I find myself endlessly fascinated with musicians – and music – that I don’t like. In fact I often find myself more interested in them than in music I do like. While a lot of Wikipedia users will end up down some strange wormhole after continually opening new tabs that piqued their interest, I use it in a much more focused manner: I find a musical artist who I’m familiar with, and then read absolutely everything about them. I go through their discography chronologically. But more often than not, it’s an artist I’m not interested in, or even dislike.
Perhaps because I don’t have much knowledge about them, so they seem far more unusual and fascinating. After a while, the type of artists I’m familiar with become potentially predictable. But then I suddenly find myself thinking: “I wonder what the full discography of Yes is like.” I’ve read the Wikipedia entry for every Yes album. I might do a Yes YouTube session one day (I’ve listened to a huge slab of terrible ‘90s and ‘00s Simple Minds material on YouTube on more than one occasion, just from a fascination as to why this music was even made).
I once read about Limp Bizkit on Wikipedia. Every album. I really enjoyed reading about it. I never went through a nu-metal phase as a teen so I’ve never gained any pleasure from their music.
This probably ties in with why my own music can be hard to categorise. My record collection is surprisingly light on related artists. I have an absurdly large number of Tangerine Dream albums and a handful of Jarre ones, which is probably why I don’t own any Klaus Schulze, Ashra, or indeed any of the other Kosmiche/new age artists of the time. I don’t like getting an album that sounds too much like stuff I already own. Whenever I get obsessively into a sub-genre or a movement/scene, I end up selling two thirds of the albums I’ve bought six months down the line. I like every album I listen to be a completely unique experience, and if I own other albums that are very similar, it takes away from that. I’m the same when it comes to releasing albums: I hate putting out a record that’s very similar to a previous one. There’s no point.
The main thing I seek when I’m listening out for new music is: does this sound new to me (or: is this a really fucking good pop song?, but that’s a story for another day). I’m fascinated by music that seems new and different to me. Which is probably why I like reading about music I don’t like. There’s loads more to take in and learn, stuff about music and scenes and inspirations that I’m not already over-familiar with.
It doesn’t mean I end up liking the music any more, of course. But I feel like I’ve learned something and experienced something new.