The following essay is in reference to “We All Do What We Can,” the new “short story + music” track released today by E.A. Aymar and DJ Alkimist.
It’s hard to figure out exactly what, back when I was nineteen years old, intimidated me so much about going to clubs. Doubtless, some of it had to do with being in a different environment than I’d ever experienced. I’d moved to the D.C. area after years of small-town life, and places like my hometown of Sierra Vista, AZ, weren’t exactly known for their nightlife.
But my unease was stronger than just a small town kid experiencing a big city; it was an underlying tension that was brought out in the predatory nature of the people in clubs. You expect that from the men, but it was the women’s sharp eyes, how they noticed everyone in the room, which surprised me. Part of that certainly comes from danger – the danger of being a young woman in an environment filled with drunk or drugged men – and part of it likely comes from categorization, swiftly determining attraction.
When I first listened to the track that Kim (DJ Alkimist) produced that eventually became “We All Do What We Can,” it brought all of that back. The dark beat, the occasional swirls that come close to descending into confusion, the stiff drums, the muffled woman’s voice in the back; all of this reminded me of those long late nights, of being bumped in crowds of dancers, someone’s drink sloshing on your arm, waiting deep in line at a bar. Listen to the beat Kim crafted. There’s something dangerous there, something just below the surface of the earth, something inside you being called out.
For me, what emerged was Alison, the protagonist of “We All Do What We Can;” a young woman grimly pushing through the club crowd with a gun hidden behind her. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about why I write what I write – this essay is my first attempt to do so – but Alison’s blind determination for vengeance isn’t what drew me to the idea. And neither is the horrific act that led her to that vengeance.
I think its loneliness.
Alison is alone in a room full of dancing, celebrating people; violently alone. And I think maybe that’s where part of me – that old intimidation – takes hold in her. It’s what everything about a club (from the name itself) to dancing is meant to combat, but what it also, quietly, highlights: the very human struggle against isolation. Seeing people drink and dance was fun, just not really my thing. It was a lonely feeling that led to my dread back in those days, the loneliness of being in a crowd.
To a much greater and more significant extent, Alison has been forced into isolation, and succumbed to it. My discomfort as a young man is obviously nothing compared to her despair but, regardless, perhaps that’s where she came from. Our healed wounds still bleed, into our characters.