About a month ago I received an email from KILLxALLxMUSIC, the self-proclaimed (and honestly rather quite apt in many ways) “anti-label,” informing me that not only were they sending me a physical copy of The Warhorse‘s upcoming single (entitled “Bone Apple Tea,” releasing June 11th, which I’ll get to in a moment) but they were also going to be putting a prior quote of mine about The Warhorse on “the EPK.” I felt honored, thanked them, and then immediately opened up Google to do a search for “EPK.” Did you know that it stands for “Electronic Press Kit”?
I honestly had no idea!
No, seriously. The truth of the matter is that, ever since I started covering the synthwave scene back in 2017, I’ve had no idea what I’ve been doing as I more or less stumbled backward into music journalism. I always considered myself just a writer of fiction prior to 2017, and was actually working on a novel for a few years up until that point when writer’s block struck me hard, but that all changed once I discovered the synthwave scene. The music was captivating, the artists were inspiring, and I felt like I had to do what I could to help the scene get noticed but especially those acts which don’t get noticed as much as they should.
I started Watermelon Banzai with no preconceived notions nor measurements for “success” (a word I’ve grown to loathe, but more on that soon) other than I never wanted it to be about me but rather the artists, the music, and the scene. I had no lofty goals of personal fame or fortune and therefore I certainly never expected any artist or label to quote me in their press kit. So when I got mail delivered from KILLxALLxMUSIC, and opened it up, I was seriously speechless.
Contained within was a plethora of stickers, a matchbook, a copy of the “Bone Apple Tea” single on CD, and a flyer filled with information which had this on it:
To some this would be a measurement of “success,” and I guess in a way it is and/or could be but, as stated previously, it’s a word which I’ve learned to distrust when before I would worship it as if it were the law of the land. Simply put, “success” is all in your head. No one can define what “success” means to you other than yourself. I’ve wasted far too many years of my life allowing others to define “success” for me, and when I did it only made me feel bitter in the end.
I often see artists getting discouraged for a number of reasons, which I understand in a variety of ways but, again, discouragement is only the result of preconceived notions and definitions (either personal or a result of others) in regards to “success.” I mean, look, if all I ever cared about were my quotes being used in press kits than I would’ve created a lot more “sound bite” type content. I never sought direct recognition. I didn’t care about the numbers. I only cared to help people. This isn’t to suggest that I don’t appreciate any support or public acknowledgment of my work but, for me, it’s more of an unexpected bonus.
I am truly humbled.
But it’s unfortunate, and also a cruel reality, that we live in a world where numbers tend to mean more than anything. Follows, Views, Downloads, Listens, Plays, Streams, etc. Quantity over quality and a rat race to “the top.” It’s both annoying and nauseating. People talk about “the grind” or playing “the game” but, to use a perhaps now overused quote from an 80’s movie, “the only winning move is not to play.” By this I do not mean you should give up and not create art, of course not, I’m saying that you shouldn’t create art simply to fit a specific mold nor should you also kowtow to the demands of moldmakers; you do you.
As much as I love ellipses, I felt it was important for me to also show the full quote so you don’t think that anything I said was taken out of context. I mean, if you really want, you can also check out their Bandcamp page as well… eh?
My quote about The Warhorse wasn’t just lip service. I honestly believe they’re one of the more unique acts out there in the synthwave scene, even if they skate the edge of the mold for not being “80’s enough,” and I truly do admire them for just doing their own thing without worrying what anyone else thinks about them in turn. “Bone Apple Tea,” in many ways, is an anthem to that belief and a call to arms to embrace your uniqueness. Well, that’s my interpretation at least:
Topher Hendricks, the keytar-strapped lead singer, says of the song:
I think [“Bone Apple Tea”] is basically about becoming disillusioned with the grand ideal people build up of themselves in their heads, and how it’s often impossible for people to see beyond their own tiny little interpretation of reality.
The truth is that nature doesn’t really care what you’re up to no matter how important you think you are. [The new record] takes the disillusionment we hinted at on the past material and just says, well, humanity’s probably not got that much time left so let’s just go for it full-bore while we’re still here.
It pains me when I see so many artists getting depressed over being told that their music is “too raw,” or that their “mix needs work,” if not being outright ignored entirely. I mean, I get it; I’ve been on the other side after all. It’s hard when you receive dozens of submissions a day and can’t find the time to get to them all, especially when doing so isn’t your full-time job, but there’s a difference between “curating” rather than it just being an issue of time. I truly mean it when I say that, if I had more time to dedicate, I would’ve covered every submission that came my way because I never saw myself as a judge but rather a presenter who just wanted to leave it up to the audience to decide on their own.
So this is the part where I formally announce that Watermelon Banzai is ending.
As I said, it ultimately comes down to time and so I’ve decided to turn all of my attention back to being a fiction writer and finishing that novel. The synthwave scene has inspired me in a lot of ways, which is probably apparent by now, and one such way was to witness the passion that so many artists have for their work. I have no regrets in regards to the past few years, in terms of covering the synthwave scene, but the time has come for me to step back and follow my own path towards creative fulfillment. We all need to challenge ourselves sometimes.
Much like with this website, I don’t walk the path of a novelist with goals of being a bestseller or becoming the next so-and-so. I just have a lot of ideas which have been yearning to come out for too long now. So, what is “success” to me? It’s creating the kind of art which you want to make without compromise, without worrying what anyone thinks, and being happy with the end result no matter what. It’s about standing up for yourself, being unique, and not fitting a mold. It’s about making friends, not “connections” through “networking,” and enjoying the ride together. Most importantly it’s about shattering those glass ceilings, subverting expectations, and not giving a fuck… that’s The (Bone Apple) Tea.
Topher, when asked about The Warhorse and their overall approach, said:
Yeah, we just want to make music that appeals personally to us and the nuanced confused way we feel throughout the day. And honestly, we’re just making what we want to make, so we’re not expecting it to be for everyone, or really anyone.
If any of your friends are into it, maybe stay away from them… we just like drinking beer and laughing at ourselves.
“Bone Apple Tea” drops Tuesday, June 11, 2019, with remixes from Facexhugger and Occams Laser, as well as two b-sides and more (both as a digital release and a physical CD maxi-single). The music video was directed by Black Coffee.
The full album, It’s Been Fun, It’s Been Real, It’s Been Funereal, is expected later in 2019, featuring guests like Street Cleaner, Kent State, Facexhugger, Chelsey and the Noise, Party Nails, and more. Until then… thanks for everything! ❤ – WB.