October 3, 2009

What is it about NYC?

The closest I've ever been to New York City is the Syracuse Hancock Airport. So you have to forgive me for wondering why so many artists feel the necessity to uproot from the towns they call home to move to New York City.

I understand that New York City is a massive cultural hub not just for the United States but for much of the world. Artists move to New York City or one of it's many boroughs in attempt to "make it" in their respective medium. America is a nation of immigrants and so much of our history is based upon migration from one direction (usually the East) to another (the West), acting as a type of pressure release valve that prevented so much unrest in the old world from occurring here. With no more West to win, major migration has been to major urban centers like New York City.

Look at a band like Grizzly Bear. At least half the dudes in that band are from the West Coast. But they find themselves in NYC. Former Record Machine artist, Cheyenne, relocated to New York City from Norman, Oklahoma.

The question that's always been paramount in my mind is whether or not some people can create art in a vacuum, or, outside of the influence of other artists, or if their own vision is intrinsically tied to being around other people who light a flame inside of you. Some bands are forever associated with their community, like Oklahoma City's Flaming Lips. Wayne Coyne still lives in the same neighborhood he grew up in. The Replacements are as synonymous with Minneapolis as Husker Du and Prince are. Hell, St. Louis has Nelly trolling around the suburban Lake St. Louis community.

So does moving to "the Big City" make it that much easier for musicians to craft their art or is it some kind of artistic diaspora in some vain, fleeting attempt to "make it"?