We Made Fans of Various Genres Confront Their Worst Stereotypes
Sorry guys, it's time to face Google search's autocomplete suggestions.
Photo by Jacek Karczmarczyk
Music is the last bastion of enjoyment without an ulterior motive. If you're willing to enjoy the "art" and close your eyes to the mess of the deeply cynical industry, there's no insidiousness, no shady stuff, just you and those sweet, sweet sounds. The concept of deep fandom is simple: your extreme devotion to the celebrity or artist you stan for is so deep and unrelenting that it transcends all planes of appreciation and ends up in the corner of the Internet that knows how much Beyonce's twins weighed at birth.
But, that passion creates a side-effect: negative stereotypes. And Google knows them all – its autocomplete algorithm finishes sentences you start about just about any kind of fan of any genre of music. For that reason, when you start typing "why are metal fans" some of the autocomplete responses that may first pop up are "so elitist", "so stupid" and "so hopelessly stuck in the past". So, what happens when you confront music's biggest stans with the weight of their own bad stereotypes? How self-important are jazz stans, really? Do metal stans genuinely just sit around wanking all day to blackened riffs? And why the hell are techno bros so patronising? I held a mirror to these tropes and asked the questions the biggest heads don't want to answer.
"JAZZ FANS ARE PRETENTIOUS"
Noisey: Hi, jazz fan. What's your least favourite stereotype about being a jazz fan?
Laurie, 27: That it's over-complicated and that you need to be a nerd to understand it or even want to play it, and that as a result, it's soulless or mechanical. Also that berets and goatees are an acceptable lifestyle choice.
Do you own a beret or have a goatee?
Fuck no. I had a goatee once, though, and it only amplified the jazz lifestyle.
So you're a virgin?
What's with jazz fans being super fucking humourless about everything they do?
It might be that the music does lend itself to careful listening or study, so fans are a lot more hopped up on the chord changes and geek out about it unironically.
Do jazz fans even have fun at shows? Do you dance?
Jazz is a way of life. Sometimes it feels like jazz fans get out of the house and it's the only thing we can talk about. If someone's dancing at a jazz show, it's probably not real jazz they're listening to. Have you ever danced to 13/8?
No, but I can slut drop to 7/8. So, tell me about how you like to patronise people with your encyclopedic knowledge of jazz.
It's just very powerful shit, and jazz is just made for this kind of interpretation. Every chord progression can have a "did you know that actually every third round, the final flat 11 switches to a sharp third down the octave" attached, and that strokes my boiler.
Will remember that for the future, thanks.
"WHY ARE METAL FANS SO ELITIST?"
Noisey: Hi Joe, why are metal fans such purists?
Joe, 21: It's not widely accepted in within society to be a metal fan, so people end up rejecting other lifestyles that rejected them for their taste.
I mean, elitism is a running theme in metal.
Metal fans are massive nerds with no social skills so they pretend they don't talk to anyone because they don't get other tastes, but in reality it's because the thought of speaking to other humans makes them break out in hives.
What is it about metal that makes its fans so socially inept, then?
Something about songs called "Stripped, Raped and Strangle" or "Entrails Ripped From A Virgin's Cunt" attracts that strange kid from school who used to stare and sweat a lot feel at home for some reason.
Were you the strange kid who stared and sweated a lot?
Good to hear. How true is the stereotype that metal dudes spend a lot of time masturbating in their mom's basement?
More than you'd hope or expect. The world of basement-dwelling metal heads is nothing more than stickiness and matted hair.
Are you one of those dudes?
Has being a metal stan ever negatively affected you?
Not that I can think of. The people who would hold it against you tend to be Grade A pricks anyway, so I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything. Do get some funny looks from people handing out religious flyers, though…
Thanks Joe, stay metal.
"ARE HIP-HOP FANS TOO DEMANDING?"
Noisey: What's with "real hip-hop" stans hating the mainstream?
Kervan, 26: Because it's just fucking wack. Man, rappers used to say something before, really make a mark in the world, now they're all just mumbling and shouting "SKRRRR" on top of shitty Ableton beats.
I'm guessing you don't like "Man's Not Hot". Or, like, anything in the US charts.
Do you like your hip-hop more political?
Yeah, I really fuck with that. Keep it fucking real, y'know?
So you don't think Kendrick is political?
Kendrick is fake-mainstream. He's popular but he doesn't act like mainstream rappers like Young Thug or Drake or whoever the fuck else is trying to step up to the game.
Alright. What's the beef between old school and new school and why do hip-hop fans care so much?
