How I Became a Katy Perry Sympathizer

Currently making the rounds on Facebook is this parenting blog post about our responsibility to teach kids about “good music.” Or, as the title states: “How to Talk to Your Kids About Their Shitty Taste in Music.” It’s a weakly argued call to arms in reaction to the whole VMA/Miley Cyrus twerking debacle.

What a load of hipster-douchebag crap. My retort: How on earth did your kids get exposed to this “shitty” music in the first place? Pro tip: don’t leave your kids in front of Disney XD all day, or they will think music is meant to be overly synthesized, un-artistic pop.

I’ll admit, pop music is heavily marketed to our young people. Whether you realise it or not, a lot of money is spent on product awareness — that’s the music biz. What is on the album takes back seat to the mysticism or hype built on what you think is going to be on the album. You already know what to think and feel, before hearing a note. That is marketing.

If done well, the potential audience will be worked into a frenzy. So let’s get accountable for our actions: instead of pointless, complain-ey blog posts, why not get our mom-and-dad brains into the game? The question should be: Are your kids getting caught up in marketing? Do they know what marketing is? Do you know what marketing is? Do you understand the intersection of marketing and the arts?

Few people, including most people who work in the music biz, care to understand this concept. They willfully ignore it, and gleefully get caught up in it. And, so, our kids follow suit. New Arcade Fire anyone? Gawd, white people — adults, even — are SO PUMPED about their new album. It’s exhausting.

So when my 8-year-old daughter decides her favourite singer is Katy Perry, what do I do? Is Ms. Perry a suitable role model, considering the mainstream options? Is anybody? Or is this an opportunity to impose my jaded, post-feminist, post-indie rock opinion?

In my mind, my daughter must make her own decisions. If I listened to my parents, I would only like Kenny Rogers and 80’s Tina Turner. Our kids must create themselves for themselves. Our job is to give them a loose set of rules, parameters inside which to make good and positive decisions. When my kid asks to listen to “the radio” in the car — which inevitably means Top 40 dance pop stuff — I abide. We listen. I tell her to listen for the sidechain compression, the auto-tuned vocals, the recurring use of beats and fills, arrangement structures that are copied form song to song. I want her to listen with her brain, unhindered by any marketing message.

Point being, life is a perpetual learning experience to be enjoyed. This is the main lesson I teach my children, and happens to be my prime directive. Most music, yes, is shit. Katy Perry balances on the razor’s edge of being a mega-YOLO-slut (ever listen to the lyrics to “Last Friday Night“?) and being a young, powerful, inspiring woman with an incredible voice. RAZOR’S EDGE, PEOPLE.

So sure, we’ll watch the “Roar” video on YouTube together. We did that with “Gangnam Style,” too. Trendy music will ebb and flow, but it’s those times when we’re walking home from school and my daughter is humming “Ring My Bell” by Blood Sisters that I feel a tinge of redemption.

This entry also appears on HuffingtonPost.ca

New Blog in Which I Extol Montreal’s First Maker Faire

Lately I’ve been obsessed with today’s musical climate. Too long have I agonized over this sentiment, trying to reconcile whether “it’s just me” or if music has evolved into a new beast with unusual behaviours I no longer understand.

As is well documented on my blog, I feel as though apathy has taken over music, especially in “indie” rock. And although I must continue to conduct myself within the music industry’s walls, I am merely moving about its hollow carcass as a means to an end. So instead of continually raging against the music machine, or, alternately, risking being that crusty old hipster at the back of the dubstep show, I will put it out of my mind. Modern music, I am done with thee.

As a result, I have turned my mind to creativity on a global level. What keeps me going is the knowledge that people are still putting their souls into things. How do I know? Because it is in our human nature to create, it is what separates man from beast. Except maybe these guys.

I’ve found a new creative optimism in technology and the wonderment of science. Undoubtedly fraught with its own demons of commercialization, to me the tech world still wears a virginal shroud, an unpretentious Eden yet to be explored. Programming, artificial intelligence and robotics are elements that represent, to me, the possibility for expression and reflection of humanity in infinite ways. Not to mention space exploration. It’s partially why I’ve started writing fiction, specifically speculative fiction: for the creative freedom.

How do I jump from there to here? From music to tech, in one simple step? I’m not sure I can answer that, but as a mother of a seven-year-old with another along the way, the future is, quite simply, more meaningful. Dare I say, more relevant?

Next weekend I’ll be taking my family to Montreal’s inaugural Mini Maker Faire. Having followed some of the activities at the flagship Maker Faires, I am beyond pumped to go. Labelled as a “festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness,” I can only imagine the range of ideas — from crafts to Arduino-controlled machines — individuals catering to their imaginations and simply creating for creation’s sake.

For a long while, music was fun, an exploration. But somewhere along the way it became a one-dimensional business that lost its naïveté. I long for those carefree days, but know it will never be 1998 again. In our current tech-drenched world, storytelling and expression exist in a multiverse. And as music continues to evolve, I can rest easy knowing that there is a place where I can continue to to the same.

Upcoming Canadian Faires:

Montreal Mini Maker Faire (Parc Olympique): August 25 & 26, 2012

Calgary Mini Maker Faire (East Village Riverwalk): September 8, 2012

Ottawa Mini Maker Faire (Shopify Lounge): October 13 & 14, 2012

This post also appears on the Huffington Post.