Moses Sumney released his debut album ‘Aromanticism’ on the 22nd of September. So What’s Next? had the chance to talk to him about his ideas behind the record and his plea for a more tolerant view on the meaning of love in society.
What does romanticism mean to you?
Romanticism just means the presence of romance and also the presence of being in love. Being in the presence of being in love, I guess.
And aromanticism is the opposite to you
It’s the absence of romantic love, essentially.
I read the album is about the social construction of romanticism. What are the consequences of this social construction in your opinion?
A society where people who don’t fit in this social construct are left out or feel left out. They are repressed on some level if they’re not able to achieve the social ideal. In this scenario the social ideal is being able to fall in love and create a social structure for your life that fits the standard. And there is the individual, emotional fucked up-ness that comes from that as well.
“We still do not really
discuss the people who
don’t fit in this system”
Are you talking about the hetero normativity that’s all around us?
Yes, definitely, but it’s that and more than that because it extends from sexual orientation. The ideal couple is still a couple that gets married, have kids; one is the masculine, one is the feminine, you know. The idea that the family structure, a man and a woman and a kid or two still is the most prevalent in every society. I find it interesting that we still do not really discuss the people who don’t fit in this system. I’m thinking about all the people who don’t experience romantic love in general.
Is that what the album is about for you?
Yes, definitely. It’s about the disconnect between someone who doesn’t feel romantic love or doesn’t get to enjoy romantic love and the desire of other people. I think a lot of people who don’t have it still want it, because we’re socialized with the idea that the highest form of interaction with another person is being in love with them. So even when you don’t experience love you feel a sense of absence, because everyone around you is still striving towards this thing.
And then it’s probably not always clear to someone what it is he or she is looking for, because when someone finds love he or she won’t always recognize it, because it may be different from the idea of love you get when you watch a romantic comedy or listen to a romantic love song.
Exactly. It’s important to acknowledge that love exists in many forms. We just don’t have a way of talking about it that allows it to be in many forms.
Does this bother you?
Yes, it frustrates me and I wrote the album because I want to explore this perspective. I think this perspective is not as prevalent in society as it could be.
Why do you think the romantic perspective we see around us is so dominant?
Well, there are many reasons. I think it’s natural for humans to socialize with other people and to desire them. But I also think society runs on it. It’s directly tied to hierarchy and power. The capitalist society depends on the perpetuation of romanticism in order to remain economically stable. If you think about the restaurant industry or bar culture, if you think about holidays, or valentine’s day, magazines… there are so many industries that are reliant on the perpetuation of romanticism in an ideal aspirational form in order to continue running. So, I think that’s a huge part of why it’s so prevalent, even if it’s not portrayed in an honest way, I think. There is this paradigm that says that romantic love exists in this ideal form in one specific way.
Did you start with this subject in mind when you started working on the album?
When I started working on the album I knew I’d be talking about myself and my experiences, connected to something larger. I came across the word ‘aromanticism’ on the internet and it was so under-researched, so unexplored that I felt it would be good for me to write about it. I named the album Aromanticism before I wrote any of the songs and I started writing the songs with this title on my mind.
“It’s about the kind of
love portrayed as the
highest form of
When I read the lyrics of ‘Doomed’, one of the songs on the album, I was wondering what it’s about.
All the songs are about romantic love and not being able to attain it. It’s about the kind of love portrayed as the highest form of human interaction. Romantic love in literature is very often in history connected to god and godliness. It’s about the question; what if I don’t experience romantic love, does it mean I have no god or that I’m soulless, that god is not interested in me? Am I going to be turned away, because I was unable to achieve this thing in my lifetime?
Do I get it right if I think you’re not only frustrated, but also bored with this whole romantic idea?
I’m just unsatisfied with it. Let’s open up the dialog! I wish more conversations would be more radical. Bored? I don’t know, maybe more exhausted.
It’s a dominant idea, it doesn’t seem to be very tolerant to other ideas. Do you want people to become more aware of this happening by listening to your music?
I hope that people will start asking more questions, that they become more curious about the world and question the ideas they were taught about the way to couple with other people. I hope they’ll ask ‘why’. Why does it have to be this way? Do I actually believe in this, do I fit into this? I hope them to become more curious instead of just accepting what they were told.