What Music Means To me

What Music Means To Me: Dean Ridgeway

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Our good pal & former Hook writer, Dean Ridgeway, recently rose from the ashes to remind us why he’s amazing, why he likes music, and most importantly, what music means to him!

Check it out below!

Dean Ridgeway (Musician/Writer):

Music means a lot, obviously. But to me, music has always been a shorthand for energy, for communicating direct feeling and tone. As a kid, I was convinced that I wasn’t a fan of music. I wasn't into any bands or anything like that. But what I did listen to was movie music, because I watched a lot of movies. John William’s scores for Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Superman, and Star Wars. The music in those movies provided you with a way to feel the way the movie wanted you to feel. It was dynamic and full of emotion to enhance any moment. And you always knew what emotion to feel, and it controls you with simple composition. Someone wrote that! And I cry when the Superman motif happens! Like, what?! Music is an enhancement of storytelling. Music fills in the emotional gaps of an experience like water in a jar of rocks.

I eventually expanded into listening to other kinds of music. There are so many types of experiences and genres to explore, I was bound to get interested in a few of them at some point. But the whole concept of “music as emotional shorthand” stuck with me. Structuring playlists, set lists, and moment-to-moment music are some of my favorite hobbies. I get goosebumps when the right song hits at the right time. I definitely try to channel that feeling into the art I make.

So to me, music is shorthand for feelings. A perfect blend of how a moment feels and how to convey it all at the same time.”

What Music Means To Me: Ari Michaels

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Ari Michaels has been a compassionate friend of ours, an opinionated woman, and someone who celebrates Body Positivity for femme folx of every shape & size. A truly inspiring, and not to mention, hugely talented human being who we’re happy to have as part of our What Music Means To Me project.

Check out Ari’s thoughts down below!

Ari Michaels (Advocate/Singer/Songwriter):

”I think one really special thing about music is that just about everybody likes it. Even with a variety of genres to favor over others, music has an ability to be objectively uplifting, to bring us to dance or tears, to recall memories and help us escape. Everyone is welcome in music, everyone has a spot. Shower acoustics and highway breeze car-rides can transport a person into their rockstar fantasies, just as overhearing “Take On Me” by AHA on the radio can trigger a sweet, hilarious memory.

Lately I find myself listening to funk like Parliament Funkadelic, upbeat Hip Hop like Anderson Paak. or pretty much anything under Soul, old and new. It makes me feel slick and reminds me how cool I am, since I forget from time to time.

Point blank, music address a core desire in all people which is a sense of belonging. A local artist who I feel encapsulates this feeling is Remember Jones, a Soul/Pop singer out of Asbury Park, NJ. The album “Tranquilizer!” is full of tight band hits and old-school harmonies. RJ produces hypnotizing melodies and original lyrics that’ll pull you in like a magnet and bring you to your feet. I’m thankful I’ve been able to see RJ live on a handful of occasions because the live performances completely transform the listening experience. Not only does the band have intense energy on stage, but all the members actively turn their performance into a space for you to let go and join in.

You’re never left out of the Remember Jones experience.”

What Music Means To Me: Mochi Robinson

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One of The Hook’s most favorite music makers, Mochi Robinson, delighted us when he agreed to participate in our What Music Means To Me Series. The experimental artist has been one of our favorite to review, to talk about, and for almost four months stayed as our featured album!

Here’s what Mochi had to say about music’s impact on himself & growing up!

Mochi Robinson (Artist/Musician):

”Music wasn’t something I always had, it was something I had to find. But, once it gripped its teeth into me, I haven’t been able to look the other way.

Music has been a source of identity for me since middle school. As an interracial kid, growing up in a predominantly white area, I was able to shed the burden of trying to identify myself through race from music. It gave me an identity as an artist, and as a creative, which has been empowering ever since. Painting landscapes with sound, and being able to connect to so many people globally through one common denominator have been the most powerful tools given to me.

On the other hand, listening to music has become a tool to either narrate my own adventure, or to help sort through thoughts, always cathartic along the way. When the wintertime blues hit, Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago will always make its way to the top for a melancholic morning. Or if I need summertime energy, Kendrick Lamar’s to pimp a butterfly has the hits that slap and bring energy to the forefront. There seem to be songs and albums that surpass being songs, and remain in your life forever and never being obsolete however many times you listen, usually always because of its nostalgic connection. I.e songs your parents played growing up, first car mixed CD, Etc.

