Upon hearing the lineup of my “Songs I’m Listening to Right Now” playlist, one may not see how the songs fit with one another. Aside from each song representing something or some time important in my life, there is a significance to each of their presence and the way that the songs fit in their order. The first half is a cultural mix, with a clear transition to the 2nd half, full of what I gravitate to now, alt/rock and electric, guitar-heavy songs.
First is the folk song “Diamond Day” by Vashti Bunyan, the musical bed to my Fun ID. When I was 7, my dad filled an iPod to the brink with the music he’d collected over 50 years. My brother and I took turns looking through as many songs as we could. For me, “Diamond Day” was my golden nugget. Independent of what my parents played, of pop culture, I found a song whose sound I loved, and I prize that honest selection from a time when I knew almost nothing about music. No other song could better lead into a playlist representative of my music choices.
My Fun ID is about how KZSC plays uncommon music, so I found it fitting to flow into my Global South song, “Kanawa” by Habib Koite. This was introduced to me around the age of 9, when my best friend’s mom would play Putumayo Presents: Mali. I’d only heard the album a number of times, but its sounds have proven unshakeable. They were like nothing I’d been exposed to before, being from such a culturally different place, yet they reached me immediately. To me, it is timeless music that can be appreciated anywhere, free of trends. It is music for the soul, for worldly grounding.
In acknowledgment of my Chinese heritage, I chose a PSA about taichi, with ethereal, spiritual music. This perfectly leads to my next song, “Hidden,” in that it has the same long chime-like sonds, and that it is by a Chinese female jazz pianist, Helen Sung. One of my favorite parts of KZSC has been my mentorship with DJ Bluejay on her show Jazzkitty. When I was recently given the task of curating my own playlist of jazzy women, I was ecstatic to come across Sung’s album in our library’s jazz section. She was the first Asian person I’d seen in the jazz section, and she was a woman! I hope to someday have a show that highlights music of at least Asia– I love my Asian roots and finding Sung proved to me how amazing it feels to find something to identify with. I want others to find that in music too, and KZSC is the best place for that.
The playlist picks up in beat with the next song, “His Story” by TLC. Their vocalization of the common discrediting and misrepresentation of woman is apt, especially after Sung. While R&B is not a genre I often listen to, TLC prove special to me by being a popular female group of the 90’s who used their heard voices to bring light to something not often talked about or listened to in the mainstream.
After a weather break, I continue into the second half with louder music. My punk song choice is one of my all-time favorites: “Work” by Jimmy Eat World. It was this band, along with old-school Paramore, that harvested my love for punk/alt rock in middle school. Since then, that love has fanned out to encompass its mingling with folk, indie, synth, pop, etc., and most recently and importantly, shoegaze.
I found Yuck during what I think was my first identity crisis. In my sophmore year of high school, I imploded with disgust for the inauthenticity of my high school’s culture, of how important Instagram and Twitter were to people’s sense of belonging. I deleted them both, and dove into what some would probably call a pretentious trip into the world of “indie.” Foreign and independent movies paired with an endeavor to find eclectic and meaningful music enlightened me. Slow, steady, and instrumental, “Rose Gives a Lily” was in a playlist I entitled “Breathing Apparatus,” full of songs that I felt matched and supported a natural and calming breathing rate. Upon rediscovering the old playlist in search of that song, I realized that that love for songs I can breathe to has carried on with a new shoegaze love…
For my recently released song choice, I picked Slowdive‘s “No Longer Making Time.” I felt like I was cheating by getting to pick a song from a band big in the 90’s. I only found Slowdive last year, just in time for their comeback this year. Like “Rose Gives a Lily,” I love Slowdive for their ability to create an atmosphere. Their loud, continuous yet melodic tunes are like no other. And while they weren’t relevant for quite some time, I am lucky to be able to end my playlist with my favorite song off of their new self-titled record, an acknowledgment to where I’ve found myself in my music (and therefore life) journey, for now.
DJ AWKCUARD on Simply Simpin’
Over the past couple of weeks I was able to choose songs from different genres for the KZSC radio/broadcasting class -- this official project is called Songs I'm Listening To Now (SILTN).
A constant favorite of mine: Dear To Me by Electric Guest. Electric Guest just came out with a new album this year after a four year process of writing and producing. I've been following this group since high school, so this song really pays tribute to all of the memories I've made since then.
Some new artists I've found this past year include Charley Bliss and Oh Honey. I've actually seen Charley Bliss live at a Darwin Deez concert and immediately fell in love with Eva Hendrick's (lead singer) vocals. I don't think I'll ever have the ability to scream like she does, but I can certainly relate to their sound. Every once in a while I'll get into listening to punk and folk music. It was a great refresher to change my musical palate and also include female-identified artists that are currently on the scene. Black Hole by Charley Bliss focuses on the embarrassment of wanting to be in a relationship, while Lonely Neighbor by Oh Honey is a back and forth between to people who want to be together but don't know if the other person feels the same way (spoiler alert: the feeling is mutual).
