Shoegaze Shows Music is Greater Than Just a Scene
A lot of times when I write about music- or anything in general- I feel like I’m writing as a character, not as myself. Rather than just typing in the way that I would speak to you, I feel like I have to add some flashy elements to my words so that people are entertained or at least willing to read them.
What I’d like to do now is take off this costume. I’d like to take off the mask and simply speak to you through these typed words rather than feel like I have to entertain you or somehow sell you on music or just whatever the intentions ever are for writing anything.
Then I heard about a month ago that Danny Lackey, one of the people behind whenthesunhits, had died as a result of cancer. This made me feel something I hadn’t felt in a very long time: sad. I can’t remember the last time I was sad because I usually don’t let anything affect me, at least not in that way.
The events that would transpire after this were nothing short of amazing to me. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an outpouring of a single community before, let alone a musical one. So I wrote down some of my thoughts about what was going on, sent them to the people in charge of the Fund For Danny Lackey, and they sent me some responses. I was going to chop this all up and make it into more of an article than a Q&A, but I just think it’s best to see it for what it is with both questions and answers. I feel it is the most honest and direct way to understand this situation from my point of view and, well, hopefully it can touch you as much as it has touched me. Enjoy.
Josh: Were you surprised by the amount of support you received from the artists? I remember when there were seemingly only a few songs and then all of a sudden it just got really huge really fast. And they're pretty big name bands doing tracks here as well (Personally, Shana Falana and Music for Headphones are amongst my all-time favorites) Or is it more of a "Hey, where the $#%& is [this band]when we need them?" type of vibe?
Kim: It started out as a, “Hey, let’s do something” idea. It took us a couple of days to organize the Bandcamp page, but once we put the word out, it snowballed from there. It seems that everyone in the community knows somebody, and they know somebody, and they know somebody… so we were able to reach and get some really fabulous tracks. Plus, Danny was and IS such a prominent figure in the online shoegaze scene—is there anyone that DOESN’T adore him? The community pulled together last year too when we heard they needed to travel an hour each way to the hospital for treatments. Many artists/bands put up songs and donated sales to Danny and Barbie, and there were also a couple of auctions where bands could donate products—there were all kinds of cool things, from vinyl, to guitars, to pedals—just really cool stuff. Everyone knew that a beloved member of their community was struggling, and came out to help.
Josh: For me, music has always been a very important part of my life. For reasons too complex to fully divulge into, I really do not feel like I have a home in the sense that I'm not a Texan or a New Englander-- it's why I don't mind as seeing myself as a nomad, a gypsy if you will. The one place I've always felt at home though is either with my headphones on or at a dirty bar listening to live music. Do you feel like this project has also somehow enhanced the idea that music is really much bigger than all of us and rather not just some form of art and communication but rather a community and a living, breathing, entity? You have to think of people from all around the world- possibly never even having so much as messaged Danny on Facebook- being affected by this.
Kim: You know, yes, I suppose that’s true. The four of us who started this were thinking of Barbie’s immediate need because we were all close friends. The community is pretty tight-knit and has always thrived on the friendships within it; all of us sort of know we’d have very little audience for our OWN music without the relationships we’ve built. It’s never been a place where people who show up and drop their music and then never interact will ever really thrive. People like Danny kept that very necessary interaction going. The music “business”—if we can even call it a business!—is not so much about writing a great song and then BOOM, you’re golden. We enjoy the process together, all of us. So what has happened with this fundraiser effort is that even people who didn’t know Danny see a group of people with so much love for one of its own, and it’s neat, you know? They see people reeling from the loss of one of their family members, and that hits home.
Josh: I can sometimes think of myself as a "big picture" kind of thinker, but I like to consider myself more of a muse than anything else. Would there be any plans to do something with these songs in a physical sense, such as vinyl? I know I'd be first in line to purchase either vinyl or cassettes if the opportunity presented itself. Additionally, I think it would be most awesome if a number of bands who contributed tracks got together and booked a tour, raising money for it as well. They could even sell records at the shows! It'd be like the Take Action Tour only with shoegaze bands and the fact that I really don't know what Take Action donates their money too any more. Ultimately, if the tour continued forever, money could even be directed toward other charities.
Kim: So many cool ideas have been presented. Do vinyl! Do a physical CD release! Do a fundraiser show! Again, this is really a fresh wound, and our first concern was making sure Barbie was taken care of so she has time to heal without worrying about the financial strain. We’ve talked about how this might grow, but we also want to be respectful of Barbie and give her that time to heal, because whatever happens in the future, we’d need her to be a part of it. I, for one, love the “big picture” concept and think it would be cool to grow this into a charity in Danny’s name someday. For now, we’re putting all of our energy into this Bandcamp, because it really is special. Something like 90 tracks have been submitted for sale!
Josh: The first time I was introduced to the genre of music known as shoegaze was via When the Sun Hits by downloading one of the compilations, which introduced me to Music for Headphones, The Consolation Project, bloody knives and just so much more great music. Would it be accurate to say that WTSH is the essential blog dedicated to shoegaze and dream pop? Even if I just happened to be introduced to shoegaze first by WTSH, I still may call it the "most essential" blog, haha!!
Kim: Is it OK for me to call it the “most essential” because two of my good friends founded it? Seriously though, how many blogs do you see that have such a good, well rounded promo scheme? They’re ACTIVE. They don’t just blog and then post, “Here’s our new blog entry.” They share new music daily on their Facebook page. They visit the various forums and hang out. Amber does the When the Sun Hits radio show with a cool chat room feature. I mean, they work it! There are a lot of good blogs that feature shoegaze, but I haven’t seen one so actively involved in all aspects of the scene like WTSH. To be sure, they’re a fantastic model for others out there. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say that without Danny, Amber, and When the Sun Hits, my own bands would have only a fraction of the audience we’ve enjoyed.