Imagine loneliness as a house situated somewhere quiet and romantic, like a forest in upstate Montana. Then, imagine you’re twelve years old playing video games on the frayed carpet of that same old house, waiting for someone you love to arrive.
The best music makes me feel nostalgic for a world I’ve never actually experienced; a kind of fantasy-enablement. When it comes to mainstream music, if we are not fed a steady stream of pseudo-emotion, it seems the lyrics will instead refrain from reality with a series of ideological assurances regarding the high life as the ideal destination of the rich and famous.
At the same time, I think it was David Foster Wallace who suggested that real music could be used as an anesthetic against loneliness. Although we might keep trying, it seems genuinely pathetic to consider music as a cure to the problems of our 21st-century modernity. In fact, we seldom bother with these considerations anymore. Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll is the slogan that encapsulates today’s societal mentality, where music is used to forget the human condition, rather than face it. To add emphasis, let me refer to Slavoj Žižek’s Trouble in Paradise. Here is a short paragraph referring to 2012’s Gangnam Style:
“On 21 December 2012, [Gangnam Style] reached the magic number of one billion views – and since 21 December was the day when those who took seriously the predictions of the Mayan calendar were expecting the end of the world, one can say that the Ancient Mayas were right: the fact that a ‘Gangnam Style’ video gets a billion views effectively is the sign of the collapse of a civilization.”
It is rare, I think, to find contemporary music that does not revel in self-satirical meaninglessness, but instead grasps an unfashionable sentimentality; the kind of feelings you might even describe as lonely or wistful. Eevee is a beatmaker from the Netherlands, whose music is imbued with this kind of contemplative, forlorn, lofi sound. It is the music of dreamscape hypnagogia and rainy cities. A music so painfully pensive it might even inspire a sort of low-key transcendentalism.
Going into 2018, I asked Eevee what she thought about this kind of interpretation. The loneliness in her music, she said, came from the ‘things that happened in my past that I struggled with.’ Discussing her process, she continued by saying, ‘I make music on my mood, so sometimes it sounds a lil sad or melancholic.’ Through our exchange, Eevee acknowledged that ‘a lot of people feel alone’ and whilst the interpretation of sound was always different, we both agreed that music could be therapeutic in a society where epistemological loneliness was a fast-growing cultural phenomenon.
I have listened to Eevee’s music in the bath when I am hungover. Even at my quarter-life, I have the worst kind of hangovers, the kind where I can feel the serotonin draining from my body like oil from a car. Even the vivid cheerfulness of a yellow duck is not enough to stifle the disappointment I feel for the world. This is not to sound characteristically intense or self-indulgent, but to understand how this music can genuinely operate as an anesthetic against loneliness.
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