I decided to also throw in a song that brings back nostalgia of car rides with my mom. Halik by Aegis is about not wanting to lose someone romantically and missing their kiss. Shake by Yeek brings about an opposite vibe. Yeek is trying to shake off the pain of someone breaking their heart. Both these Pilipinx artists are dealing with the pain of losing someone. The polar opposite reactions from Halik and Shake remind me that everyone has different ways of coping and recovering from a loss.
One sided relationships can be tough and tiring. Questioning the relationship, H.E.R. sings about how busy they've been pursuing their ambitions but they're putting in their fare share of trying to make the relationship work out. I always play this song on repeat when I'm figuring out the balance in some of the relationships I have with folx. It takes effort from all parties to make a relationship. Losing by H.E.R. definitely expresses the thought process of letting go of someone.
Lastly, I chose Belong to the World by ODDISEE. ODDISEE touches up on what it means to belong to yourself. ODDISEE discusses how they've never felt quite comfortable with themselves, so ODDISEE tried to find a place in the world to fit in and check off all of the appropriate boxes. Over time, Belong To The World unravels the truth about how important it is to belong to yourself and not get wrapped up in comparing or attaching yourself to others. At the end of the day ODDISEE has been their own number one support system all along, and it turns out that they have people still supporting what they do too. Belong to yourself and the world, because you're here contributing to it while also pursuing your passions.
I love reading into lyrics and trying to decipher what songs mean to the artist, myself, and others. This process was an awesome way for me to share a journey. It's important to remember those who you love and those who continue to support you no matter what. Let's not forget the feeling of being in love to getting through the pains after someone breaks your heart. Often times there is also a period of insecurity, of questioning whether or not you've been putting enough effort into a relationship but also finding a balance between your aspirations. At the end of the day, ODDISEE puts it best by reminding listeners to be confident and aware of themselves. Don't latch on to people, because no one person can support your needs. Love yourself (and the world), because we're all here helping each other grow.
I hope this playlist has helped you simp in a healthy manner. Thank you for tuning into Simply Simpin on KZSC Santa Cruz.
-DJ AWKCUARD aka Kimberly
Maverick Sabre Covers ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’
Staying Hidden In The Jungle
Drake is from Toronto, Canada, so it's easy to assume that the jungle refers to Lawrence Heights -- a place known for heavy gang violence. Drake sings about a girl who is from the jungle and how they are struggling to stay together.
H.E.R. is from Vallejo, California. Having an unknown identity during the release of her new album "H.E.R. Volume 1", H.E.R. is actually Gabi Wilson. Gabi Wilson uses the stage name H.E.R. and chooses to stay anonymous as possible on her album covers, so that the focus stays on the music itself. Alongside the 7 tracks, H.E.R. lends her vocals to cover Drake's "Jungle".
Jungle || Drake
Jungle || H.E.R.
Soooooo. Nancy Sinatra’s hit “These Boots Were Made For Walking” is covered by more punk bands than any song. The only one I can think of that compares is 99 Red Balloons. “These Boots…” was written by Lee Hazlewood, originally recorded in 1966 by Nancy Sinatra and immediately covered several times by the end of that year. This was just the start of a trend which maybe made this the most covered song I can think of. From Megadeth to Jessica Simpson, to Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington. They’ve all done it. But 7 seconds did it the best, and they aren’t EVEN LISTED on the Wikipedia entry for their contribution to the heritage of this essentially communal track! SAD!
Either way all three versions (Sinatra, 7 Seconds, and Operation Ivy) have a special place in my heart!…Even though Operation Ivy had the arrogance (or genius[?] to call their version “One Of These Days”)
Feed Me - Back Home (Caribou Cover)
For a lot of people, Taylor Swift is one of the first artists they think of when you mention modern pop music. I’ll admit, I found the video for her song “Blank Space” to be quite entertaining and the song to be catchy, so when I heard a classical remix performed by The Brooklyn Duo, I fell in love. I feel as though this is the perfect remix, as it changes (what I feel) to be the entire song’s meaning from crazy to one meant to be soothing. Check it out…let me know what you think!
Ellie Goulding's Acoustic Cover of "Roscoe"
In 2011, Midlake's Roscoe was 90th on The Rolling Stone's 100 Best Songs of the 2000's. The group actually used to be a jazz-funk band, inspired by John Coltrane, before becoming the classic and folk rock band that they are now.
I picked this cover because, first of all, Ellie Goulding has a special place in my heart, ever since my seventh grade teacher played her music while we were working on a science experiment and geeked out over how cool she was. Second, this cover of hers reveals her impressive guitar playing, something that inspires me to parctice myself, to be able to pull off really well produced songs, and add something to it. Third, after hearing her cover, I went to listen to the original version of Roscoe and now it's one of my absolute favorite songs, with it's storytelling, melody, bass, and more, it just takes me away.