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I DM’ed my favorite artist: How the personal becomes relatable  

| Monday, January 20, 2020

Lina Domenella | The Observer

I was making a playlist for a friend and procrastinating packing for my semester away in Washington D.C. that I was anxious about, when I came across Bug Hunter’s music. I added it to the playlist because he had a funny name, it had a fun melody and the lyrics made me smile. This sentiment continued the next couple of days while I continually listened to my curation.

A few days later, I was having a bad day. It was just one of those days where it felt like the world was drowning out the good. I was driving with an old high school buddy who has different tastes in almost everything than me including music. I found myself asking him to put on Bug Hunter’s “Be Glad I Love You (Go to Bed)” repeatedly. Something about the loving, sentimental and personal lyrics, made me smile even on a day I was not 100%.

On our way home, we switched solely to Hunter’s music. I continued to run the cutesy personal lyrics of “Be Glad I Love You” in my head, while he nodded while grinning to the playful, meta and ironic “Disco! in the Panic Room.” After sending Hunter’s “Point to Prove” to another friend, and receiving back, “Wow I really felt both of those choruses hard; I feel seen right now,” back, I had decided that he was my new favorite artist. It was on the trip back alone that I decided to reach out to him over Instagram when I got home.

The lyrics to Bug Hunter’s music are specific. I have never nosily read a love email over my neighbor’s shoulder on an airplane, nor have I been in a relationship where I repeatedly lost my keys and needed someone to hold down my shirt while I took off my sweater, but I do relate to the sentiment of his stories — the emotions they portray.

In a world where relatability and authenticity have become synonymous, artists often make generic lyrics and experiences emotional. Bug Hunter does the opposite. He takes the uniquely mundane events in his life and makes them metaphors for emotions such as love, disappointment, self-resentment and boredom.

I cannot relate to every one of Bug Hunter’s songs, but every one of Bug Hunter’s songs reminds me of someone I love, in this way they become instantly personal. His songs played a role in momentary connections between me and four friends in the matter of those 24 hours. He gave me a reason to contact them, to reach out to them on a day I needed them. They not only innately give me joy, but by reminding of the love I have for the people I think of while listening to them they gave me personal joy.

I have heard countless hipsters in record stores talk about how they miss the connection an artist they loved had with them when they were less famous. Thinking of these constant laments made me want to reach out to Bug Hunter while he was still small, knowing that if he was showing up on my Spotify he would show up on others. I opened Instagram looked him up. Read about how he married the girl he wrote “Be Glad I Love You for” and hit the follow button. I then typed out and deleted many different versions of my message and settled on simplified version of everything I have written in this piece so far the next day.

“I was having a bad day yesterday and found your music it made it substantially better. I sent it to a bunch of my friends, and they smiled plus my mom. I decided that I owed you a thank you … so thank you for the tunes and have a good day!!”

A few hours later he replied — something I was not expecting.

He said I was kind and my message was a confidence boost for him. In the end, this short conversation of actual communication, though cool, meant less to me than the way we were communicating before.

His songs mean more to me than those words in my DM box. In a world where relatability is of utmost value in music, Hunter takes risks by writing stunningly specific lyrics. It is through these beautifully personal lyrics that he can relate to his growing audience and their friends’ interpretation of the world not just their thoughts and feelings, creating an unique bond. That leads to them texting, “I feel seen” and building up the courage to actually send the DM they have repeatedly drafted.

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