• Camie Dudziak

Why I Love Music

At the end of the day, you’re never completely your own person. Maybe that’s a bad way to start this, maybe I need to learn to be independent. But, in actuality, my independence comes from those in my life that have provided me with the experiences to be on my own.

Back to my main point. You’re never completely your own person. You’re a compilation of the stories of those surrounding you. The intertwining of stories ultimately makes a whole person.

I have a lot of stories, in a whole array of genres. One day I’ll try to tell all of them. The good, the bad, the scary, the heartbreaking, the love. Well, love is a story I’m telling today.

This love is specific. Even within each of these stories, there are a lot of different kinds of love. But the one true love I want to talk about is music. And, in the simplest way I can think of, I can owe my love of music to four different stories.

Picture this. Thirteen years old. 90lbs, maybe. Little blonde girl with big brown eyes and no idea what life had in store. Other than anxiety attacks and depression and a whole lot of other middle-school the-world-is-ending issues (way more stories than I can fit here). In the basement of a terrible, horrible school, one of my best friends pulled me aside and said, “Camie, I think you’ll like this.” And all of a sudden, I was learning everything about a Canadian rock band known as Marianas Trench. My first favorite band. They ended up being a lot of firsts for me, too (let’s keep it PG…). They were my first concert, and my first tattoo as well.

This is where our stories intertwine. When they went on their U.S. tour, I was there, a wide-eyed thirteen-year-old, at the barrier of House of Blues Chicago after my first VIP experience. It was then that I fell in love with live music. Just short of 100 concerts now, I owe this love to June 22nd, 2013. I have traveled the world, all to see shows. Without that first Marianas Trench concert, I never would have found out that I love experiencing music in the moment. It might have taken me a few years to really, completely understand that I was meant to work in live music, but without that first experience, I never would have found out. Years later, and I still feel that butterfly-tingling feeling when a band walks on stage that I did, age thirteen, squashed at the barrier and screaming lyrics that meant the world to me then, and mean even more to me now.

My second love is another band, All Time Low. This one is special to me, as I’ve seen them more than any other band. As I’m writing this, I’m preparing to go see them for the 10th time, with plans to make it to my 12th later this summer. I flew to London to see them, skipped a day of my college orientation in Boston to go to a signing. Soon, I’ll have seen them in Chicago, California, Milwaukee, and Indiana, on top of London and Boston. I could say a lot about my love for them, but the one part I want to talk about right now is how they made me realize that traveling for music is absolutely incredible. Then, I realized, “hey! That’s what touring is!” Somewhere down the line I decided that my traveling to see this one, silly band would become traveling WITH them, working for them all over the world. I realize that’s a long shot, but we all need to have goals. Until then, I’ll be so, incredibly happy sleeping in a van, waking up in a new city every day, working for someone whose music I really, really believe in.

This next story is going to be really, really hard to write about for a lot of reasons. And it took me a really, really long time to come to peace with the fact that this person did shape me into who I am today. For months, I tried to pretend like all I felt was anger, and hatred. I tried to erase the past. But, when I came to terms with the influence it had over me, I opened myself up to music more than I ever have in the past. This story and the next story are connected in more ways than one, but I’ll get to that later (and in other stories… like I said, more ways than one. Not everything is about music). I’m not going to name this person, though if you know me, you’ll know exactly who I’m talking about.

I adored this musician with every single piece of me, since I was fourteen. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have found a majority of the bands I listen to now. But, on top of that, this person opened me up to the background of the music industry. I started seeing the logistics, the rough drafts of songs, the stress the artist feels, and the genuine love they can feel for the people supporting them. I was able to call this person a close friend. He watched me grow up, meeting me my freshman year of high school, and everything ending a month after my graduation. When both my parents were diagnosed with cancer, this person was my rock.

Not only him, but his family as well. And that is something I will be eternally grateful for.

Scene: 2016. it’s 3am. I made a sad tweet (wow, nothing’s changed). I get a message from this boy, who had his own concert in 15 hours. It was him refusing to go to sleep until I called him, so he could hear my voice and know I was okay. I talked to him for hours. He told me about his nerves over that hometown show, he sent me the new song he was going to play so that at least one person in the crowd would know the words, and we made promises that I will never forget, not even until this day. End scene.

What does this have to do for my love of music? I became friends with this person through being a fan, through supporting his music, and through seeing him in the crowd at countless shows. He didn’t need to know my name. He didn’t need to care about me. But he did. And it spread to his family as well.

