ENCOUNTER: Founder’s Week

Naturally Heard
This, out of a ball,
from shells,
the sound of wind
calls us like kin.
Carols and perils--
hearing these feelings, 
classics or new,
This is all from my view.
It all means the same, 
and I say with no shame.
This is the sound of my music.

I wrote that poem as an English assignment in the eighth grade, and it ended up getting published in the local university’s art & literacy journal. Obviously, it was all downhill from there.

As you can see, I’ve always been fascinated with sound and the way the sounds guides your day along. I find meaning in what’s naturally heard; this is why sound distracts me. Every pin drop captivates my eardrums into trying to analyze it. I literally try to hear the feelings of every noise, so naturally I harnessed that skill into what I do at IndieBeat: seek the best sounds & listen closely to find the resonating (and sometimes visceral) meaning embedded deep within.

Yesterday I told you that playlists inspire a lot of what I do. I’m honestly not too sure what I meant by that. My best guess is that playlists are my attempt at narrating an idealized montage of my life, putting songs in conversation with one another in order to assemble my own stories of carols and perils. In other words playlists are not just lists of songs for me. They’re soundtracks to my emotional goals–a way to fixate my identity into a fictionalized moment in time. They’re blueprints that help design my creative pursuit.

The whole concept of building a playlist invigorates me. I don’t know about you, but for me crafting a playlist is pure strategy. Think about it. You’re envisioning the rock-opera of the next 45 minutes (or so) of your life…important stuff. You have to ask yourself questions to try to conquer dreaded feelings of aural boredom: what’s the setting? Who will these songs speak to? Why does this specific deep-cut make the shortlist? And then you may say to yourself, “my god, what have I done” (yes, a Talking Heads reference is always key).

Taking playlists this seriously is what fueled me to develop ENCOUNTER. The idea of ENCOUNTER came to me around the time I was reading Rob Sheffield’s memoir Love Is A Mixtape, where he begins every chapter with a curated track list of songs that inspired the memories he wrote about. At the time, I had also just discovered the podcast treat that is the Dinner Party Download. The show has a regular segment where they invite a musical artist to talk about 3 songs they would play at a dinner party.

With both serving as inspiration, I knew I had to come up with a similar feature since the concept was so genius to me–how DO artists experience the music they listen to, and what stories can become teased out by asking them about it. I wanted to feel how these artists encountered music.

So I set out to ask the musicians I work with, “what are your fondest musical memories?” and told them to format their answers by designing musical memory mixtapes.

For Founder’s Week, I now share with you an ENCOUNTER of my own, themed around my interest in alternative music. I chose these songs because they make me feel grounded in a tested time. They’re songs which capture the need to process my constant neurotic thoughts. They each share a sense of angst in their guitar elements, but they also carry a common theme: the relentless drive to endure hardships and to continue moving forward. Plus they’re all rocking anthems.

This playlist was a particularly hard one to craft, because just like IKEA furniture, I didn’t really follow the usual rules of assembly. There are not any deep cuts in here, all songs are from the 21st century (meaning my love of the 70s-90s is omitted for a later tale), and for once there’s not many indie artists on the list. Nonetheless it does provide an accessible, modern context to this passion project of mine, especially in moments such as my “creative blue-period” I spoke about yesterday.

Stream the entire playlist via Spotify below and read on to find out why I chose some the tracks.

Enjoy an ENCOUNTER with me, Josh Pineda.

Rooney: Holdin’ On

Rooney is a band that is near and dear to me. They’re one of the first groups my sister introduced me to, and I have many a vivid memory of seeing them live. There’s no doubt that their self-titled debut is by far their greatest record, but something inspires me with their indie-released third LP, Eureka. I have the California-inspired album artwork hung up on my wall, and even have adopted the title of this song as my personal motto. Robert Schwartzman sings about a moment of uncertainty: “I don’t why I’m here. I don’t know where I’ll go. If I don’t give it time, how can this garden grow?” But then he speaks about having to hold on because there’s nowhere to go but up. I’ve always had a connection to this song, because of that drive to move forward. Something I value is my ambition, and this song sparks that in me.

Kings of Leon: Molly’s Chambers

It was the mid 2000s and I was a tween. A VW Jetta commercial came on TV and I instantly knew that alt-rock would forever be my obsession. The song of that ad was this Kings of Leon staple. This was also about the time I was getting into modern California pop-rock like Rooney, Maroon 5 & Phantom Planet. I even had a Weezer Make Believe promotional poster on my wall leading up to the release of that album. I was essentially Will from Almost Famous discovering that there was a whole new avenue of music out there that was nothing like the overplayed, stale hits on the radio. To this day, I have a certain affinity for Nashville nostalgia-rock.

Grace Mitchell: NoLo

I sing in the shower. And when I say sing, I mean it’s almost like I’m on The Voice. I have no shame. This is my current shower song of choice. It’s what gets me through the day because the chorus is what I need in this weird tumultuous period of my life. “How do you know what the top looks like when you’re living on the bottom? … You gotta know know low, if you want to get high.” There’s honesty in Grace’s vocals, and frankly this song is fierce. It’s rejuvenating in its passion.

Sing Street: Drive It Like You Stole It

My favorite film of the year is Sing Street, and of course it’s an indie flick. It was one of the most cathartic films I’ve ever experienced watching a film in theatres. It motivated me to continue pursuing my passions. The plot focuses around a teenager who starts a band to get the girl, but it becomes much more that that. The cultural commentary on 80s britpop, early MTV music video culture and the Irish political dynamic is fantastic, not to mention its STELLAR collection of original songs such as this one. “This is your life. You can go anywhere. You gotta grab the wheel and own it, and drive it like you stole it.” Tell me those aren’t words to live by.

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