?Read the full piece at hilobrow.com. More on Nelson at peggynelson.com and twitter.com/otolythe.
Man, how many pages do you have for me to fill? I’ll be brief with this one, or try to be. I think talking about the future is a fool’s game, and even though I’m as foolish as the next person, I’m going to talk about the present instead.
I think we’re in a resplendently transitional moment, and while I have no idea what kind of unforeseen form might become normalized, I do like to think we can do a lot to make more of our present cultural circumstances. I think there is something between RSS and API that could make music more exhilarating, and that’s kind of what Junto is for me. RSS can be seen as the steady flow of information in a linear fashion that allows for its wide, unintended dispersal. API can be described as the means by which a code-based system allows itself to interact with other code-based systems.
There is a reason why political blogs are exciting even if the individual posts are just ever-shifting bits of tea-reading and barometer-checking, because watching politics unfold in real time is fascinating, and watching a good blogger’s mind change in real time is intoxicating, like the best serial television can be. I think music has an opportunity to unfold in a more blog-like mode. Meanwhile, most of the major online commercial music apparatuses are just trying to make virtual record stores, and I think that’s a strategic error so sizable that “strategic” is an understatement; I just don’t know what is to “strategic” the way “strategic” is to “tactical.” Maybe I should just get comfortable with that hackneyed term, “paradigm.”
Anyhow, the future — OK, here I go, fool that I am — isn’t an online record store. It could be something else, something more fluid and ephemeral, with a sense of narrative underlying it. I think music in the not too distant future might relate to the concept of a record store like telephones related to the concept of a “visiting card” and automobiles related to the concept of a train schedule.