Musician Gabriel Kahane Quit The Internet, And Rediscovered Friendship

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For many people (meaning: everyone), the thought of ditching their cell phone and going off the internet for a year would be inconceivable. Like some young adults I know with the last name Horn, just 30 minutes offline can be nerve-wracking.

In response to this incessant online connection, the musician Gabriel Kahane walked away from the virtual world for 12 months: no email, no texts, no social networks, no doom scrolls.

He hasn’t used a cell phone in over three years and counting. And what Kahane discovered during this electronic sequestration produced a lesson – and an album – that we should all consider.

Kahane’s new record is called beautiful bird. It follows a previous album inspired by another kind of odyssey. Rather than simmer the 2016 presidential election, Kahane left home, boarded a train, and visited more than 30 states. His conversations with fellow Amtrak passengers gave 2018 Book of Travelers.

Kahane, who plays Thursday night at Gold-Diggers in Los Angelessaid Book of Travelers inspired beautiful bird.

“I was somewhere in the middle of the country in 2016, on one of these trains, and after having all these amazing conversations with other travelers, I thought to myself, ‘I really should take more time on the internet. ‘,” Kahane told me this week.

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“Even though it’s a kind of characteristic feeling that we have more in common than us that divides us – and there are these forces in the world that try to make us despise each other – I think that It’s not so much that we’re more polarized or that people have become more extreme, but simply that social media has the loudest voices.

Much like his train journey, Kahane’s online embargo was about connecting — and reconnecting — with people. Kahane thinks the internet, especially social media, makes it harder for us to love one another, which makes it harder to form personal connections and coalitions to bring about change.

Here is a snippet of the title track from the album

Guess that’s why I walked away
For a year without scrolling
A drop of shiny hearts picc line
Righteousness and caddies
Like it could ever make us whole
And when my friends call me and tell me
It’s worse than before, friendly fire
And eager for more
I do not know what to say.

Kahane said being disconnected from the internet during the pandemic has caused him to reconsider personal relationships and their importance to artists.

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“What keeps me going? Because writing music is really lonely, it’s often not that much fun. You’re sitting around draft after draft after draft trying to get the right song. And yet, there’s something that keeps us doing it,” Kahane said.

“Part of it is the restraint, the makeup, whatever. But I’ve started to realize that at least for me, it’s all about these kind of intimate interactions that are really, really nurturing,” he said. -he declares. “It can be a conversation at a merchandise table after a show with someone, or it can be a letter from a fan.”

Kahane is not inclined to explain his words; listeners can read whatever they want into his words.

Every time someone with 1 million followers on Instagram or Twitter posts something, they implicate all of those people in Mark Zuckerberg’s Wealth Project and the algorithms that divide us.

—Gabriel Kahane

But in several songs, it feels like Kahane is both celebrating and lamenting the concept of alliances — people not sharing Instagram posts about climate change, for example, but taking personal action to make things happen. .

The first song on the album, in fact, is called “We Are the Saints”:

I keep dreaming that I’m climbing a dusty road
On top of a cold, clear mountain,
Guided by a voice on the radio, he said,
Your feet are the future, so keep walking

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Ironically, Kahane’s lack of internet has made it difficult to get social media interest in her new album. But that kind of misses what Kahane is saying.

“It’s really about hitting on people who have bigger platforms than me to encourage them to be more intentional about how they use those platforms,” ​​Kahane said.

“Because every time someone with a million followers on Instagram or Twitter posts something, they implicate all of those people in Mark Zuckerberg’s Wealth Project and the algorithms that divide us,” he said. declared.

I recently took my son to a John Mulaney comedy concert. You couldn’t bring your phone. So before Mulaney went on, people weren’t ignoring the person right next to them and staring at a screen. In fact, they were talking to each other.

“Nothing in our society has been as transformative as the telephone itself,” Kahane said. “It’s not the particular software, it’s not the particular platform. The things that attract us will change and keep changing, but that’s what will really set the tone for our relationships with each other.

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