Most of my important relationships in life have been formed around music. Music often defines the way I perceive a person, how I connect with them, how I remember them.
When I think of my late mother, my thoughts are flooded with memories of the concerts she took me to as a kid. We saw Chuck Berry performing at Deer Creek and we watched legendary Indianapolis vocal group The Ink Spots play the Union Station food court. And perhaps most memorably we attended the Farm Aid concert at the Hoosier Dome where I witnessed an array of incredible artists like Bill Monroe, Elton John, Lou Reed and Guns N' Roses.
The most prized objects I've retained among my mother's possessions are her records. Her collection was packed with fantastic mid '60s titles, like Thelonius Monk's-Misterioso, Dylan's Blonde on Blonde, plus classic bossa nova, blues and soul. I'm certain I acquired the foundation of my musical taste from her.
Nearly all my memories of my younger sister, who passed away several years ago, center around our shared love of music. From Native Tongues hip-hop to Jamaican dancehall, my sister educated me on a variety of genres that would form the foundation of my sensibilities as a DJ.
I followed my sister through all her rapidly changing musical interests. During her Riot Grrrl phase, we attended shows by Bikini Kill and Huggy Bear at the (now defunct) Sitcom, an all-ages punk venue at 46th and College. In her Neo-Soul period we watched Erykah Badu at the Vogue, and Cody ChesnuTT at the Patio. And it was during my sister's Britpop stage that I had my first taste of music journalism when I tagged along with her and a friend as they interviewed Oasis in the lobby of the Omni Hotel for their DIY music fanzine.
And music will also define my memories of my good friend Manny. Last week, I heard the shocking news that Manny had died at the age of 35.
I seldom speak of my personal life in this column, and I debated whether or not I wanted to mention his passing here. But Manny's life had such a significant impact on my work I realized I would be remiss not to mention him.
Manny was a photographer, and I used his images more than once for my stories in this space. But his influence on my work goes much deeper than that. Manny was one of the first people in Indianapolis to support my endeavors as a DJ. In fact that's how I got to know him, Manny was a regular at my early gigs.
I always looked forward to talking music with Manny. I respected his opinion, and his support for my work gave me some much needed self-confidence during the initial stages of my artistic development.
I shared many great moments with Manny, but I think the memories that will stand out most are the shows we covered together. Manny was a huge hip-hop fan and I rarely attended a major hip-hop concert in Indy where he wasn't present. The final show we covered together was Chance the Rapper with DJ Rashad at Old National Centre. Our last interaction was in April when Manny wrote to notify me that Rashad had died. It's terribly strange and sad to think that both these young, talented and kind souls disappeared so abruptly.
While I certainly miss the friends and family I've lost in this world, I take solace in the fact that I can see their influence every day in my work. For me, they all continue to live on in the music I listen to, play and write about.
Each edition of A Cultural Manifesto features a mix from Kyle Long, spotlighting new music from around the globe.
Caribou - Can't Do Without You
Fatima - La Neta
Todd Terje - Leisure Suit Preben
Babel Mètis - Odesy
Taylor McFerrin - The Antidote (feat. Nai Palm)
Mo Kolours - Brixton House/Little Brown Dog/Curly Girly
Prince Koloni - Luku A Meisje (Uproot Andy & Geko Jones Remix)
Ninos Du Brasil - Essenghelo Tropical
Sunlightsquare - Ochosi
Sonzeira - Sambãio
tUnE-yArDs - Left Behind
Seun Kuti - IMF
Quantic - La Plata (feat. Nidia Gongora)