Because it was the golden era of hip hop. Production sounded more organic, content matter was way more intellectual and the flow in general was better to vibe to. Nowadays I can't tell what anyone's saying, so how am I meant to connect? I can't find anything good and new to listen to, so I stick with the old school stuff for the heads.
But how can you look for something new that's good if you're so stuck in the past?
I don't care. Next question.
Do you dislike rock music like a lot of other hip hop fans?
What hip-hop stereotype do you hate the most?
The one where people assume the real hip-hop heads fuck with this new shit, too. It's giving us real heads a bad rep. I don't think hip-hop existed past 1999. There you go. I said it. Fuck with me.
I think I'm good, but thanks Kervan.
"ARE COUNTRY MUSIC FANS RACIST?"
Noisey: Good day, Harry. Why does country music all sound the same?
Harry, 28: It's all "three chords and the truth" so there's a limited amount of musicality to country music compared to other genres. You get melodies that repeat and the same instrumentation and production choices that get used again and again.
Why do you like country music, if it's so repetitive?
Mostly, I like narrative songs, and with country you get very bleak, sad stories a lot. And I do like guitars. I still think acoustic guitars mostly sound great and they get a bad rep. Acoustic guitars forever.
Why are country singers so goddamn whiney? We get it, your baby left you and now you're drinking whiskey and strumming a guitar.
Maybe because they want to have the blues but for white people. Maybe because alcohol is a depressant and they've drunk too much of that aforementioned whiskey.
Do you just love earnest white men with guitars?
How do you feel about the very real association between country music and white supremacy? Read: Ted Nugent.
I guess you just disavow that element of your scene and try to call them out when you can.
Do you ever feel embarrassed about being a country fan? A lot of people hate country music.
Not unless you go to the one of those American nights at the Betsey Trotwood full of old Londoners wearing cowboy hats and singing in Texan accents.
Wow, that sounds terrible. Thanks Harry!
"WHY ARE POP FANS SO ANNOYING"
Noisey: Why aren't pop fans taken seriously in the music world?
Shambhavi, 23: When you think of a pop star, you mainly think of a female pop stars like Britney or Ariana, and there's a certain disinterest because they cater mainly to young, impressionable girls who apparently can't detect talent or musically intellectual. And that's perpetuated by mainly dudes. They think we fall for the shininess of it all and that's it.
Do you consider yourself shallow for liking pop music?
No, because even though I listen to other genres besides pop, pop is what makes me feel the happiest and sexiest. If that makes me shallow, then so be it, but it's what makes me feel confident as a woman so I don't really give a shit.
What's your least favourite stereotype about pop music fans?
That we're uncultured and don't enjoy "finer" things, because apparently pop music isn't deep or intellectually stimulating. And this is definitely attributed mainly to female artists – pop music is seen as a largely female thing. If a song makes me want to get up, shake my ass and makes me feel hot, that doesn't make me easy, dumb or slutty.
Has anyone ever put that stereotype on you?
I went on a date last weekend and we were talking about going out and the music we like, so I said I love pop music, letting loose, singing and grinding with dudes. You should have seen his face.
What do you say to people who think pop music doesn't require "real talent"?
I'd say please go watch a Beyonce video and then get back to me.
"WHY DO PEOPLE LIKE TECHNO?"
Noisey: Why do techno fans take themselves so seriously?
Phil, 31: The real question is why don't you take yourself seriously as a music fan?
I'm a serious music fan, but maybe I'm just not as earnest as you'd like me to be.
What's the point in liking something if you're not going to give it your all? Have some fucking passion.
Why do techno fans have an incessant need to talk about technical gear with people who clearly aren't interested, or maybe not in the know?
Sorry, but if you're gonna talk to a techno fan about techno, do your research before and catch up. It's an intellectually competitive genre to be a fan of, and you're always gonna get called out on not knowing the technicalities behind it because it's the most technically challenging genre.
But it might be off-putting or intimidating for someone who needs the space to get into techno on their own. Do you really need to know how a piece of music is technically made to enjoy it?
Too many people think they can just roll up and claim techno as theirs because of the lifestyle around techno – going out, clubs, drugs – when they don't even know what a fucking BPM is. Now anyone can become a techno DJ on SoundCloud without having any real talent or grasp on what techno really is. It's wrong.
I think most people know what a BPM is because of, like, your heart. As a techno fan, do you hate that everyone assumes you're a SoundCloud DJ?
No, I think SoundCloud is a way of life for a musician – especially an electronic one.
Okay, so you're a SoundCloud DJ then. Nothing wrong with that.
Just fuck off.
Thanks for your time, Phil!
You can find Rachel enjoying a wide variety of genres on Twitter.