Updated: Jun 15, 2021
One of my favourite rappers named Propaganda penned the title of this blog. He opened one of his songs with the line "...art for your heartache, art for art's sake" and that line seems to have found me here, perhaps 4 years after first hearing it.
Recently one of my good friends (who happens to be a songwriter) went through emotional trauma. She found solace and comfort in being able to translate her pain to the paper/her voice/the music - as do many sonic art-makers do and we debated a little on this topic. She was grateful to the pain she endured for the music she was able to make as a result and honestly this idea gave me a feeling of masochism that I couldn't shake.
I've always struggled with this idea that we should say thank you to the pain for our musical satisfaction. Perhaps because of consumerism/capitalism I can admit that it feels like artists get rewarded for their pain and as a result must stay there in order to stay relevant to their audience (think Mary J. Blige, Adele, Sam Smith, Amy Winehouse, Chet Baker). In the process we as the audience vicariously live through them except we let them do the talking, the drugging and the long-term stressing.
Whilst I have felt my own emotional grief over the past few months (and have, hypocritically, written some work I'm proud of as a result), I still loathe the notion that my best is owing to my worst. What does that say about the society I live in and do I want to be part of it?
Honesty at its most fearful.