"Music is abundant, purpose is scarce." - Mat Dryhurst
When music is everywhere, gushing freely out of internet pipes like a hose-gone-wild - why add to the noise? Why do it? Why bother?
I've spent a lot of this year looking for the answers to those questions, and here's what I've got so far.
To connect. Not with anonymous listeners on platforms, but with the people closest to you, the like minds and the kindred spirits. Connection is a basic human need, but often it feels like it's in short supply. Humans need hope and love in the same way they need water and food. Hope and love multiply, when you have your people around you. This is how families work. We all need to be reminded how good it feels to squad up.
To dream and to lead. Artists don't tend to think of themselves as leaders, but its often the 'creative types' who everyone else turns to when they need guidance. Consciously or not, artists analyse and parse patterns of emotion and information deeply, and then publish the results for the public good. We do it in the form of pop songs or drum beats or soundscapes or whatever. Artists digest a diverse diet of humanity, processing the good with the bad. Along the way we tend to dream up new and better futures that can't be imagined from inside the matrix. Artists can dream when others fail to, and we need dreamers desperately right now.
To breed empathy. From my experience, artists are kind. They are not simply tolerant of others, but they actively seek to understand perspectives that are foreign or confusing. They are generous of mind, spirit and wealth - at least the ones I roll with anyway. If you fold empathy deep into your work as an artist, you'll nudge other people in the same direction. You're helping to provide an antidote to all those bits of the modern human experience that feel so cold and uncaring.
2020 has been a mess. Many challenges still lie ahead. We live daily with a growing awareness of just how much is "not quite right" in the world. But here's a plan. Find your purpose, then look for your people. Once you've found them, do not settle for less than close and meaningful connection. Be dangerous in your ideas - but kind in your actions. Organise and nurture each other, then move boldly forward into the world with empathy and purpose.
Illustration by Jordan White
Handwriting by Myles Mumford
Mastering by Nicholas Meredith (1-4, 7-8, 10-11, 15-16), Brendon Zacharias (5-6), Becki Whitton (13-14), Kaye Loggins (9)
We acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands we live and work on, including the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation where much of this music was created and prepared. As artists we acknowledge that we work on lands where songlines and deep musical traditions existed for tens of thousands of years, long before so-called contemporary musical traditions were developed. We pay respect to elders past, present and emerging and acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded.
Thank you to all the artists involved, to our growing Spirit Level Fam online community, to Spirit Level label manager Nik Mitchell.
A huge thank you to our fellow labels who continue to inspire us and whose artists generously appear on this compilation: Milk! Records, Provenance, Ourness, Remote Control, Bedroom Community & Friends of Friends.