This week’s example of our writing workshops:
Creative writing/music appreciation workshop – a collaboration between Alex and Ngaire Ruth @ Clapham
Music journalism writing workshop, Will Puzey @ Guildford
A & N
There are no boxes in art, they say. Although human beings love to know where they stand, art should give you the comfort of feeding off the scraps of a blank canvas in any way you want.
For this reason, genre-defying is a ridiculous phrase: what is the music doing? Standing up with a shield and spear in hand demanding that genre stands up for itself – or that genre leaves the room now? Is it defiant? Is it just reaching out across the boundaries, climbing over and kicking down the fence of artistic expectations, style? Why does anything different have to be seen as a bold, defiant action?
And yet, people outside the art realm fight over the boxes, the names, the tags for things. People inside that realm fight to belong in a box. Genre defying, does that really make you stand out? Does it make you in control? If you truly need a definition for what you’re doing, then you don’t have control over any of it.
Then again, if you don’t define yourself, some will love you, but others may see you as nothing more than a pretentious, indecisive observer. Do we need definitions in this world? Do we need borders, or do they limit us? If there were no borders and nothing to defy, wouldn’t we all jump onto each other’s throats? Are those boxes keeping us safe?
If every person was their own box, we would resent one another. We would rot in loneliness and misunderstandings.
Everything about our day should be genre-defying, anything less and we are a controlled and categorised sub culture to be analysed, prodded and written about in the past tense. Nirvana defied the genre of heavy rock by being feminist men in skirts. Monet drew pretty ponds and flowers in impressionist specks – while the rest of the world was at war. That is genre defying. The fury is when we don’t seek to explain what is genre defying about something, when we just use this clumsy phrase because describing something new and fresh without predictor text is too hard.
Maybe we should throw away all the genres and delve into a box of Music without needing the burden of classification, but I’m pretty sure we’d miss the illusions of having a choice, of belonging, of the danger of crossing lines. It’s the thing we do to show new thinking, different ideas, preferences, gender, sexualities, but really, what would happen if we rub out the lines? Who would panic first?
Genre-defying, to me, is when music fades in and out of different genres, fusing a unique sound of its own.
One band that I believe epitomises this idea is Linkin Park.
Linkin Park rose to fame by combining different sounds: nu-metal, rock, rap, electronics and more. Their first album, Hybrid Theory, was certified Diamond by the RIAA in 2005, and their second album, Meteora, is the most successful album in the history of the Alternative Songs chart.
In the present day, many artists and bands that originate from metal and rock follow the route of combining and changing their sounds. For example, Bring me the Horizon changed massively in 2013 when they released their album Sempiternal, where they went from hardcore metal to form their new kind of music. Sempiternal contained some traces of their old metal style with electronics and rock. This game-changing album won album of the year at APMAs in 2014.
These are a few examples of many, and to say that genre-defying is redundant or to be avoided is closed minded. Many artists have taken the route of fusing different types of music together and succeeded substantially. It becomes harder and harder to define genre these days, as music is evolving all the time, and perhaps will never stop.