Genre: The Great Divider?

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Illustration Elyse Taylor

Genre is meant to be a divider, a border, a barrier which keeps things separated to make them easier to manage. However important genre may be, it can be a boundary which no man wants to, or will, cross. Except by a chosen few.


These brave musical immigrants leave the comfort of their own genre and forge new musical frontiers, often stepping into unknown territory to explore what potential awaits. These courageous souls are a select few of the most definitive musicians today.


It is understandable that often musicians are the ones who create these borders, but that does not mean they cannot overcome the obstacle and reach out to other genres. It may be argued that only those who focus on their own specific genre or style can truly excel in it. But when one thinks about all the different artistic mediums it’s apparent that many artists take bits and pieces from others to create their own unique style. And often that style gives a feeling of individuality.


Beck is a great example of how mixed genre can create success. In his album “Odelay” Beck combines simple rock rhythms with blues, latin, jazz, folk, funk and a little rap, all combined with his deep droning vocals. The mix of these styles has given Beck a very unique and recognizable sound.


In a local music perspective, The Vibrant Sound is a great example of mixed genres. If you’ve ever attended one of their shows and tried to place them in a genre, chances are you found it was a daunting challenge. At first, you can’t help but notice the lyrical prowess and hip hop delivery of lead man McKay Stevens. But listen harder and you get traces of funk, reggae, jazz, ska and soul.


The fact that they can combine so many different styles into one whole is truly an impressive act. The Vibrant Sound uses a melting pot of styles to their advantage, often mixing it up song to song. And you just can’t help but feel the positive vibe of both the band and the listeners as the rhythms reverberate off the walls and fill everyone’s ears with a vibrant, joyous sound.


“It’s my opinion that if one wants to make music one should most definitely familiarize oneself with all forms and genres,” said Cory Mon, local musician and headman for the band Cory Mon and the Starlight Gospel, “And that said, one should most definitely try their hand at writing in several genres. Broadening one’s musical understanding and view will only profit an artist.”


So to those aspiring musicians, if you really want to be unique and stand out from the pack you’ve got to follow your creative impulses to take up the hammer of expansion, to assist in breaking down the walls that are potentially holding you back from reaching your full potential and exploring a new musical frontier.


By Matt Skaggs