Lauren's Listening Club brings people together via musical enthusiasm
Whenever asked what her first-ever concert was, Saginaw senior Lauren Nowosatka must make an immediate decision: does she tell people about the time she saw Justin Bieber in 2012 or when she saw Hozier in Royal Oak and crowned herself an indie rock disciple?
For Nowosatka, listening to music is an activity as essential as drinking water. She said it was the potion that took her from being a quiet freshman scribbling down math equations in Larzelere Hall to the punk feminist in a tie dye bucket hat literally "dancing herself clean" to LCD Soundsystem.
Music is like the sun and listening is the act of photosynthesis required for blossoming, she said. Nowosatka's weekly newsletter, "Lauren's Listening Club" captures the growth she experiences every seven days.
"For all of the newcomers, welcome to the hottest, most exclusive club on campus, 'Lauren's Listening Club,'" Nowosatka said in the introduction of an April newsletter, "Below is a playlist of my current favorite songs (and) artists that I can assure you are worth listening to."
Each Wednesday since April 2019, Nowosatka submits an email with ten songs, a small explanation for why she selected them and a link to the Spotify playlist she designed for the week.
She said she is always looking for songs with lines "that will make my eyes jump out of my head."
The lists can feature the indie rock charm of Vampire Weekend, Future Islands' "Beach Foam" that made her want to "run along the coast and roll around in the sand" and The Unicorns' "I Was Born (A Unicorn)," which reminded her of sipping Electric Unicorn beer in British Columbia.
The idea for crafting her own newsletter was initiated while singing along to experimental and art rock group, the Velvet Underground in the Mathematics Assistance Center.
"My friend was in the same math class as me, so we were working on our homework together when suddenly she looks up and asks, 'oh my gosh, that's that song by King Princess, right?'" she said, explaining her only response to such a comparison was "oh no, you know better."
While her friend said she meant no disrespect, she did request Nowosatka to provide her a list of songs on a weekly to monthly basis to expand musical horizons.
Eventually, what started as a playlist being delivered to the occasional friend via Spotify links, transformed into a duty to her following of nearly 50 students. Those interested in reading Nowosatka's newsletter can read it on Her Campus or can have it emailed by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
"It's really cool to create this collective of so many different people that aren't necessarily all connected on campus in any way, but by just sharing and listening together they're participating in this bonding experience," she said. "I'm excited to talk about it in ten years, remembering when I did that weird thing in college that had me sending music to all of my friends."
Although her newsletter is only seven months old, she said her love for Spotify does a triumphant job at combatting the laws of space and time.
"Spotify tucks you into bed at night and gives you a goodnight kiss," she said. "I will love Spotify till the day I die."
Nowosatka's playlist collection includes: "bathtub party," a list of songs to jam to while taking a bubble bath; "breakfast is the most important meal of the day," a group of breakfast-themed jams; "play this at my funeral," a series of songs she wants played on loop throughout the entirety of her funeral and "integration station," her designated math playlist full of songs strictly about math.
During summer 2018, she said she experienced overwhelming fatigue because she was completing a year-devoted playlist with 365 songs for each day.
"I supposed I was on that path (toward fatigue) this weekend. I was trying to listen to my entire vinyl discography, which is 77 records large," she said. "I thought I could get it done all in Labor Day weekend and I didn't even make it halfway through. That more so almost turned into a chore. I'd have to be like, 'sorry, I can't leave, I got to listen to these vinyls.'"
She said music is able to connect even the most non-connectable. She said it promotes vulnerability, courage and an insatiable appetite to be exposed to different noises.
"In my day-to-day life, music is literally one of the reasons I get out of bed in the morning. (I) wake up wanting to hear something and it gets my day rolling. It makes me feel so good and there's so many different ways it can (capture) such a specific feeling and raise the volume on it, whether it's good or bad or everything in between," she said.
Before opening up her newsletters with a journal-like introduction, highlighting the major successes and inspirations of the week, she said she was terrified of sounding lame.
"The songs (I choose) don't have to be new. Most of them are just new to me or make me go, 'oh my god, I love this song so much. I can't stop listening to it and everybody has to know it if they don't already,'" she said. "People will always reply back thanking me for putting their favorite song on the list or introducing them to something they never head before that is able to really resonate with them right now. Without actually having a conversation, we're united by these feelings."