A few years ago I would have considered myself strictly a “hardcore kid.” For whatever reason, I only wanted to listen to music that screamed in my ears about whatever issue happening in the singer’s life, whether a social issue or their own. This attitude was coupled with my overall standoff nature in regards to meeting new people or being surrounded by musical acquaintances. It turned into a lot of situations that involved me begging for people to hear the musical beauty in music, regardless if it encompassed someone assaulting you with their screams, yells or even howls. Looking back on it, I still find heavy music to flow within my natural energy, as showcased by my love for Every Time I Die. But that’s not what this is about, I since have opened my ears — subsequently opening my heart — to a whole new world.

Two years ago, I wanted to start writing about music. I sought out albums that challenged my old hat style of “heavy and in your face” and I started learning how to associate adjectives/verbs/sentence structures about what I was hearing. Every week I was browsing music sites finding new things that were current and just being released. It was an odd thing to force myself into, but it gave me a new spirit and creative identity to follow. I continued this for another year and a half, listening to new music and writing about it across plenty of sites. That hardcore shell still had not broke, and why would it? Plenty of heavy records came out that were captivating, like One Of Us Is The Killer, From Parts Unknown, Disgusting, Heavy Fruit, and Nonstop Feeling; to name a few.

I’ve written about this to people and spoke about it to fellow friends, but it was one night in August of 2015 where I collapsed farther than I have ever before when I actually felt music hear me. After driving home and texting my best friend “I want to die,” and passing out for hours. I awoke to the feeling of not being able to sleep and then put on a record I was interested in reviewing during a night walk. It was After by Doe Paoro. At one point during the walk I was under a street lamp and the problems stopped hitting me in the face. I felt there, living, breathing and listening. Upon diving into the sea of luscious soundscapes that was that record, I began the process of shedding my “fuck off” attitude and began searching for the person that was inside.

I can’t attribute my entire perceptive change to one record, but it definitely was the stepping stone. I began meditating, I started seeking ways to soothe the beaten and torn soul that I called my own. Instead of constantly battering my ears with aggression (which I still do, just not as often) I ached to find music that held a higher power, that bled with urgency and most of all, captivated passion. I reignited the fire that had since burned out within myself and felt a drive to be aware rather than awake. I began nurturing myself and seeking ways to feel better, starting with what sounded more lively.

This began the troubling and deep introspective process of figuring out what sings to me vs. what sings at me. Since, it has been a world full of crisscrossed genres where I listen to music differently, I see people respectfully and view myself in a new light. I forced myself to stop worrying about the weight of the world inherently trying to suffocate me and instead wanted to walk through life without thinking about positives/negatives, instead just trying to grasp onto beauty. Welcome to Currently Streaming’s “How Music Changed…” series, in which I dispel any former past judgments of myself and lens the world of music into how it has helped me — and hopefully you — into loving oneself.