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Whiplash (2014) Film Review

Warning: spoilers ahead

I’ve heard this movie receive a lot of noteworthy praise and buzz about as long as it’s been released to the public. Unfortunately it wasn’t until recently that I saw this film for myself. If I could sum it up in one word, I guess it would be “wow.”

I find this movie to have a lot of depth and the characters to have, well, character.

Let’s start with Andrew Neiman. A freshman at Shaffer Music Conservatory, “the best music school in the world.” Andrew is struggling to make his mark at school. He is a freshman first year. The movie spans over one semester of his freshman year in college. His talents are later discovered by Terrence Fletcher, a teacher who rules with an iron fist who leads a band full of the most talented and brightest.

Andrew is so determined to make his mark and impress his teacher that he sacrifices everything. Literally everything. His relationship with a girl he liked, his relationship with his family, his sanity and his health. Many times he is brought to the breaking point, if not by Fletcher then by his own pursuit and his unrelenting ambition.

Putting literal blood, sweat and tears into his craft we later see the fallout that happens between him and his teacher after a failed performance. This results in Andrew leaving Shaffer and Fletcher getting fired.

Andrew is utterly broken. He’s lost everything, the girl, his shot, and the school of his dreams. In one scene we can see him watching a video of him playing drums as a boy as he weeps tears while smiling. To me this means that he is looking back on when music was about having fun. To him now it was all a competition to be the very best at the risk of everything.

They later reconvene at a low-key jazz nightclub and Andrew agrees to do one last performance. Fletcher purposely deceives Andrew the moment he steps on stage. They play an entirely different number then the ones Fletcher said they would play. Now Andrew is looking like a fool, this was Fletcher’s way of saying “fuck you.”

Utterly embarrassed and without much he can do about it, Andrew storms off stage only to come back moments later. He completely takes the reigns of the band and leads them in song. This is Andrew’s “fuck you,” but to me more than anything it shows how much power Fletcher still had over him. Fletcher is not amused, until Neiman breaks out into a solo that lasts several minutes. Then the movie cuts at the end and we don’t get to see what happens next between them.

To me this was a perfect way to end it because it leaves you to come up with your own ending. How do you think things ended for Andrew? Hopefully well.

If anything this movie speaks volumes to anyone who specializes in any sort of craft, particularly an artistic one. What is more important? The soul of your work or trying to be so perfect so that you will gain respect and be admired as a result?

We can see a lot of Andrew’s ambition in the way he talks. He breaks things off with a girl because she will get in his way. He wants to be remembered. He will not settle for mediocrity or even good enough. Maybe that is why Fletcher took him on as a student. Searching desperately for his Charlie Parker. Maybe Fletcher wants to realize his own dreams through a student and is willing to do anything to get it.

I think this film is very good and musicians should see it. Not only musicians but anyone who has a creative craft that they may be struggling with or don’t know where they stand on it.

My rating is 4.5/5

Upcoming Artist Shares Emotional Experience With Fans

Deko is an artist out of the new wave that is seeing a meteoric rise thanks in part to his really successful song Phantasy Star Online. While Deko has been grinding for a minute, (working as a producer with credits to his name) his hit has put him on a lot of people’s radars including my own.

What caught my attention about this guy is his use of aesthetic appeal while still churning out infectious danceable beats and catchy melodies and bars. No wonder as Deko is a big fan of the very popular sub-genre of music: Nightcore (amongst other genres of dance music.)

His music videos are colorful, and filled with references to geek culture including many references to anime and Japanese culture.

It’s safe to say that he is at the forefront of a new sound that’s emerging in the underground. One filled with danceable beats, melodic flows, and many references to popular nerd culture.

That’s why last night was especially memorable. Deko was streaming on Twitch to about 100 viewers at the time. The stream felt especially intimate. The vibes were chill and everyone was having a good time. Deko took us through some of the projects he’s been working on. Which I won’t go into detail about to protect his privacy. He previewed one song in particular that absolutely stunned me.

Deko samples popular Japanese pop group Perfume for a banger that’s sure to be a hit.

Perfume (pictured above)
A-chan (far left), Kashiyuka (center), Nocchi (far right)

This blend of genres is something new and unfamiliar and somehow Deko manages to make it all work.

