"A silly song. I don't have much to say. Or do I?"
Why Don't You Believe Me? Records is proud to be presenting twelve singles over twelve months by Snowy Nasdaq. Each song will only be available during the month of its release - it will be replaced by a new song every month!
Previously: 'Lopsided Smile' (July); 'Dream Pig' (June); 'Canary' (May); 'Raw' (April); 'Sisters' (March); 'Older Men' (February); 'Physical Parts' (January)
SNOWY NASDAQ, LIKE THREE BILLION OTHER PEOPLE ON THE PLANET, PLAYS GUITAR
by Simon McNamee
Snowy Nasdaq is a ‘motherfucker.’ I mean this both in the sense that he is, to quote his dad, ‘real hot shit’. I also mean this in the sense that, given his predilection for covering, during every single live performance he has ever given since his Deniliquin busking days, the Country Teasers’ standard, ‘Young Mums Up For Sex,’ he makes poor object choices in his sex life. But this irrelevant fact aside, listening Snowy Nasdaq is like having a hangover and being confronted with a computer error whilst middle-aged dads try and noodle their way through a Troggs cover in the garage. You get a bit excited about it but somehow manage to get on with whatever you’re doing.
After striking a deal with Why Don’t You Believe Me? Records (WDYBM) (<www.wdybm.com/>), each month a new track arrives on Nasdaq’s web log <http://snowynasdaq2014.blogspot.com.au>. This has been going on since January and doesn’t plan on stopping until December. If submission to arbitrarily determined calendar time is not something that is happily given into, there is always the other stuff <http://snowynasdaq.bandcamp.com>). Everyone likes free shit.
Snowy Nasdaq might be described as a purveyor of ‘indie synth-pop pub rock,’ whatever that is. He produces perfectly crafted pop songs which utilise both old-world, ‘hot shit’ guitar playing and new-world technological advances in music production he developed whilst interning with Commodore International. But don’t let this description dupe you, Nasdaq’s I.T. skills excel far beyond Ariel Pink-esque masturbatory excursions into thumb-sucking audio-phantasmagoria. It’s hard, when listening to Nasdaq’s material, not to notice his expert technē which, unfortunately, often verges into not simply providing perfectly written songs produced to the point where one needs to go dig up a garden bed and lie with your ear in the dirt to restore some natural, organic sensibility to your tympanum; there is also at times an aspiration to construct actual lyrical content. Clearly Nasdaq doesn’t know that the purpose of pop music is to attain a musical equivalent of what psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan termed ‘lalangue’. Or maybe he knows this and he kicks his donkey feet against expectation anyway. What a ‘motherfucker.’
Lyrically, Nasdaq is clearly a rampant misandrist (this is a compliment), though at times he comes close to misanthropy. (I’m thinking of everything he has ever written.) It is an ironic nihilism coupled with synth hand-clapped joys of ressentiment woven around some guitar playing and laptop programming which, as far as his Melbourne base is concerned, makes his op-shopped layabout fans rejoice. And for good reason, it is actually good, in a way that makes your eyes raise up from your superfluous blundstones and dance around a bit. But it is the effacement of ironic meaninglessness which Nasdaq achieves, perhaps against his own good sense, and which makes him stand above the dunderheads. Behind the synthetic laptop wankery, drenched in the kind of pants-moistening guitar playing reminiscent of a young Yngwie Maelstrom (I mean young as in back when he was learning to play the viola), Nasdaq has something to say. In everyday parlance, this something would probably be resemble the following: ‘You’re a dickhead.’ Not being a dickhead himself, however, in his lyrics he frequently undercuts profundity with smirking one-liners, for instance: ‘I’m obsessed with my own reflection, I prefer it to the real thing / I heard that you’re a legend but I’m more interested in the myth’ (‘Periods’). What a ‘motherfucker.’ (At least that’s what I think his castrato-like falsetto is aiming at—he refused to talk to me about his music. Also, I had the VLC player on shuffle, it might be from another artist’s song.)
Nasdaq in the flesh is not exactly what one would expect from listening to his music. Unlike the other boys from Ocean Potty, Nasdaq has a physique to rival Henry Rolling’s weird weight-lifting deformed shape and a pulsating, muscular neck, undifferentiated from his head, to match. As such, he can be quite intimidating; though after three pints of listening to him moan about how WDYBM’s Alec Marshall’s poor book-keeping is causing him to ‘lose a fortune’ in royalties, it is hard to maintain an awful deference in his presence. But no one really cares about the musician anymore, just the music, which is a fortunate turn of events for Nasdaq.
Seeing Nasdaq live is almost as good as listening to his bandcamp or soundcloud at home in the background while you do the dishes. Live, Nasdaq eschews any acknowledgement of the audience, instead opting to ignore everyone in the room entirely, facing the back of the stage whilst performing, and even occasionally miming to backing-tracks, presumably in order to transpose Brechtian alienation techniques to damp, piss-soaked pub venues. Indeed, Nasdaq frequently challenges the customary relationship between performer and audience, occasionally transgressing the liaminal space between the audience and the stage with his bodily excretions and expectorations. In fact, risk seems to be one of the primary attributes of a Snowy Nasdaq performance. He doesn’t shy away from expressing his political views (for instance, his recent ‘FREE KONY 2012’ campaign); nor does he shy away from letting the battery in his laptop die mid-song and moving on to minimalist and Spartan singer-songwriter material after enough people have left the room. (His support for Sparta in the Trojan war is always keen to talk about.) But he can afford such risks (not in a financial sense, though, I’m told). Perhaps such risks are driven by the integrity and devotion of a visionary artist; perhaps they are driven by a disdain for himself and for human beings in general. Perhaps the two are inseparable. In any case, apropos of this disdain, last time I saw Nasdaq perform, his disdain for the audience was only matched by the distain he showed to the bar staff—apparently he wasn’t happy with his free crab burger and decided the only reasonable thing to do would be to coerce one of the bartenders to eat the semi-regurgitated remains of his dinner whilst he looked wearing a child-like smile.
No matter his personal failings, Nasdaq’s music, which is like yoga for the spirit, has something to teach us. It teaches us that no matter how hard we try we always end up with producing something meaningful, whether we like it or not. This may be the wonderful, sublime failure Nasdaq offers us peasants, the failure of nihilistic aspirations, as long as we have a fast enough internet connection to stream him. For those in his home town, they might have to wait around for an always-in-the-far-off-horizon future when he releases his twelve song vinyl. Or they could send a letter to WDYBM demanding some CD-Rs.
The Shebeen (36 Manchester Lane, Melbourne) is letting Snowy Nasdaq support The Creases, along with the Ocean Party, this Saturday 28 June 2014. <https://shebeenbandroom.ticketscout.com.au/gigs/2442-the-creases>.