We’re not so different, you and I. We’re both staying indoors; we’re both missing our friends and family; and we’re both likely melting our brains through excess screen time, plowing the endless fields of new digital content and revisiting old favorites. In the old world (the “before time”?), I’d consider myself to be a bit of a hermit. Hitting the town with friends often came in at a close second to staying at home, pants-less and comfortable. The ease of connecting through text or social media leaves little need to pick up the phone and call folks directly to check in. In isolation, a voice-to-voice phone call reclaims its status as a necessary utility, rather than playing the role of a 20th century pastime. What starts with an easy “Hey! How’s it going?” quickly twists and turns into an in-depth conversation between friends or family – there’s a real beauty to it that can’t be replicated through a thumb-typed back-and-forth.
Perhaps the most overlooked function of our phones is the voicemail. There’s an inherent truthfulness and vulnerability to expecting an answer on the other end of the line, being confronted by a message prompt, then quickly transitioning your mindset from a dialogue to a monologue. Whether concise or meandering, the voicemail is a pure snapshot of character in a fleeting moment. It’s the raw, Vivian Maier-esque portrait of communication methods.
Take these wandering thoughts, wrangle them together through a lengthy brainstorm in the shower, and you have the basic foundation of John Moses’ Message Machine: an effort to develop genuine connections through trusted music recommendations, all compiled within my voicemail inbox. Every new episode begins with a creative brief, which is proposed to a hand-selected cast of commentators. Each guest is then invited to share one song that fits within the confines of that show’s theme. The end result is endearing, informative, and an apt vehicle for focused listening to music both familiar and obscure. At least, that’s the goal.
The theme of the premiere episode is music from Film and TV, a fitting topic as our binging habits are currently shooting through the roof. Matching music to picture so often creates a wonderful synergy and recontextualization for both mediums, a concept which is expounded upon through each guest’s unique perspective.
At the end of the day, this initial concept was motivated by the fact that my wife and I are, frankly, very bored. Quarantine-induced downtime has allowed us to pour our energy into creating this warm, strange, asynchronous get-together with our guests, a tradition we’d like to continue long after our return to normalcy. In the spirit of cinematic voyeurism, I hope you derive as much pleasure from tapping my phone line as I get from assembling the show.