He later took us through some of his favorite music, featuring acts such as Perfume, Mondo Grosso, Porter Robinson, and an artist I’ve never heard before: VIRTUAL SELF. Fans in the stream got particularly emotional when Deko played some of the more sentimental songs amongst his favorites. Many fans recognized the music because they had already heard it and for those who hadn’t, they felt like they had stumbled onto something new.

Truly it was a magical moment for many, leading to many inspiring talks and rants. That is why Deko gets my seal of approval. The artist that knows how to genuinely connect with their fans can’t ever lose. This is the essence of a die hard fan base.

I for one can’t wait to see what’s next for him.

Artistic Apathy ©

Wya¿

I’m like a ghost.

Not appearing on anyone’s radar.

Insignificant.

I’m all alone, despite the illusions.

It’s just me. Blazing the trail alone.

I’m not an essential part of anyone’s life.

If I was gone tomorrow I doubt it would make any waves. Actually, I know it wouldn’t.

I’m not suicidal, I have no interest in dying. I have an interest in living. I’m just wondering when life is going to take an interest in me.

I don’t care about shit. All I care about is this art. As harsh as it sounds.

Nobody sees the real me. The person I could be. Not a soul.

Every day I wake up wondering if today will be the day. If something memorable will happen. But it never does. I’m re-living the same day over and over. What do I have to look forward to?

But still, I keep on existing. What else is there?

I shoulder it all alone. After all, who would care? No one really. It’s just me, again.

I don’t want to be famous, I don’t care about riches. I don’t care about things most people care about. I just want to live the life I know I’m meant to live.

But the brutal reality is the only thing standing in the way of that… is Me.

Swedish Soundcloud Scene

Above is artist Yung Lean or Jonatan Leandoer, member of the rap collective Sad Boys. Although their sound is mostly derived from Hip-Hop, the music of Yung Lean, Yung Sherman and Yung Gud is often very eclectic. Pulling from many different sources, giving off a sort of Björk-like vibe.

Yung Lean truly is an all-encompassing artist and with the help of two very talented producers he often brings forth a refreshing sound that’s hard to imitate.

Sad Boys and frequent collaborators Drain Gang are at the forefront of the Hip-Hop scene in Sweden, hailing mostly from Stockholm. With these groups, the overall aesthetic of the music they create is at the forefront of everything they do. Some, even going on to become models, and to design their own clothes. It’s all apart of the image.

The overall sound pulls from many different sources, but has mostly characteristics from Hip-Hop, Electronic and Pop. Although Yung Lean claims his style “has no father like an orphan,” his influences and style can go back as far as Chief Keef and rapper SpaceGhostPurrp. There was even this interaction between SGP and Lean:

True, the sound of these two groups, Sad Boys and Yung Lean is often very hazy, cloudy and druggy. That is why many believe Lean to be the father of Cloud Rap which was a scene he was very active in from the beginning. Although not known for sure who birthed this genre (as the lineage can be traced back very far) it’s no doubt that Sad Boys and Drain Gang have done a lot for Hip-Hop in general.

If you look on popular YouTube channel デーモン Astari, many of the artists featured have a similar look and feel that seems heavily influenced by the aforementioned groups.

Lean and cohorts only get more experimental as they go but I believe their sound is becoming the future and they are spearheading something very monumental here.

Imagine That

I had a conversation with a friend about being in confinement and how we were coping. He told me that imagination was the only thing getting him through. I replied with “imagination can only get you so far.”

I don’t know why I said that because it’s obviously not true.

When we are down and defeated, we imagine a better future so it keeps us going. Fortune 500 companies had to start out as a thought first. A concept, or imagination. Everything is conceived in the mind and then later brought into fruition through willpower. We imagine a better life for ourselves so it causes us to go out and seek that. Sometimes we even get the life we imagine by chance.

So really, I think imagination is powerful. Insert the quote by Albert Einstein somewhere in here:

Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”

– Albert Einstein, physicist

Without imagination, those little sweet moments… the completely uncalled for, the spontaneous… the things that make everything worthwhile, would cease to be.

Music would cease to be. So many things, disappear.

So I’m going to appreciate my imagination more. For that is where my creativity comes from, and forms the basis of my identity.