Really smart scientists have proven that our taste in music mostly comes from our memories. Daniel J. Levitin says in his book This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession that we lump things into categories (or genres) to help distinguish what something sounds like. We also have a distinct ability to pull together the melody of a song from our past, regardless if it's in the right key. All these memories help determine what we grow to like over time.
So when artists create, they're actually grasping at the sounds of their pasts. Eric Earley — the frontman for Portland, Oregon's Blitzen Trapper — probably doesn't think about how or why his brain's synapses react to certain sounds. But one listen to his band's music, and it's obvious that years of musical influences drive his songs.
Bob Dylan, John Denver, and Creedence Clearwater Revival are some of Earley's childhood favorites. He didn't have many records growing up, so instead of huddling around a record player, he spent a lot of time playing music with his dad, learning to play the banjo when he was six.
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