Why do I like music?

Radiohead - Karma Police

Maybe it's nurture? I don't think so. Since when I was a child, my parents loved their music. They listened to old Telugu and Hindi songs, which some modern ones mixed in. I absolutely hated them, and still dislike their music. It all sounded the same to me, and I don't think that's me being shallow and closed-minded. All the songs used the same instruments, same scales, same tempo, and the same percussion. The only thing that changed were the lyrics, and they espoused either conservative or boring traditional Indian values that went against what I believed in. The lyrics included content that upheld caste and gender inequality, Indian patriotism, ageism, and religious hierarchy.

Since my media consumption during my childhood was strictly controlled, and YouTube was the boogeyman, I had a warped definition of music. Music was the stuff my parents listened to, and I hated it. Therefore, I hate music. Indian music also came with dance, which I often found ridiculous. Actors would randomly start dancing in the middle of nowhere. The songs were often excuses to sexually objectify the lead actress, who often played no role in the plot and was probably just hired to look attractive. My distaste for music was soon coupled with a distaste for movies once I started to understand what those moving pictures actually meant.

Radiohead - Climbing Up The Walls

Books played the role of being my means of escape. As a child, I didn't demand for much entertainment, so my parents bought me books to spend my free time. These books were encycleopedias and world record books to which I can attribute my love of science to. I had an obsession with learning more about the natural world, specifically the field of zoology, and soon became an expert in random facts about all mammals. The tiger became my spirit animal (and still is!). I probably spent a year of time reading those books. I read them while eating, while on the bus to school, during boring classes, before sleeping, before studying, after studying, etc. Anytime I wasn't at a computer, I would have been found in front of a book.

While books provided me a great way to spend my time, they didn't help for the emotional problems of a young child. Whenever I felt angry, insecure, or scared, reading a book did nothing for me. I wasn't distracted, I wasn't comforted, and they sometimes made things worse. Reading about dangerous bugs or bad people did not make me less scared or angry. If it wasn't for badminton and biking, I think I would have imploded. Physical activity was great, but I didn't find it very entertaining. I don't remember what I did to calm down after I was angry. I recall having anger issues and being reduced to tears quite easily. I had a lot of repressed emotions with no outlet. Books were an intellectual outlet, but did not help emotionally. Even when I was allowed to read fiction later, I found the plots interesting, but never identified with the characters personally.

I had the reputation of being a 'good' kid. My parents, whatever initially worries they had, stop caring too much about what I did. I got good grades no matter what, stayed respectful, and obeyed orders. Around 6th grade, I had free rein to do whatever I wanted. I did nothing with this freedom, as mentally I was still chained. I never really followed my parents boundaries, as I had found ways around them, but I only used those powers to talk to penpals, who were other kids like me. Then I switched schools.

I had an exceptionally long summer break that year, I think it spanned around 5 months. I had a laptop. My parents had other things to do. I had an unlimited internet connection. I finally checked out this YouTube thing that my friends talked about. This music on the frontpage, it was pretty good. Odd, I like this... music? I downloaded some Rihanna, Calvin Harris, Maroon 5, and Lady Gaga. What did all the songs have in common? Unintelligible lyrics and electronic instrumentals. I still find lyrics to be very hit or miss; Most are very shallow, or sometimes problematic. I appreciate vocals, but often not the poetry associated with them.

Avicii - Levels

I was describing my new found interest in music to a penpal, and he... made fun of me? It was all in jest of course, but he disregard most of the songs I had sent him as boring and told me to check out Avicii if I liked Calvin Harris. So I listened to Levels, one of his most popular songs and stuff was never the same again. Listening to the song now doesn't do much for me, I don't even get a sense of nostalgia. It's a bit repetitive and mix is overly compressed. I appreciate the orchestral elements, but he could have done more. Back then however, minimal lyrics, thumping beats, and a completely different 'formula' from the music I was used to got my hooked. I listened to the song on repeat for an entire month and decided that I liked these electronic sounds. I was exposed to other instruments during my guitar classes and the music of my friends, but these sounds were something unique that I had discovered myself. Music became something very personal to me. I tried getting some of my friends into electronic music, but it failed miserably. They were on the hip hop hype train which begun that year. I couldn't stand the lyrics, and decided that I was going to renounce lyrics (quite a rash decision for a young art consumer). Pop music had stupid lyrics, hip hop had dangerous lyrics, and indie / alternative rock, even with it's interesting lyrics, was too slow for me.

I needed fast paced music and epic crescendos. My volume was almost always maxed. I used music as a way to escape into a different world. The gradiosity of it gave me some semblance of meaning I guess. I didn't have many close friends and didn't like anything my parents did. Music in a way was my best friend cause it understood me.

As school started, I was in a better place. I found multiple close friends, and they somewhat shared my taste in music. Sharing music was a pretty important social activity to me, and my friends opened my doors to a lot of different genres. I was introduced to Tycho and tropical house by one and hardstyle and dubstep by another. My tastes were diversifying and grew a little 'stranger' everyday. My parents decided that my music wasn't 'music', and I disliked everything that was on the radio (along with the adverstisements it was coupled with).

deadmau5 - October

You see, around 10th grade, I started to learn more about the world around me and the injustices faced by people. This knowledge, coupled with teenage hormones and my general tendency to 'explode' resulted in anger issues. I would get angry at the smallest accidents and judge people for every tiny thing they did. I would never express this anger physically of course, cause I was really good at controlling it. How did I control it? Music, of course. Listening to fast paced music is a bit tired to be honest, and it calmed me down. I sought out heavy and black metal to serve that purpose. I was very much aware of my issues, so I took special care to not get too angry and hurt those around me. Without music, this would have been impossible. You see, I had no productive outlet for my free time. I possessed all this energy, and nothing to do with it. So I began meticulously collecting and organizing my music, a hobby that continuous on to this day. I spent months tagging all my songs with the correct metadata, and attached the right cover art.

For summer break, my parents decided on a tour of Europe. I don't really remember much from that trip except for a moment outside a nightclub in Norway. Bergen was a very blue city, especially at night, and I overheard a song from deadmau5 that I thought was absolutely gorgeous and perfectly reflected the concept of the color blue. I recorded the song, and when I got back to the hotel tried to SoundHound and Shazam it but to no avail. After days of googling specific musical features of the song, I had found it just before boarding an airplane back home. It was Strobe, by deadmau5. On the yellow street light lit journey in my parents car from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, I recall staring at the world outside me and tearing up while listening to it. There was something beautiful and inspiring about every beep-boop :) I'm incapable of describing how music makes me feel, but I was a changed person after than moment. I was less angry and more caring.

The xx - Reconsider

Yet I was scared of harming others. I had ended my high school years accidentally hurting my closest friend and fell into a blue spell. My music always had a melancholic tinge to it, but it wasn't helping me feel better or alleviate my guilt. I need new forms of creative works. I found peace with post rock. It gave me hope and a chance at a new beginning. These were months of uncertainty about who I would be as a human being and a citizen of the world if I couldn't even keep my friends happy. Music helped me answer those, and to that, I was thankful. I tried new genres, happier music, more eclectic music, and found them all entertaining.

Sigur Rós - Brennisteinn

Nothing much has happened after that. Music has become one of the art forms that reminds me of my reason for existence. Maybe I like it because of the large role it played in my life. Maybe there's something aesthetically about it that just clicks with me? I don't know. Movies, books, or poetry don't quite do the job. I guess this is a mystery that I'll still have to explore.