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Outsider Artists: The Crate Episode Two

In the second episode (Listen Here) of The Crate, Kwasimodo takes the helm and leads The Crate Keeper into one of his favorite facets of the art world; Outsider Musicians. Outsider artists are defined as artists who have no formal training or do not conform to the general rules of creation of expression. What this leads to is a wholly unique take on how and why art should be made. The reasons for this lack of any formal artistic education or ignorance on the general ‘rules’ of music tend to vary across the board. Some defy these rules as a statement against the uniformity of the musical or artistic scene, others do it simply because they don’t know any better. As one would expect, the level of quality between these artists is incredibly diverse. Either way, the end result almost always guarantees something you’ve not heard anywhere else, be it good or bad.

As was previously stated, many of these ‘outsider musicians’ get their start for incredibly different reasons. The Shaggs, for example, was formed by the group’s father, who was hellbent on seeing a palm reader’s premonition come to fruition. The three band members, his tween daughters, were pulled out of school and essentially told to simply wing it, resulting in some of the worst music ever to graze radio. Others like Moondog, however, did, in fact, receive basic training at a young age. As he was blinded at the age of sixteen, he learned the principles of music in several schools for the visually impaired. After that, he would go on to teach himself to compose and write music. As you can see, two very different examples of a similar sentiment.

The reception to these outsider artists is generally negative. Most people take one listen to the oft-harsh sounds of an untrained ear and dismiss it as garbage. What people tend to miss or neglect these artists is the narrative behind the music. While it’s understandable to not want to put any music by the Shaggs on one’s iPod, the art itself can be appreciated for more than its listenability. Outsider art seems to be dying in our current time. More and more musicians are either unconfident in their abilities, instead opting to only create once they’ve received the most professional of training, or dead set on following whatever the current trend is in popular music. More than anything else, these songs by these untrained musicians have a spirit to them that can’t be matched by any industry professional. There’s something to be said about an artist who has their own unique vision and sees that vision to fruition, despite what the general consensus may be towards said vision. That steadfast, unbroken resolve is what encapsulated the spirit of outsider art. If you’re interested at all in dipping your toes into this side of music, then you may be interested in checking out the playlist.

The YouTube Playlist crafted by Kwasimodo:

The Episode:

Kwasi(modo) is the co-host of The Crate as well as assistant production manager.