Notes on a return

It’s a new day honey, why don’t you step on out and enjoy the weather?

I try not to forget, but the details are fuzzy now. It was late at night, or maybe early in the morning (archival data suggests the former). The cheap notebook computer whirred on my lap, slowly roasting my testicles as my cursor blinked obediently in an unoccupied address bar. I checked my phone. No texts. Facebook. 0 notifications. Radio silence.

So I did that thing we all do: I went wandering. To me it’s the digital equivalent of jumping out of the house and catching a train to anywhere. Perhaps I was looking for trouble. Perhaps I was looking for something to entertain me before I slipped back to sleep. Nonetheless, I found neither – instead stumbling upon WordPress and starting up a blog:

15 April 2010 23:25:45
kataboom –
I’m not really the blogging type. I’m a bit too shit with words to be honest. In any case, at times I want to share what’s on my mind, so this is my platform I guess. This blog is going to be music, pictures, and a few clumsy words all from yours truly, signed and sealed delivered. with a kiss, and a fuck off. No frills. No bullshit. Much Love, kata!x

And that was that.

I started out posting pictures, then writing in more depth about my favourite artists and their albums, before finally on to more contemporary subject matter. No longer was I jotting out my thoughts late at night, speaking to the wind. A few people actually started reading.

It was a little after the Wild West era of the blogosphere (kill me for using that word), but the alluring possibility of one post going viral and stapling my shitty scrawlings onto every blogroll on the planet still didn’t seem too far-fetched. In the way that a well designed game does, blogging hooked directly into my brain’s reward system, refusing to let go. This was it – my route to fame, finally. And through what better medium than my own opinions? Perhaps with a good enough piece, I could snag an interview with someone important. Maybe I could actually scoop an exclusive. What if I could be as big as Hyperbole?

For a while it was all good – the pageviews exploded, the comment sections became more and more populated. It became ingrained in my daily routine. It sculpted my future ambitions. I went from being interested in a career in science, to wanting to write or make music, for life. I skipped sleep to write. I skipped meals to listen to the latest albums, or check my email for fresh press kits. Hitting the Publish button on a fresh post gave me a palpable dopamine hit. I felt fulfilled. Things were perfect.

But then it all began to collapse. Any initial suspicions about things appearing too good to be true came to fruition. The fabled promised land of the blog – the digital homestead, if you will, was a mirage. Either you were fighting for scraps rejected from bigger blogs, or dancing dangerously with dated labels who desperately desired to see a 404 or takedown notice adorning your homepage. The ever-growing tide of music became more and more demanding to review. Given the competition, my writing hobby began to slip through my fingers. As in any field, the big just got bigger, whilst my blog… Well it was becoming a bit of a chore.

I dropped out of blogging in 2012, I think. School was dragging me down. I had commitments I wasn’t fulfilling. Writing was a waste of time. Or at least, that’s how I think I thought at the time. The competition was too organised, omniscient. Without advertising rev and the instant feedback I craved, it just seemed a worthless endeavour. In short, it had lost exactly what had made it fun to write in the first place. Maybe the readers picked up on that too, because the hits kept falling, so I did the sensible thing and decided to end it. I set up a Tumblr page, made a shitty excuse and said I was selling it to someone else, before promptly logging out, never to return. Until now.

Welcome to 2015. I’m out of touch. My music library has gone from last season to prehistoric. Shuffle fails to bring anything new, or exotic, or exciting to my ears. I question whether I’m getting old. I find myself in another late night wander… or maybe it finds me, and suddenly I’m perusing the haunts of yore – desperately searching for new music and engaging writers. The outlook is grim. Redthreat: dead. Squeegiesounds: dead. Electrorash: dead. Vacay Wave: unknown. Hipster Runoff: sold. Really? How the fuck am I supposed to get my fix?

Maybe I’m just looking in the wrong places. Indeed, there are a few lucky blogs from that time that are still alive: passion projects like Optimistic Underground and WFLM for example; or the sites that were really smart and diversified early, creating labels or merch to keep afloat. There are even some newcomers to scene, which is encouraging to see. But as far as I can tell, these are few and far between. This is a well-documented phenomenon. People go to Majestic for new music now, not Chromekids. YouTube and Twitter and Instagram and Vine and Facebook and Pinterest and so many more have each chipped away at the erstwhile pantheon of music blogging. People want to know what Anthony Fantano thinks, not Carles. Let’s face it, the blogging community as a whole is a lot smaller. But maybe that’s not a bad thing, because it keeps quality up. The only people left are those doing it out of love, or those with pretty shiny magazine-esque branding. To give an analogy, if it were a Hollywood studio, the blogging community would greenlight fewer films, but those that did get greenlit would have ridiculously large budgets. Sounds familiar, huh?

Facing the barren wasteland of what I’d loved (yes, I know I’m being melodramatic), I came to the understanding that this time no-one was going to spoon-feed me new music the old way. Moreover, there must be other people like me out there, searching fruitlessly for some new listening material. Sure, there’s The Hype Machine, but where’s the human touch in a faceless aggregation service? I didn’t want a glossy web-magazine: they’re great, but just not for me. I wanted something I could connect with. Something that didn’t go through a billion editors before publication. I realised that if I wanted to explore and expand my tastes, I’d have to start with myself. So here I am. Something’s been missing in my life, maybe this is it: Writing. Music. Structure.

Of course, the doubts surface: after all this time away, who’ll be reading? My writing isn’t what it was. Without brutal, self-imposed deadlines, things tend to slip. There’s a chance I’ll drop out again. Some of these still hold, but I’ve been meaning to return, so here I am. I wince as I say this, but blogging changed my life. It sculpted my future ambitions and taste in music – both of which I regard as integral parts of my identity. Writing Kataboom got me to learn about art, music, design. With that in mind, I’m happy to embrace it once more, even if we meet under troubled circumstances.

I’m not exactly sure how to continue. I can’t promise the same format as before (I’m more interested in opinion pieces now). I do have some interesting ideas that could shake things up though, given time. There are a couple of companion works of mine, which I’ll eventually introduce too. We’ll see. For now, I’ll just take it one post at a time.

It’s nice to see you again.

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