The stories we tell ourselves in order to live

originally published as a goodbye editorial at thefourohfive.com

A dear friend of mine once asked me how I managed to write about music. Not wanting to cite that tired Bowie quote about dancing and architecture, and understanding where his curiosity was coming from since he was a film critic himself, I explained I wrote about music as if it was film, and about film as if it was music: it all comes down to opening yourself to the virtually infinite shapes and forms of beauty around you, and being able to describe the process as accurately as possible through an honest discourse. Because ultimately, and as Norman O. Brown once wrote, meaning is not in things but in between them.

Truth is, I started writing pretty late. I didn’t come from humanities or journalism or any other similar field (something a fellow journalist whose work I highly respect always said was a good thing as it meant “no vices”), and never before in my life had I considered making a career out of it. I was, and always will be, primarily a musician, with a Fine Arts degree constantly reminding me to look at the world from a different perspective than the one we’re usually offered — an advice which proved to be immensely valuable in the way I approach life in general and writing in particular.

English is not my first language either: after a brief spot as a columnist at the now defunct Elegy Iberica magazine in my early 20s, I started to write about art and literature for the (also extinct) culture website Rascunho, organically graduating to music and film as well since I had way too much to say and was impatient about doing so. Rascunho died a natural death in mid-2013 — and that’s when I finally did the crossover. Not much of a story really, just simple and direct like everything that matters in life: I asked Oliver, he said yes. A year later I was associate editor.

Over the years the 405 predictably became a home, but I did try that didn’t mean a crutch to lean on: I knew it would never be forever, but with the shopfront of my life constantly changing in the sometimes unpredictable, always unreliable manner I’ve learned to accept and love, the site was a teenage attic and sanctuary of sorts where I was given carte blanche to think and write freely and without restrictions — which is, after all, the right way to grow. My extended international family kept expanding and connections were made and lost, and I often felt I had been given a one-way ticket to an invisible vortex, only known to those inhabiting it and indescribable to anyone else. But a bubble is always a bubble, and sometimes we forget we need to pop it open and see what else lies outside — otherwise who are you writing for but yourself?

When I first got the news that my attic would be permanently closed due to the building being put up for AirBnb rental, I silently vowed I would never be this faithful to a place again. Hell, for a second there I even considered to quit music writing altogether as a form of protest. But deep down I knew that could never be a real possibility, and that no matter how many breaks, short or long, spontaneous or self-imposed, I might choose to take throughout my life, I would always come back to it eventually.

Last summer I went on the Belle & Sebastian cruise, and talking to a fellow music industry colleague during an unreal late night at the casino as we watched an old gentleman in a vintage ADIDAS shirt and flip-flops casually lose thousands in roulette, I commented the entertainment business is just like Hotel California: you can check out anytime you like but you can never leave. Music writing is exactly the same.

Over and out, guys. Over and out.

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