There's something about music that can turn people into crazed evangelists: I know I spend more time arguing about records than, say, religion or politics. Those heated dialogues are exactly what inspired Brady Cranfield—a Vancouver, BC-based artist—to begin organizing the Music Appreciation Society. In this ongoing event, a panel of artists shares and discusses music they love with the audience. It's a simple premise, but, as Cranfield explains, "It's amazing to me how easily people become deeply engaged when talking about music."
Over email, Cranfield told me more about Sunday's Society, which will include panelists Gus Van Sant, Matt McCormick, Vanessa Renwick, Jennifer Gately, Kathy Slade, and Marc Joseph.
MERCURY: How did the idea for the project come about?
In the summer of 2004, I was asked by the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver to devise an event that would help expand their audience—a kind of community outreach. It ended up as a one-night panel presentation, one song per panelist, with a question-and-answer period. Conversation and opinion—for both good and bad—seem to flow freer and deeper with music than with art, especially contemporary art, which for many can be intimidating and inhibiting.
Will you be presenting a piece of music?
No. My job is to initiate, welcome, and facilitate. But I think music is very good right now generally, so there's a lot of stuff to choose from—maybe even too much! It is still hard to make a choice.
What is the value of talking about music?
Talking about music is never just talking about music. It typically includes many extra and non-musical issues, concerns, and connections. More prosaically, I find other people's musical tastes very interesting. I love to look through people's collections. It's even better if other people show you their music: What begins as a kind of cataloguing usually becomes enriched with anecdotes and embellishments, not only about specific musicians, recordings, or whatever, but also more personal, self-reflexive stuff—and, again, social, political, and economic stuff, as well. Music in this sense is both an opening and a horizon.