VOICES: On Being 'Scene' Even When You're Not a Kid Anymore

A scenester can be an emo fan, a punk, a goth, and a grownup.

To be scene, is to belong to something unique and also to fall within a particular category. Scene cred is what drives an outsider kid to seek security in subculture, yet avoid being a sheep. Scenester is fluid. Scene reality and influence only begins with music and haircuts. 

Sure, a scene kid, is a scenester; is an emo kid; is a punk; and sometimes even pretty hardcore, or straight-edge; or, only into Underoath if Aaron is on vocals; or still listens to the Used, and Bright Eyes, and Bring Me the Horizon, or whatever. These people-modifiers are technically interchangeable depending on the decade, or what each sub-socialite is wearing.

For me, scene started with the “emo years” of the early 2000s.  But I could slap the scene brand on so many other aspects of my life, even now, in my mid-twenties: Online media, weed, action sports, etc... Today's festival kids are contemporary scene kids––Warped Tour is to the emo generation what Coachella is to the Instagram set. Juggalos and Juggalettes are scenesters. Skateboarding was a scene before it became a sport fueled by energy drink brands and television advertisements. It's still its own beast, something entirely singular.  Even Janis Joplin, Jimmy Page, and Johnny Rotten were scenesters. 

And perhaps, since the music and experiences of our youth inform our taste for years to come, the reality is: Once a scenster; always a scenester.

"It's incredible how the emo bands I grew up listening to and the songs that have shaped me into who I am today have taken on such a new meaning," full-grown adult entrepreneur Babs Szabo tells The KIND. Babs has translated her scene-kid roots into an IRL career. As the co-founder of digital creative agency, Ride or Cry Co.; and Emo Nite LA, a monthly and touring emo party, Szabo works with many of the aging bands and artists that made up emo's best run in its youth. 

In a 2010 interview, Sonny Moore––who had only then recently begun performing under the Skrillex moniker––drew a link between the aggressiveness of his musical roots, which began at age 16 in the "post-hardcore movement," and the music he created as a mature adult artist. "Our high school records are the most important records of our lives," Moore tells the interviewer. 

Szabo, too, is a scenester to the core. I mean that endearingly. She continues to seek mental equilibrium through emotionally charged music. 

"I'm really thankful for emo music," says Szabo. "It has and always will guide me through whatever I'm going through in life. And the community that surrounds this scene is irreplaceable."

A Noisey piece on how mainstream emo bands such as My Chemical Romance made the discussion around mental health more accessible notes:

“The wave of 2000s emo may not have been the only group of bands to have had that effect; the same can be said of pretty much anybody who uses their art to cope and communicate their problems... People find the music that works for them and that suits their mood. It may be that My Chemical Romance and other bands of the mid-2000s just happened to be the ones who did that for a lot of young people at the time.” 

Youthful escape is found at varying beats per minute, depending on the particular times in our lives. Art often has the potential to be therapy. Scenes will exist where people come together. I'm going to be a scene kid for as long as I possibly can. And I'm totally okay with that.