On November 11, at the MAMA Gallery, I had the immense pleasure of being able to experience the work of indie artist and cult hero, Daniel Johnston in person. I first heard of Daniel Johnston when one of my favorite musicians mentioned
him in an interview, so I decided to look Johnston up. I’ll have to admit, his
music was unexpected, and to be honest, it sounded like he recorded his songs
in a cupboard, but it was that same low quality rawness that instantly piqued my
interest. The first song I heard from Johnston was called “The Story of an
Artist.” And from there my fascination grew. Johnston’s lyrics were uncensored. He sang of love and life and artistry. Although his music was uncomplicated and quite simple, I had never heard anything like it. He didn’t seem to care
about money or mainstream success, he cared about the lyrics and the music. The young and troubled Daniel Johnston moved to Austin, Texas and began to pass out his cassette tapes– that he
recorded in his mother’s basement– to anyone that was willing to listen. I
found this ambition and the style in which he worked inspiring; he just wanted
to create art, whether that be through his drawings, his video recordings, or through his music. Johnston suffers from mental illness, but I tend not to focus on that aspect of his life too much because, not to belittle his illness, he is much more than his diagnosis. Daniel Johnston was one of the first totally DIY artists that I became
interested in and I am sure many have a similar experience. I love that his work will live forever and it will
continue to encourage people of all generations to create, even if they feel like they do not
have the “proper” tools to do so (i.e: in Johnston’s case, proper recording tools).
The MAMA Gallery in Los Angeles showcased a Daniel Johnston exhibit featuring
his art and a short film called “Hi How’re You Daniel Johnston?” The film was directed
by Gabriel Sunday, and featured artists Lana Del Rey and Soko. Del Rey covered
one of Johnston’s many beautiful songs called “Some Things Last a Long Time,” while
indie French artist, Soko played the character of Daniel’s love interest, and the topic of many songs, Laurie. The film took the viewers into Johnston’s mind and we had the pleasure
of meeting Johnston’s iconic cartoon frog, Jeremiah. The film took us back to
the past to Johnston’s basement where the Daniel Johnston of 2015 met the
Daniel Johnston of 1983 while he was recording
one of his most famous tapes, “Hi How Are You?” The exhibit was a great
representation of the living cult hero, and I am so lucky to have had a chance
to experience his art and music in real person. If you haven’t had a chance to
listen to Daniel Johnston yet, I highly suggest you do because he might just
impact your life, or your creative mind, like he’s impacted mine.
�1(�S]y�� *Photos taken by Silver Destouet @shotbysilver*
Youth Lagoon are one of my favorite bands, simply because they have a sound that is absolutely stellar. Because Bent Denim’s Caitlin sounds so much like Youth Lagoon, I think I may be able to add the song to my list of favorites.
I know I’ve posted a ton of summer-y music recently, but I just keep on finding more and more good stuff! Kane Strang’s Scarlet King Magnolia is yet another track to add to all your summer daze playlists.
Sorry for my absence this last week or two! Hope I can make up for it with this absolutely phenomenal track. Toronto-based Denim Skeletons came onto my timeline, and they immediately caught my ear with their track Bully. Looking forward to what they put out next!