Going From Audio to Visual

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Teresa Dale
  Staff Writer

When I hear a song that I like, I usually go and look up the artist. An artist’s music is what pulls people in, but their persona and aesthetic plays a huge role in fully submerging people into their art. There are many bands out there that make their visual aesthetic an integral part of who they are. Arguably a band’s style can be as important as their music because it adds to the experience that they create.

Every artist has some sort of look that they stick to. Whether it be grunge, rap or pop, artists tend to cater their image to what their audiences want to see. There are even some groups whose whole existence is based around a visual aesthetic.

This isn’t always a good thing though, sometimes it can be quite the opposite. We see it all the time in the mainstream music industry. Where producers capitalize on just the looks and brand of an artist, and consequently ignore the quality of the music that they are putting out. This is because they’re not just selling you their music, they want to sell you everything associated with their brand.

Boy bands and pop-divas are good examples of this. Companies play on the singer’s good looks and sex appeal to attract fans, rather than concentrating on the songs. Like with One Direction, young girls all across the country are obsessed with how “cute” each of the members is. This has led them to become a worldwide sensation, despite many people viewing their music as unoriginal.  

Then there are artists who use their visuals to aid their sound in conveying sentiment. Artists who use visuals to create experiences.

For example, The Gorillaz is a virtual band whose members are completely animated. They have such a unique visual aesthetic attached to them and it’s a huge part of their success. The band members are completely fictional and live in their own universe explored through the incredible animation in their music videos.

Unlike some artists, bands like the Gorillaz aren’t using their aesthetics and their look as a crutch that they can capitalize on, but as an aide in creating something that showcases their image and artistic values.

A lot of artists use their music videos to convey to their audiences who they are and the look that they want to be associated with. It is a place where artists can take a lot of liberties and really explore the stories that their songs are about. Some of the best music videos are the ones where artists are successfully in a position to communicate their personalities. Then there are others, that are equally great, that don’t have any sort of story at all and are just about making something interesting to look at.

A band’s aesthetic and style shouldn’t be limited to their album artwork or music videos, it should carry over to their live performances. When I love an artist for their humor or energy, I expect to see that same personality and passion in person.

To some people, the look of a group or of an individual artist isn’t important at all, but to others it is just as important as the music.  Fans are attracted to a certain style and because they identify with  a band’s music they want to identify with their style too. This can be as topical as clothing, hair, stage or it can be more about essence, attitude and antics.

If someone’s music is great, I automatically want to go look up what the artist looks like, what their personality is, and just immerse myself in their work. Their visuals play a huge role in pulling people into the world they create with their music.

No matter what genre you are into, every artist has a look. This isn’t something that can be helped, it’s just how we as humans work. Some artists choose to really develop these preexisting looks, and create an iconic version of themselves. Others develop a persona completely from scratch that is separate from themselves.

Visuals and style play such an integral part in the music industry today, which just makes the whole experience of music that much more enjoyable.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Uncategorized

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