‘Disneyland is presented as imaginary to make us believe that the rest is real, when in fact all of Los Angeles and the America surrounding it are no longer real, but of the order of the hyperreal and of simulation. It is no longer a question of a false representation of reality (ideology), but of concealing the fact that the real is no longer real…’ – Simulacra and Simulations, Jean Baudrillard.
Somewhere in South East China, on the fifth floor of another apartment building sits one-hundred-yuan wireless speakers playing the creative output of Gustav Åhr, a soundscape occasionally nestled between five-second soundbites of advertisement revenue. Here, lies a little bit of confessional America broadcast almost exclusively for the citizens of floor five, or at the very least, the citizens on my side of the corridor, or at the very least, my neighbours, who speak with beautiful tonal inflections of Mandarin, but do not understand, I assume, a single word of Lil Peep.
Over the course of two months, my girlfriend and I have been examining the lyrical content of Lil Peep’s cybography, discussing with a certain intellectual rigour, the hook on his track ‘Gym Class’ with specific attention paid to the lyrics ‘Playboy bunny though, shawty look like a pornstar, / I know she love me cause she fuck me in her sports car.’
Let’s backtrack by saying we are living in the age of Nobel Prizes. I don’t care that Bob Dylan won a Nobel Prize, but I think it’s important to use something, (anything) as a platform for justifying this fight against the reduction of complexity. I understand that we’re also living in the age of postmodernity, an age where an American screenwriter can write one-hundred and fifty pages about how Carly Rae Jepson doesn’t sing about wanting to dance and have fun and, in which case, hands me a special kind of creative license when it comes to writing about the artistry of music.
Let’s backtrack again by acknowledging my Gibsonesque use of language, more specifically the use of the term ‘cybography’ in the second paragraph of this essay – a subtle portmanteau of the terms ‘cyber’ (Gibson af) and ‘discography,’ which is beginning to sound like something far too tangible for the ever exxxpanding postmodern trajectory. ‘Discography’ literally contains the word disc. (lol) On the other hand, the term ‘cybography’ adequately captures the way music is now disseminated, stored, and analysed in comment sections across the digital stratosphere. I sat down inside the simulacrum of the social (Twitter) to speak to eery, a lofi hiphop artist from Norway, whose current ‘cybography’ has inspired the piano covers and tutorial videos that pepper my YouTube recommended.
“Unfollow brand accounts that try to be relatable. I’ll emotionally connect with a robot before I connect with someone’s marketing team.” This was the first time I’d heard eery talk about “the general sadnesses that come with social media” – the pseudo-empathetic strategies pushed onto us by a desperate corporate hegemony.
“I feel like characters like Wendy on Twitter, or Burger King’s twitter – or all of these corporations running this strategy of making their mascot come to life – have almost taken a note out of Disney’s book, in how you could go to Disney World and meet Mickey Mouse or whatever and talk to him as if he was a real person. It makes you connect with the brand on a personal level, and I don’t feel like brands – who ultimately care nothing about you as a person – should have that space in our lives.”
While forms of advertising have always existed to “manipulate people into buying shit”, eery acknowledged how the “sadnesses” of our world had become far “more apparent now” addressing the importance of digital spaces as a “forum” to “express these things and relate to each other about them.”
I asked eery how he got into making music. “I got into lofi hiphop one summer when I was painting my grandmother’s backyard,” spending lonely days “listening to artists like philo (eli filosov now, I think) and deadxbeat.” These influences fuelled self-determination to, as eery described, “make something like that on my own.”
From digitally placed vinyl crackles to the faux warble of a 1950’s transmission, this emergent genre, spread through forms of memetics and compositional hybridity, is quintessentially postmodern in the sense that it is almost exclusively made up of an honest simulation.
From my fifth-floor apartment, I find eery’s compositions create an unusual sense of longing for something unspecified and out of reach. This melancholic desperation is accentuated through the subversive use of sampled soundbites that acknowledge a sense of impermanence to our current states of hyperreality.
“I do feel lonely and alienated a lot, I spent a year sitting alone in my room in my mom’s house, just making music and not going outside because I didn’t have any friends – as we had moved the year before to a new place. I would say that my music might have been influenced by that, but for the most part, I make beats, so it’s more something to get lost in, and have fun with, and forget all about it.”
This reflective honesty stands in stark contrast with the popular outcry of closed-source ideological assurances – the self-perpetuated promotion of a reduction of human complexity. Rather than heal our anxieties through moments of genuine catharsis, most contemporary trends in music – all media, perhaps – offer to supplement the masquerade of our unfulfilled natures by suggesting that we, ourselves, are actually tremendously happy, wealthy, and definitely not depressed.
Mainstream trends, failing to connect with the severe needs of the individual, produces a void that can only be fulfilled by a meaningful acknowledgement of our loneliness, our limerence and our dire need for something new. Like eery, Nietzsche wanted his melancholy to ‘rest in the hiding place and abysses of perfection’, which is why, Nietzsche said, ‘he needed music.’
Through the artifice of marketing, we are caged inside false perspectives of ourselves as imperfect beings from which products can be used to repair our ever-accumulating deficiencies. Surely, lofi hiphop revels in a simulated imperfection, and in doing so, might allow us to acknowledge the simulated imperfections within ourselves.
Stay in touch with eery: