by Louie Pearlman
My friend Robin is an electronic musician. He is 20 and trying, like so many of us, to figure out what to do, how to be a positive creative force. I got an unexpected phone call from him recently after not having chatted with him in quite a while. He is intense and distracted: a kid genius whose head teems with too many ideas.
Robin started asking me my opinion on his new music. But I haven't heard it yet so we end up talking in abstract terms about electronic arpeggios and other musical devices that may work, or may not, depending on different circumstances.
I gave Robin two pieces of advice. One is for him to send me his new stuff so we can have a proper conversation about it. And two, to stop asking for opinions.
I am trying lately to always create first and foremost for myself. If you are doing something that is for yourself, the correct audience will eventually find you, will identify, and a connection will occur.
I brought up my most favorite song of all time, a simple, silly and fun pop song from the year I was born. Genius of Love by Tom Tom Club.
Genius of Love is perfect. It has the best hook, rhythm guitar, and bass line. About a girl who is in love with a hip boy who likes Bootsy Collins, it swerves back and forth like the sensuous grinds of a four-way-hipped dancer. Genius is so amazingly genuine it becomes flawless, because it doesn't try to impress. It doesn’t try to be heady or complicated. Genius is pure love and joy.
Genius’ mommy and daddy, Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth, went off to the Bahamas and hung out in an island clubhouse. Unmarred by outside influences, they conceived the miracle that is Genius of Love. A little later, they returned to the island clubhouse and unmarred by outside influences conceived the miracle that is Robin. Robin and Genius of Love come from the same man and the same woman.
But it takes me to cite Genius for Robin to remember its very existence. He grew up so close to his musical sibling, changing his life in more direct ways than mine that he may not so quickly look to Genius for inspiration. Like reading a book and holding it too close to your face: Robin can’t see the overall picture if he’s focusing too much on the fiber of the letters.
But what’s important about Robin hearing the praises of Genius from me is that it’s a connection. I look up to Genius as everything that I want my artistic work to be, but I am not a musician. And Robin will have to look outside of music for his influences. Perhaps at some point he’ll look to the comedy that I do and I’ll look to his music and that elusive collaboration will occur. But in the meantime, we are making discoveries with the familiar (in the most literal sense of the word) and the exotic. Making connections is what makes us human and what makes us artists. Robin and I are learning from each other and attempting to view the world through each other's eyes.
My Tom Tom Club record spins on its platter. Genius of Love slowly transitions into the next track. The cracks and pops of the record are as familiar to me as the songs. How many times has this record spun around since it came into my life when I was 7 months old? How many more times will this record and this song see me change? How many more times will I go to sleep to it and wake up to it? Create to it and destroy to it? It continues on its path, round and round. No beginning. No end. Constantly transitioning with the whirling of a simple pop album.
Louis Pearlman is a comedian and filmmaker from Calgary, Alberta. He currently lives in NYC and can be seen performing with the improv ensemble Feathers and Flannel.