Mine was a little different than that
When I was a kid I didn't care so much about music at all. I was an usual kid loving japanese cartoons and Pokemon. I didn't have a lot of friends nd was always falling in love with some of them. I always crucified myself for that, so I used to create people to interact in my mind and I used to read a lot. Most of the kids of my age used to speak about Dragon Ball Z and card games and there was I speaking about the Clash of 29, September 11 and pretending Sailor Moon was my friend. I was downright weird.
Then, a cousin of mine started to go to some english classes. I really wanted to go, but my parents didn't have the money so I had to make up a way to learn english by myself. So, I dropped the reading and japanese thing and started watching more TV and repeating the words. Nobody asked me to write them down, so I just knew what they meant via subtitles and knew how to speak it. I was 8 years old, and I started to watch Friends by that age. I fell in love with all that: comic timing, New York, Coffee shops, Smelly Cats and most of all English. Most of my friends didn't like this, though, so I was excluded again. By the age 10 I could have fine conversations, basically all I did was speak to myself and do anything to think in english. I deduced grammar and other things from that and had the highest grades in English at school.
When I was eleven I started to write this short story called "How to Kill Your Grandmother in 10 Ways" that was a spoof of the god-awful film I watched at the time called "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days". So, a colleague of mine told me that the title reminded her of something that Avril Lavigne would write. "I had heard of this chick somewhere" I told her. So, I started to read about how she was the anti-Britney Spears and all that shit and I was like, "wow this girl might have something to say". A few days later I borrowed the "Let Go" record from a colleague and started to listen on the stereo. It was weak stuff. I remember liking a few songs, the soft ones like "Mobile" or "I'm With You" too, but I remember thinking how forced the rock out ones were. During these days, 2004-2005, Evanescence was a big band in Brazil - I believe that this rings true to other places of the world, too - so some friends of mine tried to convert me. I didn't like Amy Lee at all. Found everything way too forced, from artwork designs to the execution of the songs. These were reactions that I also had with other bands at the time like Linkin Park and Simple Plan.
When I was 12, a few singers went big and I jumped the bandwagon. First was Kelly Clarkson. I really liked the Since U Been Gone song, other Breakaway numbers - by then my favorite album ever - and had an incredible dislike for her hit song Because of You. There was Gwen Stefani too. I really liked Hollaback Girl and Cool, but I couldn't listen to those on repeat - once was enough. Two friends of mine used to sing and dance to Rich Girl, even though they were actually Poor Boys. My favorite was What You Waiting For? and I just loved the direction she was going with that, the wordplay, the music video. I was also infatuated by Kylie Minogue. Never thought she was that old, though. I liked the repetition of Come Into My World, I was so innocent that I used to spend hours trying to figure in my head how they did that effect. Didn't like Can't Get You Out of My Head, I much preferred Love at First Sight. Other people were also part of this gang: Michelle Branch, Vanessa Carlton, Jessica Simpson, Hilary Duff and Lindsay Lohan. My favorite one was - hold for it - Ashlee Simpson. I didn't care if she was lip syncing or if E! Channel named that moment the third biggest celebrity oops of all time, she just had it - personality, the nose, the lyrics, the fucked up voice. Then, I started to enjoy Christina Aguilera and that was a time that I cared too much about vocals, so, everything I previously liked I was starting to dislike.
I was 13 years old. I got tired of Xtina screaming at my ears 24/7 with her albums, got tired of Amy Winehouse, of Joss Stone. I got tired of everything. So one day I was surfing the channels looking for something, I went to one of those audio channels of DirecTV and something was playing there. I stopped and listened and wanted to get the name of the song and the artist. By now, it's no surprise that I only used to listen to female artists. I got it. It was "Why Can't I?" by Liz Phair. I wikipedied Liz and I was surprised to find out that she had more than thirty years old. "I thought she was 18!" So I decided to investigate her past. I stopped by Exile I Guyville and suddenly I see a 5 star review of allmusic, at the time All Music Guide, and I was surprised because I never thought they'd give this for something I had enjoyed - critics hated what I used to like and I knew it. I open Limewire and I download the tracks one by one. At the same time, a singer that I used to enjoy, Sara Bareilles is getting comparisons to Fiona Apple and I want to know who this reference is.
I listened to Exile in Guyville the day after and I it felt like being hit by a car in the best way possible. I was born again. There was this girl, raw, funny, delivery her lines in a cold, monotonous voice, like she didn't give a fuck. But I knew girls like her, I was a boy like her, in the deep there was fear, in the deep i give a fuck, in the deep I wanted letters and sodas instead of a one night stand. The lines were so striking. I downloaded her later material, but only kept her 90s records and Girlysound. Phair stroke a strong chord with me. On the other hand I was listening to Fiona Apple. Man, did she sound pissed about the world. I liked Fiona, she grown on me in a way I hadn't imagined. I needed more music like this.
