Finding meaning in a song can require many listens. “Self-Unemployed” by Montreal’s Luyas, is not one of those songs, not for me at least. I’ve been relatively “self-unemployed” for about a year and a half. While I was a student that didn’t seem so bad, but it is a vortex of demoralization once you can no longer claim studenthood, especially “when you don’t make money.”
That being said, as a musician, being self-unemployed is the goal. To be free of the normal day-to-day slog that so many people find to be an unfulfilling burden. It’s a nice dream and if you got the appetite (or a lack of literal appetite) maybe being a musician is right for you. The reality of being a musician, however, is that it’s damn hard to pursue your art and have nothing else propping you up. Even if things start rolling for a while, it’s pretty easy for the wheels to fall off the beautiful, flawed and fragile thing you and your friends have created.
It’s about balance, I suppose, and being able to laugh at the absurdity of modern life, especially modern artistic life. Hell, even people who don’t like what they are doing are being forced out of jobs or are unable to find work. “Self-Unemployed” balances the light and the dark side of being in a band perfectly, meaning it’s about 90% dark and 10% percent light. The swirling, ominous and intoxicating music is the constant uncertainty, and the lyrics are just tongue-in-cheek enough to bring the song above despair up to at most a nervous giggle. As a whole, though, as art occasionally does, “Self-Unemployed” defines modern, connected life for a generation hoping for some salvation from the challenges that lie ahead and just a bit of cash.
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