Monday, July 15, 2013

Kurt Hugo Schneider brings back the music

Rejoice. If you have no hopes left anymore for a musical scene that is taken serious by young people, let me tell you, there's light at the end of the tunnel. Kurt Hugo Schneider and his friends. Write down that name. Bookmark it. Look for it on YouTube. Finally I need not to look back in anger any longer, and try to musically survive on my memories of the 1970s and 1980s.

Let's face it. When your musical education goes back to the decades of long and high hair, too much make up and ridiculous clothes, you do know that the musical landscape was extremely diverse in those years. Anything went. Everything was possible and acceptable. No matter Manhattan Transfer or The Cure, David Bowie, ELO, Dire Straits, Bee Gees or Wall of Voodoo. Every musical taste was catered for. And here in Europe we had that wonderful music TV station, Music Box, that brought us almost anything you could musically think off. Cindy Lauper and Jimmy Sommerville, Brian Ferry and Tears for Fears. I better stop dwelling in the past.

But fact is, the dark ages of anonymous techno and dance music and the musical insults of indifferent Irish and Scandinavian singer-song writers has set upon us, leaving us behind in a barren musical desert. No voice to speak off, horrid lyrics and a general arrogant disinterest in the audience is hailed as musical milestones by a certain presumed elitist crowd. What has music come to?

From a musicians point of view, music can never be non-committal, in that respect that an artist has an obligation to his audience. I once asked a singer-songwriter how an artist can put his emotions into a song he has to perform over and over again. His answer was sobering: before he will perform a song on stage, he has rehearsed it so many times, that he can breathe the song, that it almost becomes its own entity. So that whatever happens during a show, whatever distraction may occur, he will be able to sing and finish the song without interruption. That's commitment. Not only to yourself as an artist, but to your audience as well. Alas, so many artists of today seem to have forgotten about this.

Check out Kurt's astonishing Coca Cola themed music video here:

Skill, voice, performance, self discipline, it all adds up to what we should expect. But that dedication is gone. But then my social media contact Mark Mitchell Brown shared a link to a YouTube video: an a capella cover of the Cup Song, apparently an popular song on the other side of the Atlantic. I was dumbstruck what I saw there. So much creativity and musical talent. Young enthusiast people, normal looking at that too. Directed and inspired by a young guy of Austrian/German descent, Kurt Hugo Schneider. He seems to be the center of an entire group of musical friends. His directing talents are downright awesome, so much creative intelligence at such young age. Take a look at his videos, often done in one single long shot, where he appears himself too every few seconds – which is an accomplishment in a video you direct yourself. I can not imagine the preparations and discipline that go into his work. Check out his videos and the music of his friends. There's musical hope, finally.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


A few dozen friends down the drain. Yes, I unfriended quite a few people. We are talking Facebook here obviously. It's not that I don't like these people. But there was no point. When there's no social interaction, why not get rid of the clutter on your wall? Or when people merely use Facebook to turn it in into one giant digital billboard, by constantly clicking on commercial pages, hoping to win a weekend in the country of a year's supply of dog food? Away with them.

If only it could be that easy in real life. Click a tab, and erase someone from your radar. Actually, I did so more or less, years ago. Like they say, you can choose your friends, but not your family. At some point I realized that the friendship with some members of my family was rather a one sided affair. Cousins who appreciated your companion, but gave nothing in return. Always having to take one or more steps down to communicate on their level. Emotionally handicapped? Social challenged? Intellectual limitations? I know, you can't blame people for the way they think and talk, there's not much you can do about it. But why then, why never any attempt from their side to take one step up in all those years? So, I gave in to that growing feeling of uneasiness, and cut them out of my social life.

And then there are those friends, who always talk about themselves, their work related problems, their health and their relations. Depleting your emotional reserves, parasatizing on your lack of assertiveness, because you do not want to hurt their feelings. But they fail to see you as a system of emotional needs and challenges who needs to be listened to as well. Those friends are gone.

Finally, we come to category three. The friends you can communicate with, who do show interest and sympathy, but only just as long as you are interesting to them. Because you are merely an ornament on the christmas tree of their social life. They feast on their extensive social network of presumed friends, it is what they think that gives them their status, it is how they want to be seen. But when something shinier and new comes along, you move to a lower branch, until it is just politeness that makes 'm look at you. And while they claim that social media are a lower form of interaction, they do not even show the smallest token of sincere interest – not even there where it would not cost them any sacrifice of their valuable social time.

You only need a few, very few, real good friends. I know people on social media that I have never seen, that show more interest in me, then all the people above combined. So, why bother to maintain all those relations face to face, when so many are shallow and meaningless?

I am a rock, I'm an island. It's one of Simon and Garfunkel's greatest songs. Just Google the lyrics, and you see what I mean. Cynic? Maybe. Sad? Why would that be? Just imagine. Wouldn't it be great to be emotionally self sufficient?