Back before the internet, finding new music was often a matter of finding new friends.
Everyone seemed to come with their own unique catalog of albums, some of those would get incorporated into my collection, some would be discarded, some put into a pile for further research and exploration. Listening to music was part leisure, part scavenger hunt. Getting ahold of something obscure, or at least obscure to your group of friends, was an indication of actual work.
You can still do this work in the internet age, but it’s slightly more superficial. Rather than digging deep into catalogs, discovering new sounds is a matter of proximity—what plays next in the YouTube queue, or is compiled by Spotify algorithms. The realm of music is still vast, but the shimmer is dimmed, the roads are all paved.
My favorite discovery of the past couple of weeks is the music app, WeFunk. The app has one button, a play button, and that’s all it needs. You open it up, hit the button and an endless stream of human-made mixes proceeds to flow from your phone and into your life. WeFunk is a weekly radio show from Montreal, put together by DJ Static and Professor Groove since 1996. Their sets range from insanely good underground hip hop to elevated funk and soul tracks. The app plays from the archives, and my favorite part of it is that you can’t control anything, it just plays. Discovery is constant, and the human touch comes through in each transition. WeFunk won’t replace your friends, but it is absolutely an upgrade from your algorithms.