It’s a new year around these parts and I have a list of items that would drastically improve our musical situation in Toronto.
1) Young 20-something members of the media, cover more than the Indie scene.
I’m only trying to be a little flippant when I write this, and it really is in your best interest to listen – there are 20, maybe 30 people that care about your friend’s 3rd rate Diamond Rings knockoff. We have world-class musicians and bands in this city, they aren’t them. Some might have you believe that Toronto’s music scene is chock-full of insanely good Indie bands, it isn’t. It IS chock-full OF Indie bands, it’s just that most of them kind of sound the same as the group that played before them.
It feels like criticism has gone the way of screamo, although in this instance it’s a bad thing. If you want to be a writer or journalist or whatever, you need to be able to criticize too, and by propping up a band just because they have a cool hook or lick just doesn’t justify a glowing review. Drop the hype, wait until they produce something aside from a demo tape or EP and then give it a listen.
2) Let’s talk about hip-hop.
That’s right. We’ve got it and it’s good. Here’s a list of Toronto artists to look out for this year:
The Kid Famous
Hip-hop and Toronto have had such a love-hate relationship over the years that it’s comical to think we have such quality for such an alienated group. We treat Drake like a best friend when he’s in Toronto, the second he leaves so do our kind words.
It’s time we stop treating Toronto hip-hop like second class, it’s good. In fact, when you look at the originators in this group in the past few years, you not only have international mega-stars but some incredibly talented underground artists that, given a couple more years of development, will be making waves. The other thing to note is that a lot of these folks, they’re hungry, they want it more than you do. They’re creating the innovation you’ll be following in two years. Pay attention.
3) Musicians: Write music, not songs.
This has and probably always will be my biggest gripe when it comes to talented musicians. I’ve known so many with a Midas touch but the inability to write anything that sounds different than a re-hash of the music they grew up practicing. If you want to truly be successful you aren’t going to make it on looks anymore, you really need to learn to write. This is the biggest problem with the Indie craze right now, sure everyone has chops, but what is it that you’re doing to separate yourself from the crowd?
When you’re part of a music scene there is this incredibly strange double standard where pioneers are lauded. as they should be. When it comes to the followers though, they seem to get into this circle of self-congratulation, they put on blinders and think that slightly different fuzz on their guitar makes them unique.
It’s not the toys that make you unique, it’s the hammer used in the crafting of those toys that makes uniqueness. There’s no point in writing music if you aren’t willing to explore ideas outside of the crowd. It’s the true innovators that are often ostracized first and then accepted, sometimes it takes years to bring people to your viewpoint – are you willing to put in that time or will you blend in with everyone else?
Writing real, good music is hard, but the industry itself is hard. You either put in the time or get a real job and remember the time you spent in your twenties as a could have been. Be original.