By John Sanchez – Cougar News Contributor
Corporate America has made its claim in the Santa Clarita Valley, shoving human life into a mapped out grid. But at least they gave us a mall to ease the suffering of modern suburban living. We live in a city devoid of music, fine art and film, but there are individuals who strive to bring culture to our society.
At the top of Bouquet Canyon Road overlooking the quaint suburban homes of the Santa Clarita Valley, Rock Candy Music and More stands alone as the last independently owned record store in the SCV.
You can stand outside of Rock Candy’s glass windows and smell the sweet aroma of incense burning. Rows of lonely CDs and LPs beckon to you as you press your face against the glass, fogging up the window. A feeling of warmth and mystery overcomes you as you step into the haven for music lovers. The feeling is almost church-like. Strange sounds coming from the stereo bombard your ears as you are greeted by vast smiles and friendly voices.
Since its opening in August of 2010, Rock Candy has been offering not only CDs, LPs and DVDs to the consuming public, but also gives a stage to local acoustic acts making Rock Candy one of the only venues in Santa Clarita.
Owners Billy and Melissa Yergensen have been in the music business for nine months working in various record shops and radio stations. The town has been very supportive of us being here,” said Melissa Yergensen. “It brings attention to a culture that does exist here in SCV. This town has a bunch of talent that just needs to be discovered.”
In 1999, John and Shawn Fanning created a website that changed the way music would be distributed, bought and listened to. The creation of Napster brought a new generation of mass file sharing and the ability to download your favorite songs instantaneously. Since the introduction of iTunes in 2001, the consuming public has seen a sharp decline of independently owned record stores and the purchase of CDs and vinyl is almost unheard of.
“Some of the younger customers don’t get it,” said Yergensen. “You can’t admire the artwork on a digital download.”
A double-blind experiment that was conducted in January 2004 of six MP3 encoders noted that the iTunes encoder came last, in that the quality of the files produced by iTunes was below par. In more casual terms, music is at its worst quality when put on iTunes. Wanting a convenient and instant way of listening to music has a definite price and it’s up to the listener to decide between convenience and quality.
A funny thing happens when your hands wrap around a new vinyl and your fingers caress the intricate artwork on the cover. You hold a piece of that artist’s soul. It is tangible. Expression in the purest form has manifested itself for your listening pleasure. This feeling cannot come about by pirating that album off of the internet. The artist, his art and the listener are confined by the claustrophobic dimensions of a compressed music file.
But what is art? How do we define such a broad term? Is art a mere tool that people use to prey on others’ sympathies in order to make money? Or is art defined in more romantic terms such as the expression of an individual’s soul? Subjectivity is the reason for such an ill fitting definition. Art is an amoeba; it holds different meanings with different people making a true critique of it impossible.
I encourage all of you, dear readers, to create something. Something that defines you and the feelings you have. If a deep feeling of passion and primal lust washes over you, write a love song. When you feel yourself sinking into an insoluble state of depression, paint a gloomy picture. On days when rage and angst are the only graspable emotions, write an angry poem.
Too many people define art as a means of making money. “Corporate” art can be seen in malls, heard in coffee shops and read in magazines. This art holds no substance and has no value, brainwashing people who are easily manipulated by the mainstream media. Expressive music, film, paintings and literature fall upon deaf and blind members of a neglectful culture.
My request is simple: As a people, we need to encourage those who make art by providing a nurturing and positive outlet for them to explore themselves and the talents they have. “A community is about promoting from within and that is what we want to be remembered for. We are happy when we see talent and we just want to share it with others!”