Itunes gives the worst recomendations, so I went to Amazon. There was an unfavorable review comparing Liz Phair to PJ Harvey in the Exile In Guyville - by then, my favorite album ever. "Who this shitty Harvey is?" - I thought. So I found Rid of Me, first of all I laughed because the album as 4.5 stars in Allmusic, while Phair was a full beautiful 5 (ugh, I was such a kid...). I downloaded the record. The cover was strinking, It felt like she had hit me on my face. That look. and hair. I downloaded the title track. Started to listen to. "What the fuck? Where the fuck is the song?" I put it at the loudest volume possible on my stereo. Suddenly everything exploded! "Don't wish you, never, never met her?" No, I didn't. I started to love these records. I downloaded evety little thing by Polly. Because of these three i tracked Björk, then Tori Amos, then Kate Bush, then Joni Mitchell. In less than a year I was a convert fan of every acclaimed female singer/songwriter.
Then, I found AM. I was puzzled by the low positions of Fiona Apple and awestruck because this Joanna "Newsomenunddnjbdh" chick was ranking at number #2 (?) for 2006. I listened to Ys, disliked largely. I listened to The Milk Eyed Mender, disliked even more and what a weird gnome voice. One evening I was in the back of my parents car and out of nowhere the last seconds of Emily came into mind, I grabbed my iPod and listened on repeat for two days. I was hooked.
I was 15 years old. Had no idea why i never listened to male singers before. You know? I felt things about boys, but I just couldn't listen to their singing. Blame those trashy bands that people played when I was young. I thought all of them were emo or sexist. Girls were funnier because they were repressed, they were pissing on everyone's face and I felt like that. I felt trapped in a Christian home where I couldn't do what other kids did and I was repressed every single sunday morning by a Minister for liking boys being a boy. To listen to Tori Amos question about God was like finding a friend. My friends were still on the mainstream zone, but I wasn't. They used to listen to music through my iPod, so they noticed that my taste was changing. That I was becoming less Umbrella and more Court & Spark/Down by the Water. I had found out about AM at the very end of 2007-2008, don't remember the year. I decided to give a chance to a man whose record called Rain Dogs I had found in my cousin's room - who lives in Rio now. Tom Waits was his name. He changed my world, the way he sang the opening track was unlike anything else I had ever heard. So, I started digging more. Suddenly, I was listening to Dylan, to bands (from the 90s like Pavement and Radiohead, from the 80s like Pixies and Sonic Youth, from the 70s like Pink Floyd and Can and from the 60s like The Beach Boys and the Zombies). I was still on the cream of cop of critics and I went into far more obscure places and artists (AM, AM Forum Users, especially nj via Facebook, helped me a lot with that!). I also decided in 2009 to start following contemporary music and posting on the forum. Last year, I decided to invest more in arts in general reading about cinema, music, plastic arts. Now I have this challenge of crossing borders and listen to music from outside the big poles (US-UK-FR) -while not ignoring it. More than just listen to music, but understand the movements, the context, the story behind the creators I admire and stuff like this. On the way, I learnt to speak english, a little bit of spanish and french. My frustration with not being able to learn a language opened a door to my love for arts and for reading again - something I had abandoned by the age 11 to watch tons of TV and Celebrity gossips. While reading, I started to listen to jazz and fell in love with many early 20th century authors and mid century Jazz musicians.
My friends grew too. The ones that cared about arts, started to listen to music outside radio, though still mainstream - something I call neo-mainstream, blog hyped artists and youtube champions. They admire my efforts, they believe I trascended everything that was a barrier and instead of being a close minded person, I became the one who understand the most about a good of stuff. During 2009-2010 was trending around here to be bissexual/gay - among girls especially -, I never jumped in the bandwagon. I was never trendy and I felt that it was ridiculous to whom actually were. People just wanted to have some fun and do whatever they wanted to, but they actually were trying too hard do fit in, the cool crowd did it, so they wanted to do it - like smoke, and do coke or drink on the streets. There was a group of people trying to transform my hometown in Skins Brazil Version or a Warhol Factory. Never happened. They might have the clothes, they might have the image, they might have the drugs, but they lack everything else that made great art or local teenage scenes happen. I never wore a shirt of a band, i remember I went to speak to the leader of the group looking a mess and he had this great stamp, but the guy didn't understand shit: literature, music, cinema, nothing. He was as mainstream Hipster-Certified as you can get and nothing else. He tried to keep the conversation, but it was clear he didn't get a shit of what I was saying and I felt bad because usually the geeky one is the bad one on this kind of story - "he was trying to show off how much he knew! ugh!". That became a problem in my hometown, people overlied on image and I was getting disappointed throughout. They wore clothes of Warhol without knowing what he meant or anything about him except the word Pop Art and the photo of Marilyn Monroe. They would name drop Dali or Clockwork Orange or cult stuff without knowing anything about it. And honestly, people can get hostil when it comes to that. So, I'm really great friends with people that don't care about this stuff, but I tend to have problems with those others that fit the description I did. I always feel that there's more to learn, there's always something obscure going on somewhere and an interesting artist in the making, but many here felt they know everything - just by reading Pitchfork or worse: Rolling Stone. When we confront, it doesn't get nasty because I avoid speaking about arts these days. Some people have hold a grudge against me because of discussions or things that end up catalysing their competitive instincts, so I'm out of Facebook, out of Twitter, out of Lastfm, out of their reach and doing my thing on the corner.
“Art is the giving by each man of his evidence to the world. Those who wish to give, love to give, discover the pleasure of giving. Those who give are tremendously strong.”
― Robert Henri, The Art Spirit