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Notes from an old soul in the Modern Age #1

Sorry folks but you’re going to have to endure my broken English (Please, keep reading with a French accent in your head, it will make it easier to bear with my grammar/syntax). In the coming weeks and months, Hanging On Sunset is going to evolve. We launched this adventure at the beginning of the pandemic and the original project already morphed a few times actually. I guess it keeps maturing and we’re losing a bit of our original candor and naïveté over time. We started it because we were tired of people claiming that « Rock is dead », we wanted to show rock n' roll is alive and well. All we needed - we thought - was to unite people because we could see there were many micro rock scenes all around LA. Maybe we could connect those people? - That was the original idea. We launched the podcast and interviewed lots of indie artists around town but also some bigger profiles (new episodes will be posted soon). We also organized a concert at the Resident but had to cancel the second one due to COVID. It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions, hours of editing content too, and a ton of energy dedicated towards something many might consider a lost cause. And in the end, they might be right. Maybe Rock is really dead. But hey, that’s for the best because we are free to reinvent it the way we want, right? Also, a graveyard might be one of the best places to reflect on life and its meaning.

I came to the conclusion that rock n’ roll is more abstract than I initially thought, but also more profound. It says something about the world we live in and it opposes it in many ways. At least, it should. In pop culture today, rock n’ roll is often reduced to a certain visual aesthetic and the presence of electric guitars — but rock n' roll is about so much more than that. It's a state of mind, a safe haven for every outcast. It has a rich history rooted in the human need for creative expression as a form of rebellion against societal convention. It may not be at the forefront of mainstream culture, but it is still alive. There are pockets of resistance: artists who go beyond surface level perceptions of the genre, and these artists deserve a proper outlet. Our mission is simple: to find and facilitate any trace of genuine rock music here in Los Angeles and beyond. Let's actually build a place for old souls in the modern age.

If rock is dead, then it’s up to us — artists and fans — to reanimate and reinvent it on our own terms. With that said, here are some of our core principles at Hanging On Sunset:

  1. Success is not an indicator of good art, and has never been. Art can be a commercial product, but commercial success is not necessarily an indicator of artistic merit. The line between art and commerce is often blurry, and it’s part of our mission to delve into that.

  2. A true artist exists and thrives outside of trends and genres. Rock n’ roll is more than just tattoos, ripped jeans and electric guitars. It includes the ability to resist the zeitgeist — to question or criticize society’s shortcomings. Any self-proclaimed rock act failing to address this is amputated of its brain.

  3. Rock music is inclusive by nature. It has historically been the voice for people who didn’t have one. Remember that rock n’ roll developed from a mix of gospel, blues, and country music, its early origins tracing back to work songs sung by slaves in the fields. There’s no place for any form of bigotry in rock n’ roll.

  4. That said, rock n’ roll is also a Dionysian powerful cathartic tool. It should be loud and fun — a medium to ecstatically purge ourselves from our daily tragedies.

Following those not so exhaustive principles, Hanging On Sunset’s self-addressed mission is, from now on, to track down any surviving trace of rock n’ roll in the city of angels and account for it. I will totally admit that, at times, I lost track of those principles and these should serve mainly as a reminder for myself.

Life happened and we had to slow down in the last two months but rest assured that Hanging On Sunset is here to stay. We’re gonna keep podcasting because I think it’s important to maintain a conversation with the artists of our community but we’re going to develop new formats too. I personally want to write more about the shows I see, about the encounters I make, about my daily experiences and thoughts because I think it helps paint a more accurate portrait of LA - at least my LA - a never-ending journey of experiences, self-doubt and small victories. Because in the end, Los Angeles might be the main character of this story. "Notes from an old soul in the Modern Age" are going to be opinion pieces driven by my own experiences and the thoughts they generate, they'll be my personal link to you and the place for me to reflect on everything we do here.

I also want more people to get involved in this project and have more voices represented on these pages. We wanted to uncover a community of artists and give them a voice, maybe the best way to do so is to let them express themselves through this burgeoning media. I’m excited to see how this will materialize along the way. Let’s write our story together, using every bit of our collective talent. The beauty of it is anyone can contribute with their own talent and vision because we don’t have a preconceived idea of what this medium should be beyond sharing those few principles.

If you recognize yourself in those words and want to be part of it in any way, please reach out.

- Vincent


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