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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: Anna Ladd

Photographer: Megan Kelly {@quinoa.cowgirl}

Photographer: Megan Kelly {@quinoa.cowgirl}

An art maker and creative peer, Anna Ladd does it all. Whether it’s visual art, writing, making podcasts, or being a good human being - she’s got it covered. Of course, sometimes that isn’t always what we feel on the inside, and Anna is no stranger to that. After following her through social media outlets, and rare sightings (one in particular with a dog), Anna seemed like the type of person I wanted to ask questions about - especially what music meant to her, so I did!

Check it out below!

Anna Ladd (Artist/Creator):

Like most EmOtIoNaL suburban youths, I grew up listening to pop punk music and dreaming about fronting a band on tour. But I wasn’t very good at the main skills someone needs to write a song: singing and playing an instrument. So, I figured I was doomed to watch from the sidelines. By high school, I had resigned myself to taking pictures at shows, hoping someone might bring me on the road when I was old enough.

I put out my first record nearly five years ago, when I was 20. I was at art school, and when you’re at art school, you’re not allowed to suck at art. And I really needed a creative hobby that I could suck at, so I wrote some songs. It was weird to engage with the creative process like this – without thinking about what I was doing, without learning how to be good first, or without really even trying to be good at all. It was also out of character for me to adamantly want to perform this thing I wasn’t very good at, in public, where everyone could see. But for some reason, this was the first place I felt comfortable being a little bad.

Visual art was a different case for me – the post-graduate depressive hole didn’t lend itself to making work, or really even having ideas for work. If I made something that sucked, then I must also suck, and will probably suck forever. I also stopped listening to music. I couldn’t tell you what records came out in 2017. But through this otherwise creatively sterile period of my life, I kept writing songs.

They weren’t a life-or-death reflection of all my shortcomings, or something I felt a pressure to connect to like I did when I was 15. They were just some songs, that were kind of bad, about kind of boring feelings, about being kind of boring. They carried no weight. And they were my entry point back into making my “real” work – even though I consider my music to be an important part of my creative practice now, not just adjacent to it. My whole perspective on making things follows this mantra now – I’d rather be prolific and kinda bad than never make any work at all.”

Anna is currently listening to Magic Gone by Scranton, PA local, Petal. Check out the album streaming below!

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!

Rowan's Top 10 Albums of 2018

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A writer for The Hook for nearly 2 years, Rowan continues to contribute sound music reviews & opinions. We love & miss her dearly.

Below are her Top Albums of 2018!

Hayley Kiyoko – Expectations

This year has been a thriving time for LGBTQ+ artists. Hayley Kiyoko is our queen and we should all bow down. “Wanna Be Missed” is my favorite song off this album, but the rest are just as good, and the album art? Wow. Hayley out here telling us it’s okay to be as gay as possible. She really wasn’t lying when she said it was 20gayteen.

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Florence and The Machine – High As Hope

Florence, Florence, Florence. This woman has a voice that makes me believe the sirens of Greek myth are real, and she is one of them. She can lure me to my death anytime. I will go willingly as soon as I hear her voice on the horizon.

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Panic! At The Disco – Pray For The Wicked

Any time Panic! At the Disco releases new music is a good time for the world. Is this one of their best albums? No, but it’s still one of the best albums of the year, because Brendon Urie is still Brendon Urie.

Beach House – 7

My favorite band releasing a new album automatically makes it one of my favorite albums of the year. I’ll just add this to the discography I’m slowly building in my music library.

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Years and Years – Palo Santo

Another success for LGBTQ+ musicians! If Years and Years and Hayley Kiyoko want to do a collaborate any time soon, I wouldn’t be mad.

Nicki Minaj – Queen

The album title says it all. Really. In a choice between this album and Cardi B’s, I gotta go with Nicki. The beef between them is tragic because we all know they could’ve made a collab to end the world. Though I love Cardi’s I Like It (and listen to it on repeat) and I love her personality, Nicki’s music is still my first choice. Chun Li!

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Ariana Grande – Sweetener

Was there even a question that this would be a Top 10 album of the year? For anyone? I’ll be shocked if it’s not on anyone’s list but mine. Come on now. Ariana stays slaying us all. Thank u, next.

Death Cab For Cutie – Thank You For Today

I love Death Cab & I love this album. The songs take me away. “Northern Lights” is my favorite above all. The moment I first heard it on the radio, I stood there just listening to it until it was over, totally absorbed. And then I went and immediately listened to the rest of the album.

Troye Sivan – Bloom

Another LGBTQ+ artist, and one of my favorites. While I think Blue Neighborhood is still his best work, Bloom is a great album with tracks and lyrics that remind me why I love Troye. The boy’s a romantic and I love it. I practically swoon over the pictures he paints with his songs.

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John Legend – A Legendary Christmas

When John Legend dropped a Christmas album out of nowhere at the beginning of November I was shook, but of course I went and streamed it immediately, and I was not disappointed. Christmas is my favorite holiday of all time, and it feels like John Legend should’ve been singing carols long before this. Michael Bublé who? I’ll be listening to John Legend Christmas music and only John Legend Christmas music from now on.