Sunday, September 28, 2008

I am the DJ I am what I play / Last nite the DJ saved my life

Maybe you knew and maybe not (who is this you out there anyway? my 'loyal' readers or myself?) but I am designing the music at my new work place, Poppy.

The other night I was out at the bar and 'Underwear' (by Pulp) was playing on the sound system. One of the bartenders came up to me and told me that two gals screamed when it came on and proclaimed it to be their favorite song (Pulp fans tend to be ferociously loyal). This pleased me to no end. Then 'Underwear' came on (by the Magnetic Fields) and I remembered that I was listening to the Poppy playlist in reverse alphabetical order which is one of my favored ways of organizing a playlist. I like the imperiousness of chance rubbing up against a systematized organization method. It appeals to my chaotic tendencies and the aesthetics of violence or the potential in violence, the unexpected thing and the fallout around it, the reactions.

In essence, here I was, living the dream-- or my dream anyways-- of broadcasting a set of songs to an audience. And particularly in a restaurant where the music has a power to manipulate and shape an experience, much like the lighting, design of the room, service and food do. The sonic landscape helps create the architecture of the space. This speaks to the reasons that I love the songs in the title of this post so much. It is the DJ and somehow there is something unnameable that is being transmitted-- that needs to be transmitted. There is something in that message that has the power to potenitaly transform the listener. If the listener is open to it. I suppose I could add 'Musique Automatique' by Stereo Total to the mix.

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I had always intended to post about this woman who I discovered online during the long, cold Spanish winter. She has a channel on YouTube called artemisbell (search for it). I became fascinated with her and this channel which I started reading as new art. She is the object being transformed through music. Who knows what she is like in life (I love her real enthusiasm, genuine good spirit and optimism in the comments) but she appears through her work, the constant videos (same format each time, different, but repeating outfits, variations on dance moves) as almost crazed, compelled. Her performance mesmerizes. She often appears very close to the camera at the beginning of the video, dripping with sweat, before moving back to ease into the beginning of the song, picking up speed as the song does, often smiling, often mouthing the lyrics. These songs and words mean something to her that has brought her through pain, or loneliness (she is always alone in the videos-- it is as though no one in the world exists and only this room exists and there are these songs playing over a radio that she remembers from before, or is hearing for the first time, but somehow the DJ knows that she should hear them) and into health and joy. The amazing response that she gets in the comments is pretty impressive for a site like youtube, which are usually spiteful, mean, or trying to drum up a OMFGROFLMAO!! or whatever. It's sort of like the ultimate positive scene that disco or techno or whatever dance club genre can generate. But here it is in a serial form, self-contained and generated. Exhibitionistic, but driven, like much perfomance art or video art.

* * *

Maybe you all are like my listeners and this is my radio program, tinny and infrequent, in between two ticks on the AM dial. I have been thinking recently about Lynne Thigpen's role in "The Warriors" (You may know her as the chief on the kid gameshow "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?") and how the viewer saw nothing of her ever except her lips but how the listeners held on to her every word. I always thought it was mysterious how she knew exactly where the Warriors were and how every person (or more exactly gang member) in NYC listened to her and how they did what she said. It gave the impression that she was really pulling the strings, like a god. (Now I am reminded of the gods in "Clash of the Titans," another movie that I loved as a child, and the pieces they pushed around their playing board and how similar the psychic roles each of these characters play in each movie ultimately). Or the concept of asking for a dedication and waiting and waiting to get through to the DJ and then waiting and waiting to hear the song on the radio and how that gives you a little stake in it.