Killer Cities (Discussion)


NYC is where creativity goes to thrive.

LA is where creativity goes to die.



seems to be a very general and broad statement, what from your experience leads you to believe this


just a theory in hopes of striking up a lively debate :wink:


NYC is in general a very crowded, dense urban area, but LA has a little more breathing room… imo. It’s still a densely populated city, but at least in California, its a super huge state. It takes 8+ hours from Lake Forest (where I live) to go to Sacramento, just a little more than halfway up the state. When I visited the East Coast last year, it took sometimes a mere hour just to go from state to state. Both LA and NYC are urban heat islands as well, but geographically speaking, if it’s summer in California, it’s hot. Not only super hot, but mad humid as well, and that drives people insane. But imo California is also a lot more connected with nature in general… we have a ton of national parks, lots of biome variance, etc.
I know I sort of went off tangent but I hope this anecdotal info can be put to good use.


lol thanks @Yung_Dave, i’m familiar with the geographies :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

the crux of my theory lies in the following statement: i’d be hard pressed to find an artist whose work got worse after moving to New York. however, the inverse seems to be true for Los Angeles.


ok, so going on that premise, what about the NY art ecosystem is fertile and what about LA is barren? I think theres a ton going on in LA right now because everyone left SF and Oakland, and now folks are leaving Portland for the same reasons (Rent for Studio Space). It’s also a place where there’s new money from Silicon Valley pouring into creative ventures for entertainment. From my outsider perspective, NYC seems to be a bit more old money, Wall Street / East Village / Upper West Side folks who only work through pre-established channels.

Both have their reputations…that Big Apple bootstraps romanticism, and that LA LA Land fake plastic soul suckage…so where did those come from and why do they exist, and how do they apply to what sort of creative ecosystems you perceive in the these places? I think LA is fucking cracking right now, and that NY is on a down swing.


regarding the visual art community specifically, i think we’ve pretty well debunked that particular theory by now. very few people are perpetuating that myth these days it seems and i don’t disagree with you on that. the art scene in LA is definitely popping off.

i was mostly referring to musicians…not natives, mind you. specifically successful people who move there after their career starts to take off…


any examples? for me when Claude Von Stroke and the Dirty Bird Kids left SF and went down to LA they got much worse, sure, but they also blew the fuck up and created a campout…

owner of Decibel moved from Seattle down to LA and now throws good underground shows there in a much more fun scene than Seatle…he was trying but it just wasn’t happening…

sure people move to LA and get saturated into pop styles, but they also learn how to integrate these styles and sometimes it sucks at first but after 5 years creates some real growth…


bro, where do i start? the list is practically endless. Smashing Pumpkins: amazing, then shit; Photek: shit; Machinedrum, shit…


fuckin…Kanye…need i say more lol


yeah itd be cool if you would say more, in the hopes of having a discussion


the first time i lived in LA, at the turn of the century, i’d go out and all the local bands were just like shockingly stuck in the 90s. it just felt so behind in so many ways. when i moved there again in 2012, it just felt like such a cliche that NY people were moving to LA in droves and not really doing much interesting work (in my opinion). i saw El-P and Killer Mike perform once in Portland, before they became RTJ, and the crowd went OFF. saw RTJ about a year later in LA, packed crowd, Echoplex, and people couldn’t care less. it was one of the most boring shows i’d ever been to. there just seems to be something about the place that ruins creativity. bands move to NY and start making the best records of their careers. that list is also endless. not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings, really, was just an interesting observation and wondered if there was any merit to it. i wonder if places like Berlin will hit a saturation point and start to produce less interesting talent.


Yeah so to me LA falls victim to something you see in lots of major cities and music markets: Cool Chasers. Kids who moved to the city to chase the cool, live the life, and be spectators rather than participants. In a word, this is hipsterism…cultural vampirisim, the phase of your life where you don’t have taste so you mimic what everyone else likes.

In LA specifically you get this quite often - a venue like Echoplex with an overly blog hyped act with a couple hundred kids whose Feed told them “This is Where the Cool Is!!!” But the thing about LA is that it’s fucking huuuuuuuuge and you can spend years in LA without ever finding the cool unless you actually participate in some sort of scene and FUCKING TALK TO PEOPLE. Or, in the earlier 2000s, blog and forum about it (biggups 555-5555).

Yes LA can be a punch in the gut when you’re in the wrong crowd, but thats whats so cool about LA. You can leave Echoplex and head down to the Shrine, Henry Fonda, W. Hollywood, Downtown, hell Santa Monica or the South Bay if you want to trek and find something else.

Portland has been like this too in recent years, lots of kids from the midwest where LA was too big and Oakland/SF too pricey or edgy for them so they Goldilocks’d it to PDX…juuuuust right, a comfortable Cool to chase…I’ve had shit nights and great nights, but have run into lots of crowds that dont dance and snap photos way too fucking much. Portland has an amazing musical scene too, but you gotta dig because folks and sick and tired of people coming to hype it without doing anything to help it.

NY challenges musicians. In LA they can hide. But if they don’t they can thrive. What’s your experience of NY been like?


Entire post is on point, but the first paragraph is very, very spot on. Not to mention California is basically gentrification central lol.

However, off the top of my head, there’s one group of musicians who went from lowkey to popular all around social media and also amazing in quality after moving to LA, Brockhampton. They started from San Marcos, Texas (basically the middle of nowhere) before moving to LA in 2016 where they produced and recorded the Saturation trilogy.


yeah and their music got way fucking better because they had a great place with access to studios, equipment, other rappers and a critical audience / community!

These aren’t Killer Cities, they just weed the pros from the fakes.


so @criminiminal why does creativity thrive in NY and die in LA


i think there are some interesting forces at work in “destination” cities, which can either harm or improve an artist’s creative life. i also think there are some interesting forces at work in mundane cities which people often overlook. i think it’s capable for a scene to crop up just about anywhere these days and sometimes i wonder if the most creative work often comes from people who work in relative isolation. i often think of people like Bob Pollard from Guided by Voices or Erykah Badu or Prince or Wayne Coyne who, at some point in their burgeoning careers, made a decision to stay in their hometowns, and said, “fuck you, i don’t care if the scene is better in Chicago or that it’s ‘so nice’ in LA, i’m gonna stay in Dayton (or Dallas or Minneapolis or Oklahoma City or wherever) and not chase cool. and maybe they had ups and downs and made shit records occasionally but their work didn’t suffer on their overall trendline graph and they continued on their idiosyncratic paths. and then i think of people like Glenn Danzig who was so enamored of weird bygone Hollywood he actually moved there and now people make memes of him buying cat food at Rock n’ Roll Ralph’s. i think there’s something inherently motivating about hardship and when people replace actual hardship with nice weather they lose an essential part of what it means to create meaningful art. i think you summed this up very precisely when you said NY challenges people. absolutely one of the most challenging places on earth probably. there’s nothing easy about it. and that’s fascinating to me. i’m not saying it’s not possible to make incredible, career defining records in LA. Beastie Boys did it (thrice, actually), Dilla did it. i’m just saying that, on the whole, it’s a curious phenomenon i found somewhat compelling.