Much like the saying “time heals all wounds,” music often does the same for a lot of people. It can see us through the hard times, be our soundtrack to the good ones, and generally help us process our emotions whatever they may be.
Growing up in Miami, Florida, Richard Rodriguez found music at a young age. He always saw his future self as a member of a rock band, as punk rock was his forte for a number of years. His love for the music that saw him through his angsty teenage years eventually led him to discover The Prodigy and their Fat of the Land album, and the rest was history.
Since then, the connections Richard has formed with the music of his favorite artists are unlike the average music listener. Having aided him through moments of great depression, painful breakups, and generally losing relationships, music has been the constant safety net in his life that not many are quite as fortunate to have.
“Depression is the reaper looming over us all. We all have our breaking points. I’ve spent a lot of time building up friendships, only to leave them behind. In my early childhood, I had many feelings of isolation. I feel all of us have felt alone at some point, whether it was going to college, moving to a new city, or going through a breakup… What is very difficult to understand and believe during this time is that this pain is only temporary. Music acted as a conduit from sorrow to happiness for me. It never leaves you (as long as you take care of your ears). It’s always familiar.
I remember listening to Gouryella’s self-titled track after some heartbreak. I’d listen to classic trance (OG Armin van Buuren, Tiesto’s ‘In Search of Sunrise’ compilations, ATB, Paul van Dyk, BT, etc.) to really uplift me; no pun intended. Trance is a very good genre to get your spirits up. It encompasses every emotion with its own subgenre, from the happy/care-free sound of uplifting, progressive, and down-tempo, to the angry growling basslines of dark psy, hard trance, and tech trance. Techno helped me to channel my anger into dance, something that Billboard’s Top 40 can’t do. Artists like Plastikman (better known as Richie Hawtin today), Dubfire, Umek, and Green Velvet made music that not only work my body to the beat, but showed me that some tracks are not just a dance tune, but a thoughtful journey.”
As the electronic music scene continues to rise in popularity and commercialism, there are still those that see it as a stereotype that it simply is not. Almost every genre of music has had its run with drug/substance connection, but few have taken heat like the electronic scene.
For those who have truly had their lives changed by the dance music community and the music that created it, Richard certainly does them justice in his efforts to convince people that there is no need for such harsh judgment or labels.
“The scene is what it is. There’s no point in convincing yourself or anyone else that there isn’t a ton of drug use at festivals or clubs. There’s always been drug use emphasized in every music scene. There’s ecstasy in electronic music, psychedelic usage in rock and roll, alcoholism in country, marijuana in jazz, and all of the above in rap… For those who don’t see it as real music, well… that’s their opinion. There’s a lot of EDM I don’t consider real music as well. If there’s something this music has taught me it’s that there is a lot of flavor out there. You like what you like. There’s no point in stressing over someone not liking what you like. All you can do is take them to a show and let them decide for themselves.”
Even if we are the most well seasoned ravers or have the most well trained ear after years and years of involvement in the genre, there is always something new to hear. It does not take away from the past or lower the level because there will always be someone out there who enjoys it and is moved by it. After all, that is music’s purpose.
But sometimes it isn’t the go-to means of resolution, forcing it to the back burner of what may be easily remedied. According to Richard, it is in those times that we need to take a step back, look at the situation, and see just how music fits.
“I don’t think our music scene can prevent a war or anything…we’ve seen what went on during the Flower Power protests of the 60s/70s. What does bother me is that foreign public opinion of the US has gone downhill since the presidential election. Dave Clarke recently revealed that he refuses to play in America due to the new president. Not to get political, but that sucks. Music is a great way to ease tension between nations. By facilitating tourism from one country to another, music brings different cultures together for a common cause, to celebrate love in peaceful ways. Every big name festival has some kind of clash of cultures, and it’s a beautiful thing. On the dance floor, discrepancies in language don’t matter; smiles are universal.”
For anyone who still finds themselves on the fence about dance music, or just needs another form of personal therapy in their life and not sure where to turn…Richard shares his biggest suggestions with us to pass on to the next needy soul.
“I’d turn them over to some of my favorite albums. No Silence by ATB is probably the best trance album I have ever heard. With tracks like “Marrakech,” “Ecstasy,” and “Circular Symmetry,” it’s the perfect soul-searching soundtrack. There are also the Northern Exposure mixes by Sasha & Digweed, which breathes in me a feeling that can only be described as absolute bewilderment. More recently, The Thrillseekers’ Escape provides an actual escape with soundscapes that words cannot do justice. If you ARE looking for a therapeutic experience, listening to these suggestions should do the magic. If not, I owe you a