If you know who I’m talking about, I want you to know that I am still angry, and I haven’t forgiven anything. I don’t forgive my experiences, and I don’t forgive the experiences of others. But, that anger made me lose my trust in music. If you’ve never felt that, you’re lucky. I lost my constant. I couldn’t listen to any music for a long time because I couldn’t get behind an industry full of those kinds of people. I made sure my college major didn’t reflect music in any way, and I made the decision that I would never work in this industry.

The next story is what changed my mind, but I’m not there yet. This person was a huge part of my life, and he is a huge part of who I am. When it comes to music, he made me fall in love with the logistics, but also the relationship. The relationship between the artist and the crowd, the artist and the fans, and the artist and the music. That’s what I wanted to be a part of. The relationships. The connections. The knowledge that I’m not the only one who feels this love for music.

One last thing about him – tell the people you love that you love them, while you have the chance. I still have a lot of trouble with this. But something that haunts me every single day is that I’ll never be able to thank him. So, while you have the power to do so, thank those who have made you better. Thank those for what they have done for you, and thank them for existing.

That leads me into my final story. This is about an album. Weird, huh? How an album can change everything?

In the fall of 2017, I was avoiding new music. I didn’t want to be involved in the industry and I was avoiding anything that would lead me to break down (which did happen, eventually, way later than it should have). I was lost.

And then I got a DM about an album that I had been subconsciously avoiding. If I remember correctly, the message said “can’t wait for you to hear it!” and I just thought, oh fuck, I really need to listen to it now.

And thank God I did. I can’t tell you why, but for some reason while listening to 94.3 The Reel, I realized that I needed to write a review, I needed to create Concerts With Camie, and I needed to get my shit together and that working in music is the only thing that’s ever going to make sense for me. I needed to tour. I needed to work. I needed to get back into that industry that had killed me only a few months before.

I’ve always been punk, through and through. Leather jackets and tattoos and metal shows and mosh pits and Warped Tour. Not that I’m a punk person. I’m terrified of butterflies and I cry when other people cry. But pop-punk music has always just been my Brand. So listening to Kid Quill’s 94.3 The Reel and absolutely loving it came as a shock to me and to everyone else.

I want to make one thing very clear – I fell in love with the album way before I had any kind of personal bias toward the artist. This isn’t petty, this isn’t sarcasm, this isn’t me trying to make myself feel better or seem better. It is a great album that happens to have been written by a really great, sometimes really frustrating, artist.

There isn’t a single song off that album that I don’t know at least most of the words to. Back in September I actually considered getting some of the lyrics tattooed, and sometimes I still wish I had, but it would just be Really Weird to do that now. But that album got me out of one of the worst times of my life. Remember that faith I had lost in music? It was back. And it came back in the form of a career.

I became really sick after a while. I still am. But on my worst days, that album makes me smile, and for a moment I feel better. I’m no longer a walking symptom. It’s got a special place in my heart. It always holds me down.

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to thank Kid Quill, Mitch, for that. It doesn’t make sense to me, really, and trying to explain it in words to him will make me sound 127x crazier than he already thinks I am. Out of all the musicians I’ve talked about in this, Mitch is the only one I could think might actually read this. Probably not. But maybe that 1% chance that he will, will make a difference.

I said to thank those while you had the chance. I missed my chance with a lot of people, and I’m not going to do it again. Marianas Trench, thank you for starting all of this. All Time Low, thank you for making me fall in love with being on the road. Thank you to that boy, who might’ve put me through absolute hell, but God, do I owe him the world. And, finally, to Kid Quill, to Mitch, to 94.3 The Reel: thank you for giving me something bigger than you even know. When I said I wanted to work for musicians whose music I truly believed in, I was talking about you. I was talking about 94.3 The Reel. I don’t know if you’ll ever believe me, but aside from All Time Low, you’re the one person I want to tour with the most, because I believe in your music the most. Thank you for writing an album that got me out of my own way.

My life has always been a compilation of so many different, crazy stories that are just so messy you couldn’t even write a book about it. Nothing ever makes sense. Nothing ever fits right and trust me, nothing is ever easy. But I’ve finally found something that works for me, that makes sense, and that I can say I truly love. As one of my favorite people sang, “the hardest part about writing your story is knowing that you’re worth the ink.” I can’t wait to do this for the rest of my life. I can’t wait to use the ink.

Thank you.


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