This is the second installment of our “Keeping Cultured During Quarantine” series. Enjoy these recommendations from TeenTix Newsroom writers about how to fight the collective cabin fever!
I’m a big fan of Kanopy, the criminally underrated streaming service you can access for free with a library card. I recently watched The Way He Looks on the platform, a love story so good it made me giddy. It centers on Leo, a blind teenager with a passion for classical music, and his friendship-turned-romance with Gabriel, the new boy at his school who plays him Belle & Sebastian records. The gorgeous cinematography of São Paulo, the witty conversations, and the honest portrayal of disability are all reasons to watch this film.
There is no better and more important time than now to support independent artists. Let’s face it, while major musical artists are suffering too, independent artists are being hit the hardest by COVID-19 and its effect on the music industry. Many of these artists make their money almost completely by playing live shows, something which is not an option now. What can we do, as consumers and music fans, to help these independent creators function in a turbulent time like this? USE BANDCAMP! For those of you who do not know, Bandcamp is a streaming service, launched in 2007, primarily used by independent artists self-releasing their music. Bandcamp has always been one of the more equitable streaming services out there when it comes to artists receiving money based on their streams and buying music. Fans have paid artists over 470 million dollars since Bandcamp's launch. Usually, Bandcamp has taken 15% of each digital sale. However, due to the impact of coronavirus, Bandcamp has waived these fees. Browse genre tags on Bandcamp for interesting independent releases in the category of your choice.
During this quarantine I’ve been listening to new releases by King Krule, Yves Tumor, and Bladee as well as revisiting one of the most underrated albums ever in my opinion, Album Minus Band by Bomb the Music Industry! I’ve also been listening to new singles by Frank Ocean, Quelle Chris, RMR, Yung Lean, The Strokes, Christine and the Queens, Moses Sumney, and The Garden. I’ve also been watching the series Tiger King: Murder and Madness on Netflix. A show receiving a lot of buzz for it’s entertaining and informative focus on eccentric private zoo owner Joe Exotic. A true crime series like no other. I’ve also taken this opportunity to watch some “classic movies” I had not yet seen. My favorite of the ones I’ve watched has been Kill Bill, Quentin Tarantino’s highly stylized two-part martial arts epic. Other than that I’ve just been doing work, playing music, going on long walks, and trying to stay sane. I hope you all can find some way to do the same.
Due to the quarantine, I’ve found myself engaging with a lot more music than I would usually. It’s gotten me to explore genres of this art form that I wouldn’t have time for otherwise, and they’ve been a wonderful distraction/coping mechanism for the situation at hand. For example, I recently began revisiting an artist called Cavetown, whom I liked a lot when I was younger, and I’ve found that his work is just as calming and beautiful as I remember. He uses nothing but simple guitar chords and his own voice to craft his music, and it’s a refreshing break from a lot of the popular music of today.
Aside from making my own art, I've been listening to a lot of music, especially of the drain spectrum. Artists like Bladee, Yung Lean, Thaiboy Digital, and Ecco2k are part of the drain community, often collaborating on songs and EPs together. Drain isn't really a classifiable genre, but it's definitely somewhat experimental, maybe kind of abstract, and a little bit techno at times. It honestly wasn't something I saw myself getting into, but I started listening last year and here I am! I recommend the song "Spellbound" by Bladee or "Boylife in EU" by Yung Lean to start of drain listening! Also, I've been reading a lot. Currently, I'm reading the book Just Kids by Patti Smith, detailing her life as a young adult in New York City and her relationship with the artist Robert Mapplethorpe. I definitely recommend.
The short stories most resonating with me lately feature a world on the brink of ending. It’s a Good Life. The Boy Who Predicted Earthquakes. Inventory. They’re more about tensions between the characters than the apocalypse. The main characters tiptoe around their feelings. They have outbursts. They’re human. They don’t all have happy endings. Unintentionally, the lack of happy endings has become a strange comfort in contemporary times. Readers, as evidenced by tweets at the authors, aren’t looking for a happier world. They just want one that understands them, and knows how we’re supposed to carry on after all is said and done. These three short stories are a pensive toe-dip into horror, recommended for anyone wanting to get into the genre.
Ironically, even though my passion is filming, before quarantine I had barely any time to watch new movies. Now that's changed, and I finally watched Parasite. It follows a poor family who had been struggling to make money until their son got offered a tutoring job for a rich family's daughter. From there the two families become increasingly entangled, with the economic class clash building friction in every scene. Its quick pacing and its captivating story keeps you engaged from the opening titles to the very end. Aside from the well-written plot the story resonated with me on a personal level; as the former scholarship kid at a private school the subtly acknowledged but palpably present contrast between the lower and upper class was stingingly familiar. Parasite beautifully showcases the symptoms of a far bigger problem.
The art I’ve been engaging with most during quarantine is Classpecting. I’ve loved the personality classification system woven into the mythology of the webcomic Homestuck since I was 13. Classpecting really is an art form—it’s about who you are at the core of your being and how you affect the world. There are 144 titles to have, and countless more nuances, all held together by often wildly differing fan theory. Little did I know that one day my main community would be centered around it. In a stroke of luck, I stumbled across mention of a Classpecting server in early February, joined, and befriended other like-minded internet dwellers. I’m thankful we have these connections to carry us through these trying times.
In times of stress, I find myself turning to reading. Comfort comes primarily from old favorites, like Un Lun Dun by China Miéville. A captivating story for all ages, Un Lun Dun immerses readers in its fantastical world of the lost, the unexpected, and the absurd. This book takes the standard Hero's Journey and actively shreds it. The adventure is prophesied in a carefully structured set of trials and events; the characters know what is supposed to happen in the story. They just decide not to do that. For anyone needing an escape from the current state of the world, this masterfully designed fantasy is highly recommended.