014. On Radiohead and Loneliness
At this point in the process of making this documentary, I think I've spoken with upwards of 50 fans - whether it be formal, sit-down interviews, on the fly talks in line or at festivals, Skype calls. The most fascinating and comforting thing about this entire experience has been that, it doesn't matter where you are from, what language you speak, what type of family you come from - the lot of us are universally bonded by this one thing.
But often, people ask me, are there any commonalities between Radiohead fans? Are there any common traits that you seem to find across the board? Is there something deeper, and more ingrained in personality than just purely being struck by this music?
Anxiety, absolutely. But to be honest, also feelings of loneliness. This is NOT everyone, and I am in no way imposing a stereotype of a Radiohead fan, because the truth is that this band is so far reaching, it is impossible to do so. That is what I love so much about them and why I feel like making a documentary centered on fans is warranted - but as I've realized this trend, I think it has also caused for me to reflect on myself.
Growing up, I did feel alone. My family was always different. My mom was a Peruvian immigrant and I lived in a town of white people. I, myself, am white, so this added to a confusion, identity crisis I've struggled with throughout my life. I could never fit into a box. As kids, we were never allowed us to go over friends' houses like my peers could (something I've heard from other Latinx friends as well). I grew up with two of my Peruvian cousins living in my house, one of which I considered like a sibling - the topic of my first short film, Invisible Sister. A person who had a great hand in shaping my personality in my formative years, partially responsible for my lifelong passion about music - and someone who is no longer in my life.
I don't often think of my past, my childhood. I'm a "move forward" type of person and it often unearths past painful feelings - but in reflecting on my upbringing - I never felt like I fit. Aside from cultural differences that already had me feeling further from kids at school - other personal, family issues left me feeling alone, withdrawn - seeking solace in music as a means to survive; as something to relate to, something that understood how I felt - because no one around me seemed to. When you're a pre-teen, ages 11-13, it's a hard enough part of your life figuring out who you are and where you belong in this world - but when you add crippling tensions at home to the list, turbulence, and feeling as though you were being forced to grow up much quicker than everyone around you - there were times I felt desperately lost and depressed. Music is what got me through this, and I think why I forge such deep personal connections with it - why I get so passionate about it and can feel it in my soul. I'm almost nothing without it and it will never not be a huge part of who I am.
Now as an adult - of course I have grown out of this to some extent. My family has grown and dispersed. I can tell my parents that I love them. I have great friends. I could occasionally and selectively classify myself as an extrovert. I have an amazing job. I am working on my ultimate passion project. I'm where I should be, and life is good - even with being super busy and constantly anxious. But somewhere inside of me, I think still lingers that lonely, goth pre-teen. That person who still feels like I don't quite belong anywhere - who is empathetic to that sentiment in others. A person that, even surrounded by loads of wonderful people every day, people who care about me - still feels alone.
Even though Radiohead wasn't on my radar or my source of solace growing up - even though I discovered that joy later in life - I think my past is still a huge part of why I connect so much with them, reflecting on it. Today, in an age where interpersonal connections aren't always necessary, and that we are all plugged in constantly - it's easy to hide behind an Instagram-able facade of happiness. It's easy to pretend like you're okay, easy to suppress how you truly feel, compare yourself to others, push people away and hide. But I think one of the most impactful things about these shows (when people aren't filming them on their phones), is that you're living a real, raw and honest human experience. Those are too rare now. They shouldn't be.