The Rhythm of LA’s Music Community Beats Strong
We believe in originality, and we believe that when you are the truest version of yourself you will be unquestionably authentic. But we also believe in looking to our predecessors for inspiration and as a means to better understand the trajectory of human nature. Such is the plight of the musician, writing novelty and keeping it fresh, while also giving a nod to their peers who are walking alongside them, and to the powerful icons who have already made their way down this path less traveled.
With a language all their own, that others can hear but not necessarily speak, music artists form an extraordinary Los Angeles subculture. They give voice to their generation, to our shared humanity, and create the priceless soundtrack to our existence. They bring the sound, light and energy of our insides to our outsides, and in doing so bear an often overlooked burden of our world—expression.
“You have to have an open mind and just dive in,” says Rodney, who’s been making tunes since he was 16 years old. He grew up around the country, but at heart he’s a family man, with his throwback style a hat tip to his grandfather, and his fondest memories harkening back to family reunions in Oklahoma.
While the personalities to be found within his community—from rock and pop to rap and country—couldn’t be more diverse, what brings them together is a shared understanding of, and respect for, each of their genres’ histories. They may be creating sounds and poetry about their own personal experiences, heartbreaks and triumphs, but not without the acknowledgement of those who came before them.
And not without the confidence to look to one another for inspiration. “Moving around, moving out here, was scary, but there’s a sense of people encouraging you on,” Rodney recounts. “There’s always going to be someone to help you, and that’s a beautiful thing about California.”
Rodney calls the city of Los Angeles the “big leagues,” and that’s because it’s home to landmark venues like the Henry Fonda Theatre, the Troubadour, the Roxy, the Hollywood Bowl, the Palladium and the Greek Theatre. The list goes on and on, with each location embodying an oral history fluent in the dynamics of this subculture.
Some artists, like Beyoncé, harness their lyrics to create a shame-free, hear-me-roar space within which to articulate what is habitually left unsaid—the struggles of motherhood, infidelity and gender. Others, like Jimi Hendrix, become masters of their instruments. His innate talent coupled with unerring dedication allowed him to create a new and richer vocabulary for the electric guitar, one which empowered him to give voice to the zeitgeist of the 60s.
Like the microphones they hold, musicians are conduits for feelings, creating, connecting and reflecting the popular culture. Their appearance is a part of their sound, a part of their performance, and feeds into this powerful demonstration of emotion. The manner by which they groom and the care they take with their appearance helps create a persona they don as a means of expression. As 16-year barbering innovator Julius “Julius Caesar” Arriola puts it, “As a musician, it’s important to find inspiration from the legendary forefathers of the game, and innovate new waves for today’s era. This pertains not only through developing sounds, but custom-tailored imagery as well, even with the choice of hairstyle.”