What’s your medium?

A conversation with music buffs on why and how they consume songs

Image by: Amna Rafiq
Musical journey's of art consumers tell a story.

Art is everywhere, from our playlists to our clothes to the movies. 

In this column, The Journal will have conversations with connoisseurs of various forms of art to learn about what inspires the Queen’s community. Sol Macmillan, ArtSci ’24, and Mitchell Lupa, ArtSci ’24, chatted about what music means to them. 

“I wanted to be a rockstar when I was a kid,” Macmillan said. 

“I started playing guitar really young but didn’t start having a lot of fun doing it until 13 or 14 when my friends started playing instruments too—it became something for us all to do together.”

As a child, Macmillan was drawn to the guitar solos of Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd—he frequently imagined what it would be like to be on stage with an audience. 

“It’s changed over the years; I more so now play for myself more than anything.” 

Back home in Vancouver, Macmillan and his friends play in a band. What first started out as an excuse for them to hang out turned into a melodic passion project. 

“It was almost a competition in the beginning, going to each jam session and saying ‘guess what I learned this weekend, I bet its better than what you learned’.”

Since first being introduced to psychedelic rock through his father, Macmillan’s taste has gone through quite the journey. 

“From bands like the Grateful Dead I got into Led Zeppelin, which took me into metal, and from there it transitioned into jazz and right now I’d say I’m in an aggressive metal jazz beat.” 

Macmillan told The Journal that he turned to music as a form of expression and this medium being his outlet was the product of what he was exposed to as a child. 

Right now, his favourite song is an 18-minute jazz-rock ballad by Charles Mingus. 

“It’s out of tune so it makes it sound really ominous, it’s just raw emotion and you can tell it was a live performance—you can tell that’s exactly how the musicians were feeling in that moment.”

According to Macmillan, this piece is supposed to be played in tandem with a ballet, so the purposefully out-of-tune recording allows listeners to imagine the dance in sequence with the song. 

Emotion has always played a big part in Macmillan’s intrigue with music. 

“Music, and art in general, can be a blessing and a curse,” he said.

“It’s something you can escape to, but at the end of the day you can get lost in it where a few hours go by of you listening to new music and you realize you haven’t gotten anything done or you’re late for something, but you keep escaping.”

Lupa was first exposed to music at six years old when one of his mother’s friends made him a CD mixtape with 12 songs on it. 

“For a long time, those were the only 12 songs I knew or listened to.” 

Lupa felt connected to the songs because of how much time was spent making the mixtape for him, but didn’t feel attached to the medium until he began connecting songs with moments of reflection. 

“Kanye West’s Yeezus was probably the first album I felt really attached to.” 

Lupa says that music is now an integral part of his life—the process of finding new artists and albums is his favourite part.

His taste has developed from the 12-song mixtape he kept on repeat, to largely hip hop and top 40s, to now finding beauty in all types of music. His favourite songs of late are “Helmet” by Steve Lacy and “Heartbreaker” by Led Zeppelin. 

“I listen to music upwards of five hours a day—it sets the tone of your day in a lot of ways.”

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

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