Embracing the Superficial

by Fair Heart

Embracing the Superficial by Fair Heart
What parts of yourself do you hide away? Out of guilt, fear, uncertainty, or anything else, there are always tiny dreams and memories we hide from others. Yet, these secrets show us who we are if we dare bring them to light. Through music I created and discovered things hidden in me. I’ve been working on finding the courage to accept those things and make them real again. This has inspired my songwriting work so far.

Listen to the EP while reading the text.

I wanted my first recording project Night Folly to explore the relationship between music fans and their idols, if I should even call it a “relationship”. My understanding of this relationship, or rather misunderstanding, stems from experience; that is my own adolescent music obsessions.

Teenage friendships and memories

I will spare you all the details outside of these: I ripped out pages of a magazine, all long lists of each The Jonas Brothers’ favorite things. I made my mom take them to Staples to be laminated so I could learn the information and keep them forever. A few years later, one handmade Justin Bieber collage covering the back of my door, another above my closet, and another covering my entire bedside wall, all crafted with cut magazine images big and small. And some years later, a very public emotional collapse when my dad’s car broke down on our way to a Jake Bugg concert.

From ages ten to about nineteen I lived my life in a chaotic focus, in overwhelming romances with young male music idols. Dreaming of them every minute. Escaping to their faces and voices after school. I placed a lot of merit in proving my dedication as a fan on social media and to my friends and family. It was naive, dramatic, and unrealistic, but none of that mattered.

I made the best friendships and the best memories. There was joy in my heart when I met all the close friends I have today. This was a joy sparked from connecting as fans, singing songs together, and traveling to new places for concerts. I was aware of my frequent ridiculous behavior. There is always resistance to groups like The Jonas Brothers or someone like Justin Bieber and all their screaming fans, especially from the music community. They are viewed as unacceptable, the antithesis to “real” music.

I judged myself as much as anyone else. Knowing I was not a victim of anything or anyone, the emotions just felt strange. I participated in the mania and the emotional ups and downs while knowing it was childish. I understood the superficiality of the thing, but it was like I was compelled to do it anyway.

Enveloped in the superficial

Gradually, I felt confused. I found meaningful relationships while enveloped in the superficial. I listened to “acceptable” music too, the music my parents showed me, like The Beatles (with their manic fans like me!), Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac, and Michael Jackson among others. Also, my older brother’s music, like Radiohead. I even found other music online I loved, like Bright Eyes. Even with these artists I obsessed over their personal lives.

I didn’t want to be unacceptable for loving contemporary pop music, being obsessive, or crying over Justin Bieber. That part of me is superficial as much as it is genuine. I wanted to embrace it because it means something to my identity and is part of my relationship to music. And this embrace helped me address an even deeper conflict.

A letter from my childhood heart

To write original songs was always my secret dream. Deep in my closet is a large binder from when I was twelve. The binder is filled with notebook paper chronicling the discography of an imaginary pop star named Ali Played (I don’t know why that was her name), my alter-ego. From titles, track lists, to guest features, I imagined what it felt like to make full, thought-out records and have a music career. I wrote this all out and added to it like a promise to myself, a letter from my childhood heart. I hide my dream to create for years.

As I got older, I taught myself to play guitar and started to write songs. It was then I wondered if I would ever be allowed to be a peer to artists I love knowing my unacceptable past. I wondered if that even mattered.

Of course, artists are fans of each other’s work and have personal relationships with each other, but my role was always to become too personal with artists and to be proud of that and to identify with it. Worse still, I was in a position where I didn’t actually know them at all, a fan. Really, it’s creepy and in a lot of ways a waste of time. My relationship to music became complex. It was two things at once: fulfilling and unfulfilling.

Night Folly

I wondered if being a fan would eventually leave me empty if I ignored making my own recording projects real. I wrote and recorded on an iPod touch tons of little songs and ideas, I listened back to them, changed them and edited them. That way, I slowly and secretly formed the songs now on this EP. I knew it would never be real, never published. So I barricaded myself from ever identifying as a “real” artist. Six years later, as I was finishing recording this EP, I even started to reconsider how much my relationship to music as a creator or a fan really matters. These are the questions I ask myself today.

These ideas characterized my youth, and maybe this behavior is only a symptom of youth. While searching for an identity, young people are vulnerable to heavily marketed pop stars, after all, they are the target audience. I wrote Night Folly based on these ideas and emotions because it has been a very real experience for me. I hoped the subject would be unique and interesting. Although I don’t think the project holds the answers I’m looking for, the story told in the album is the story of how the album was made. Its mere existence defies all odds in my relationship to music.

I believe in listening to and writing the music you want to hear. Now that this project is finally living outside of me, I have hope that accepting and exploring every part of myself through songwriting will lead to an invaluable and genuine state of understanding. I also hope others are inspired to let their inner voice sing.

Instagram

EP
Corning, New York State, Upstate New York, Upstate, Southern Tier, Central New York, Big Flats
Folk, Folk-Pop, Alt Country, Pop, Singer-Songwriter
Fair Heart, DIY, independent music, Pop

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