Introducing: The Deep Diver
Margaux Miller | Thursday, February 13, 2020
Growing up, my house was always filled with music. My dad insisted surround sound be installed in nearly every room regardless of if there was a TV present or not. This led me down a path of fascination regarding any sort of music genre, with a variety that expanded from country to soul, musical theatre to heavy metal and the most contested topic: pop to indie.
I felt like I had heard every single artist in existence, as well as any song ever made; however, my vast knowledge regarding music was halted in its tracks as soon as I entered high school. There were songs by The Beatles other than the greatest hits? There were soul artists other than Aretha Franklin?
New artists’ names, as well as album titles, ricocheted off my friend’s tongues, and I became overwhelmed at the idea of having to decipher what was worthy of listening to and what wasn’t. How could there be so much music and how does anybody have time to listen to it all? This overwhelming feeling inspired an idea. Rather than become overwhelmed, I compiled a list. This list accumulated until the end of my senior year of high school (and is still being added to) with artists similar to the range of music that encompassed my house growing up, as well as ones that differed greatly from what I was used to.
They were called my deep dives, and they were all special to me. I embarked on an ambitious project that I would grow to be more and more passionate about the deeper I went. I generated a process, one that involved singling out the songs that I believed were uncovered gems and weeding out the ones that I believed were overrated.
I pick an artist from my long list and write down all their albums, analyzing every single cover, release date and song in their discography. And I listen to every single one: every single song, every single album, every single commentary and every single feature. The songs that stand out to me are compiled into a playlist, which I call Deep Diver. I listen to this music while doing homework, running on the treadmill, walking around campus, cleaning my room and just about any time of day when it is acceptable to wear headphones. The ones that stand out go on the list, and the ones that don’t are left alone.
These songs then go on a separate playlist which I titled Shallow Waters. The best of the best and uncovered gems alike. The Beatles are known for their contribution to the development of pop culture, so I look for that, as well as variations in their style (“I am the Walrus”, for example). FKA Twigs, conversely, is known for her experimentation and lonely angst, so I harness that energy when I listen. Understanding the context the music was made in, the background effects and the lyrics the artist decided to use separates the commercialization of music from the art that it is often intended to be.
That’s my goal for this project: put the art back in artist. Bi-weekly, there will be a new artist, some songs you’ll know, and some songs you won’t, as well as historical context, lyrics and notes that stand out and any other fun fact that will help you appreciate the music and the people that helped create it. Enjoy the process, enjoy the deep dive and enjoy the resulting shallow waters that leave you both humbled and enlightened regarding the process of making, writing, producing and harnessing the music we so often take for granted.