Recently, I’ve been able to add a good friend, Sam Bekt, to that list of songs. In his new record Selfie, the second song, “Switzerland,” is an absolute bop that brings a sense familiarity for me. Would absolutely recommend listening to the whole record, each track feels like its own character.”

What Music Means To Me: Katie Miller

Photographer: Stavi Xinou

Photographer: Stavi Xinou

Katie Miller of Kate Dressed Up has been working her butt off in the local scene to create music, network, and generally be a good human being. As an integral member of our local scene, we wanted to know what Katie’s thoughts were on music & what it means to her!

Check it out below!

Katie Miller (Singer/Songwriter/Instrumentalist):

”Emily reached out and asked me to write at least 250 words about what music means to me. Last night, I went to Union Transfer with my friends and saw Better Oblivion Community Center, a band I would call a supergroup made up of Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers. I cried 3 times during the show. On the way out, the task of writing this article jumped to the forefront of my mind.

Music means everything to me. Everything. Not an exaggeration. Music means everything to me.

Music is the way I connect to the world around me. In everything I do, in all my relationships with others, there’s music. It’s been that way since my very first memories and has never changed. My parents told me that at their very first parent-teacher conference (I’m talking nursery school, here), the teachers told them I was a great kid but that I sang a LOT, and loudly. It was probably Celine Dion. Point being, I’ve thought about music all day, every day, forever. It’s my deepest obsession and I could never change it if I tried, and I’d never want to.

As one so deeply in love with music itself, I look at myself and the world around me and see all the ways that music serves The Big Picture and all its infinite minutia. Music is a mandala of expression. We sing, we play, we listen, maybe we dance, and then it’s over. Music not only helps us celebrate, but it is the celebration itself. Music not only helps us grieve, but we literally pack our grief into the song until it becomes grief itself. We are able to lose ourselves in these vibrations and come out the other side changed. The creation of music is an extremely intimate thing, but we share these moments and people come together and connect through them in the most beautiful ways.

Having my feet planted in both Philadelphia and New Jersey means that I get to experience the best of both of these musical scenes and all the characters therein. Right now my favorite artist in Philadelphia is Elaine Rasnake, an incredible indie pop artist that I went on tour with in 2018. We now play in each other’s bands. Some other honorable Philly mentions include Secret Nudist Friends, Wallace, and Dominy. New Jersey seems to be constantly bursting with talent, but right now I’m really digging all the new stuff that The Vaughns and Lowlight have been putting out. Jeff Linden is another artist I listen to consistently; my favorite release is Sad Bastard Songs.

I feel blessed every day because music is central to my existence. In a way, that is living the dream: being able to spend time daily with this art form, whether it’s my own or other people’s. Having other people respond to my art, or feeling responses within myself to others’ art, is where the magic truly lies. We are able to reach one another at the most vulnerable level, and also experience our own vulnerability in doing so. My adventures with music have taught me to feel gratitude for my life and everyone in it, whose unwavering love, honesty, and support help me know that everything is working itself out.”

What Music Means To Me: Dustin Schumacher

Photographer: Andrew Ehritz

Photographer: Andrew Ehritz

Dustin Schumacher is a force to be reckoned with - a vocalist, guitarist and songwriter, the Pennsylvania native has been bringing back emotion into the local rock scene with his ongoing project, Inner Temple (one of our faves, tbh).

Dustin Schumacher (Singer/Songwriter/Instrumentalist):

Music to me means no fear. For an instance, I am immortal. The world’s harm can no longer burden me. The dirt beneath my feet can no longer bury me. I’m as alive as I was when I left the womb. Music is the air in my lungs and the armor clenched tightly around my skin.

I feel like we’re too often surrounded by fashion trends that come and go, family and friends that don’t reach out, and toxic romantic relationships that are anything but fluid. One thing always stays constant and that’s musical release and energy. Too many people are afraid to be real with themselves and to others. Music demands you to be real. It holds you down on the floor and begs you to be completely naked and bare for it. It wants to see every inch of you from the inside out and then go back inside again. It wants to learn your deepest secrets that no one knows. It wants you in every definition and in every language, shape, and form. Music wants your emotional honesty and it can easily tell deceit.

The best songs we’ve heard are filled with singers who had tears in their eyes while reciting their poetic freedom and whose voices cracked and shattered from the emotional strain of hitting their highest note possible until their vocal chords ripped apart like a sharp knife through a tightly wound ball of yarn. Some call that imperfection. I call it human.

Dustin is currently hype on Wilkes Barre, PA natives, Toothless & their most recent EP from 2018, RED. Check out the EP streaming below!