the sound that fuels the soul

exploring alternative music

From a young age, I’ve always prided myself on my passion for music. I would walk around holding a walkman and wearing clunky headphones on my ears.

When I was ten years old, my family took a plane trip to Florida. I had never flown before and got to sit alone. “Finally, a chance at independence,” I thought to myself. I placed my headphones over my ears and took out my rainbow CD case. A few days before the trip, I had forced my older sister to make me a CD with all of my favorite songs. As I didn’t know how to work technology (and still don’t), I couldn’t make it myself, so instead I aggressively micromanaged her creation of the CD. This playlist needed to be perfect. Before I was even buckled in, I had taken out the CD, creatively named “Jaclyn’s Tunes.”

I carefully placed the CD in my Walkman, and I started immediately grooving in my middle seat as my ears caught the first few beats of “Somewhere Only We Know” by Keane. I began singing the instrumentals, making up words as I went. When the singer came in slowly, I started singing along. My head swung to the beat. I couldn’t see the two adults on either side of me sharing questioning looks with each other. I couldn’t hear my siblings giggling a few rows behind me. At the start of the chorus, I couldn’t contain my excitement anymore. I turned up the volume and shouted the lyrics, “IF YOU HAVE A MINUTE WHY DON’T WE GO? / TALK ABOUT IT SOMEWHERE ONLY WE KNOW.”

I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned to the right. My dad was leaning over the aisle seat to calmly tell me that everyone could hear me. “You can’t belt out lyrics in the middle of an airplane,” he chuckled. I could feel my face flush as I took in this new information. “Oh,” I said, mortified. “Sorry about that.”

But his caution didn’t deter me from my jam session. Though I was silent, I became more theatrical as my embarrassment wore off, lip-syncing the words and adding in my own hand movements and facial expressions. The performance continued and the headphones stayed on until I was forced to rejoin civilization.

Through the years, technology has changed, but my passion for sound has not. In middle school, I began to grow my collection of alternative music by listening to bands like Jack’s Mannequin, The Format, Carolina Liar, The Killers, and We the Kings. As I grew older, I looked for new sounds and rhythms. There’s something special about enjoying music crafted by people passionate about its creation. These musicians are not in it for the money, but rather produce music for the entertainment and the emotion.

Entering my freshman year at Brown, I had the misconception that my music taste was eclectic. After all, no one at home listened to what I did. A few weeks into school, I was doing homework with some friends and decided to play some music out loud. After a few lyrics, one friend said, “Oh yeah, I know this song! I love it.” It was an incredible feeling, having that sense of camaraderie over music.

Last year, I was working at the Ivy Room and one of my co-workers had control of the music. She turned on a song and I recognized the beat instantly. “On Our Way” by The Royal Concept was blasting from behind the counter. I turned to look at her and said, “You know The Royal Concept?” She responded, “Know them? Try love them! Their latest album is incredible!” We bonded over our obsession with them and our desire to see them in concert.

At Brown, indie music is everywhere. I am constantly being invited to concerts at Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel—I’ve seen Lorde, Walk the Moon, Passion Pit, and Cold War Kids. When I walk into the Blue Room, I almost always hear a song I recognize, and, if I don’t know it, I enjoy its sonic experimentation and work hard to find out the name.

In the last two years at Brown, I have become more confident in my music style. Much like eleven years ago, I still walk around with headphones on, jamming to alternative music. It’s always a great conversation starter. This fall, I was in the Blue Room, doing work and listening to music. As I was feeling the music and grinding out some reading, my friend came up to me and leaned over to see what was on my computer. My Spotify was up and I was listening to the Glitterbug album by The Wombats. Homework forgotten, we started talking  about music. We gave each other recommendations and searched through our playlists. The collaborative nature of Brown makes it an incredible community in which to explore music. My passion for music has further grown, and my exploration of sound beats on.