Thursday, December 18, 2014

I'm Not a Fan

Backstage access rocks!
Just the other day, a well-known MC, Kanetic, posted a picture of us together on his Instagram with a caption that read "As an Artist, one shouldn't consider someone who likes their music a 'Fan', but rather 'Familia'." My initial reaction was to go into shock upon seeing the word "fan" mentioned in reference to myself but then I realized he was saying what I have always felt, that I'm not a fan. I'm part of the music machine that promotes and keeps my favorite types of music genres alive and in business. Yes, we are family.

I'm always taken back to that scene in the movie Almost Famous that explains it perfectly:

Penny Lane: We are not Groupies. Groupies sleep with rockstars because they want to be near someone famous. We are here because of the music, we inspire the music. We are Band Aids."
And this: 
William Miller: "That groupie"? She was a Band-Aid! All she did was love your band. And you used her, all of you! You used her and threw her away! She almost died last night while you were with Bob Dylan. You guys, you're always talking about the fans, the fans, the fans; she was your biggest fan, and you threw her away! And if you can't see that, that's your biggest problem. And I love her! I love her!

So maybe no band member is proclaiming their love for me or my fellow music-supporters to this extent but those of us that take our music seriously don't mess around when it comes to who we follow and engage with in person, at concerts, and of course, social media. I'll drop my money on the actual CD and get it autographed and maybe buy some merch I'll never use like those boxy, tight collar boy t-shirts that make me look like SpongeBob---square and unflattering---or that bumper sticker I'll never plaster all over my car just for the sake of supporting the band and their work. I'll go see a band that doesn't rise to my standards if it's free and there's cheap booze but I have no problem supporting those groups that put all their heart and soul into their art form. Call me a music snob. I do and am proud of it. 

Music has been a huge part of my life ever since I was a kid and learned the words to Juan Gabriel's No Tengo Dinero and thought Vicente Fernandez was my dad because they both rocked the sideburns and brillantina in their hair. My brother Gonzo and I were in the school district mariachi and I went on to join the band in middle and high school. We even made some decent money gigging around town. My friend Jeanette and I had a love of classical music in middle school. We were such nerds but cool nerds because we loved Mozart's Requiem, the rock song of the genre. When I moved to LA, I was surrounded by working musicians and often hired bands for whatever cultural non-profit I was working for at the time, mainly Latin bands doing salsa or alt rock. In fact, I'm back working with musicians in my current position in San Antonio. I'm very comfortable here. These are my people. Music is my first love. Art is a very close second. History and culture are right up there too. Combined, this is my world and it makes for a very exciting and inspiring life. This is why I take my music and musicians seriously. I have songs that represent certain times in my life and when I connect to a lyric or an emotion in the music, it's magic. You know the feeling. 

My favorite part of living in a musical world is understanding the reason for it. I like to look at the big picture and see where a certain artist or genre fits into the historical timeline. What is happening in the world that influenced this artist to write songs. What is everyone working on at the time? Happy cumbias or sad dreary distortion? Are the lyrics about a social cause or pretty butterflies floating in the wind? Did you know that Gene Autry rose to fame with his happy go-lucky songs during the Great Depression? Why? Because everyone was so sad and, well, depressed, that they needed an escape, something happy to get their mind off their troubles. This is the genius of music. It alters your mood. It makes you think. 

The worst part of being a music lover is discovering an artist when their obituary comes out. I hate it. Where was I that I didn't know about this person? I should know about everyone, right?! Yes, it's an obsession. So please don't call me a fan. Call me a music snob, music lover, a promoter and sometimes the band's publicist or pretend tour manager just so they can put me on their guest list, go backstage, and get our selfies on. Yes, the bands and musicians do appreciate the support and are humbled by your vote of confidence in their music. It's a reciprocal relationship. I live and breathe music and I will drop an artist if they do something stupid that doesn't align with my beliefs about the world. I won't admit that I do listen to pop music on commercial radio or that I need to take a heavy dose of Swiftamine (see video below) now and then. We all fall victim to Taylor Swift onset vertigo. Admit it! But yes, I do support independent labels and artists. It's the accessible artists that I prefer. I may never meet the Red Hot Chilli Peppers or Metallica nor Nikki Minaj. They're in a good place making their money. Following them and buying up all their merch and expensive concert tickets makes one a fan and that's all well and good but for me, I rather be familia.