How Can We Give Artists Their Flowers?

Donna and Yoh discuss how we can give artists their flowers—while they are still with us.
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We all love music. That's why we're here, on the page, appreciating music together. But how do we make that love we fans have for music mean something? How can we give artists their flowers while they are still with us? What do flowers even look like in the impersonal streaming era? 

All of these questions—and more—will be answered by our Managing Editor Donna-Claire Chesman, and our Senior Writer Yoh.

Their conversation, lightly edited for content and clarity, follows below.

yoh [12:41 PM]

Good afternoon, Donna. Happy Thursday to you First Lady.

donnacwrites [12:42 PM]

Good afternoon, Yohsipher. I feel like I've lived three full lives today already.

yoh [12:43 PM]

Three full lives? Donna, it's only 12:42 lol. Well, feel free to pick one and tell me what's on the mind of that life.

donnacwrites [12:45 PM]

I've been writing since six! Today, I've been thinking about the act of giving flowers. It seems like artists are displeased with us critics. And I can understand why, but I also understand the importance of critique to keeping the culture alive. Ah, another conversation. 

So, how we can give flowers to artists while they're still with us. What does that even look like during such an impersonal era where socials rule everything around us? Nip's passing and Mac's passing are still heavy on my mind, and I wonder if we gave them their dues while they were alive.

yoh [12:55 PM]

We aren't capable of mentally understanding what someone means to us with them still being here. As I wrote in my Mac tribute piece, "How can we expect to truly appreciate the living when we're all just trying to live?" but, like you, I want to give more roses to those who deserve them. 

One way we do so is by always considering that one day these artists won't be here. To examine each project, song, or show as if there won't be another one tomorrow. Again, the mental capacity to do this is beyond our logic. But I want to go hear this ScHoolboy Q album, and really cherish those moments that touch me. What about you? Have you figured out a solution to this very sensitive subject?

donnacwrites [1:01 PM]

Giving flowers can take so many forms. There is the obvious platform I have on DJBooth to sing the praises of an artist. Then there is my dollar as a consumer, and buying the merch and going to the shows. There are the tweets we can send, and there is the buying of the physical music, so we can have it for all-time when streaming implodes. There are a lot of little things we can do to show an artist we love them. But the most important thing we can do is lead a life that the artist would be proud of. I want my favorite artists to be proud of their fan base. I live my life in a way where I have taken the core lessons from Mac Miller's music and become a better person.

Rico Nasty just dropped Anger Management with Kenny Beats. I have had anger problems throughout my youth. Holes in the walls, chairs being thrown; a rage that builds up in my body that I just cannot control, coupled with terrible anxiety as it's all happening. The lesson I gather from Rico is to embrace the anger and feel through, to breathe through it. I want to be the kind of fan Rico would be proud of, because I want Rico to know her music is not falling on deaf ears. The best thing we can do for artists, perhaps, is to show them we are listening through our actions. That means showing up at concerts, but it also means leading better lives.

yoh [1:12 PM]

Lol, I hear you and respect it. I live outside the idea of a fanbase. Even artists I love like Earl or Wayne or Kendrick, whose music exists as the soundtrack to my life, aren't exactly a blueprint to study and learn from. I really love the idea of how they add something to my life, and being able to express that love is a way of providing flowers. 

In an age that moves so fast, with so much music, how do we remember to slow down and pick the roses that our favorites deserve? Death is able to mute the unimportant and blind us to the unnecessary. We hear and see everything these artists have given us, but without the world of distraction. I spent months deep sea diving through Swimming after Mac passed, something I wouldn't have felt compelled to do if he was here. I made the time because I needed a hole to be healed. 

How do we stay in the space of love and giving love without having to deal with the pain?

donnacwrites [1:15 PM]

By preempting the pain, and remembering how fragile life is. I am like this because, at 17, I had a brain tumor. Ever since then, I am always thinking about slowing down because I learned very early on in my life that life is terribly temporary. I think of music as I think of snacking: once the bag is empty, it's empty. So it's wise to consume with intention, to savor what you have. 

Think about each album you are pressing play on as potentially the last album you'll get from an artist. I know that sounds dire, but when you reframe your listening experience in that way, you can really appreciate the music that much more. A cognizance of pain is how we can act the way we act towards Mac and Nip, without having to go through the pain itself.

yoh [1:20 PM]

Amen. I saw my niece drink a bottle today as if she hasn't eaten in months. My brother said it's because she eats like there will never be another meal. Then she threw up, lol. Somewhere in there is a metaphor for how we consume music or how we should consume music, I'm not sure just yet. When was the last time you did something and felt the act was your way of giving a living artist their flowers?

donnacwrites [1:22 PM]

Every time I write something about an artist—whether they love the piece or ignore it, or lash out. I am giving that artist their flowers because I am showcasing them to the world. They are on my mind, and I want them to be on everyone else's mind as well. Sharing music is giving flowers, people forget that.

yoh [1:27 PM]

I agree to an extent. Maybe because I see writing as something selfish. A selfish artform. If I write something, it's because I wanted to. No one else is considered. This isn't about you, this is about me. When I give flowers, it's for them. Every tribute piece I've written has always come from an unselfish place. It's a separation I know well. Sharing music is an act of giving flowers, though.

donnacwrites [1:29 PM]

Writing is as selfish as it is selfless. It's hard for me to disentangle the two. I write because I have to, and I write because I want to, but I write for other people because I'm very aware the work has legs and a world outside of me. One of my favorite poets, Tommy Pico, describes the work as a handshake. I think very often about the other hand. I want to put flowers into that hand, be it the readers or the artist.

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