The chicking of a hi-hat, the thumping of a bass drum, the pattering of piano eyes and dreamy, soulful harmonizations overtook KC Kings’ senses as the lyrics of Solange’s “Rise" swam through her thoughts.
The lyrics — hushed sonnets that build throughout the two-minute song — reverberate across the background instrumentals, amplifying and intensifying as the track continues to play.
The song is the lead track off of Solange’s record-breaking 2016 album “A Seat at the Table.” Its theme explores Solange’s identity and intermingles with messages of empowerment. Its contemporary R&B sound drew King, a fourth-year music media production major, in and helped foster her connection to music, which she hasn’t been able to shake.
Music does this regularly, creating connections. Sharing that connection with others makes something deeply personal and important, as music speaks for us in ways we otherwise cannot.
King's recognition of that importance was reignited in the spring of 2021 due to “A Seat at the Table.” She loved the album so much that she needed to speak to other people about it.
King initiated this dialogue by posting a Zoom link with a time to meet on her Instagram story and proposed a meeting for people to discuss what they each enjoyed about the album.
The Zoom meeting garnered the interest of only a handful of people, but she was “hooked” after the experience. Driven by the desire to continue a dialogue on music, especially with other music lovers like herself, King created the on-campus club Disc Junkies, something she has playfully coined “a book club for music.”
“Listening to new music or a new album … it’s like getting to know a new language,” King said.
Disc Junkies holds listening parties a few times each semester, meetings where students come together and all listen to the same album at once. A week after these listening parties, they host discussion meetings, open to all who are interested, not just attendees of the meeting a week prior.
This allows King's vision for the club to be enacted. King wants to not only connect people through music but also inform them about how music impacts and influences society.
“The discussions are pretty special,” King said. “One of my favorite meetings we've had was on Zoom when we were talking about ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ by Kendrick Lamar. That album has a lot of cultural significance and goes into topics of social class, race, gender and so many other things … but stuff like that is what makes the club for me.”
King grew up surrounded by music. From an early age, she took guitar and saxophone lessons, and in her senior year of high school, she began singing in her school’s choir. It was around that time that she picked up an interest in recording music, which drove her to attend Ball State to major in music production.
King has remained the president of Disc Junkies since the club’s formation and prides herself in how it has impacted people over the years.
“The way music makes me feel is something special, and I haven't felt it in any other medium,” King said. “I always make sure not to lose sight of that and, hopefully, give that feeling to other people who appreciate music with my work through this club.”
The club’s impact has been felt in fourth-year music media production major Sierra Olson, who has been alongside King since the club's creation.
Olson met King in 2020 and was on the original Zoom call. With the same desire for music conversations, King brought Olson her when forming the club. Olson now serves as the vice president and internal affairs coordinator of Disc Junkies.
“Music very much keeps me going, it very much drives my mood and helps propel me,” Olson said.
Not only does music drive her, but Olson said music can sometimes be the only thing that helps her decompress, and she often finds time at the end of each day just to spend time listening to music.
Growing up on music like “Riot!” by Paramore, she said the love she has for music never changes, which is why she cherishes the opportunity to share that love with other members of the club.
“Just being able to open up the possibilities for people, get them out of their comfort zone, but still overall in an area that’s familiar to them … it's a great experience,” Olson said.
Fourth-year music media production major Simone Robinson-Stevens also found that Disc Junkies spoke to her after coming across the club last semester.
Now serving as the outreach officer for the club, Robinson-Stevens was initially intrigued by the club’s premise, and due to a connection with King in another on-campus club.
Robinson-Stevens said she doesn’t regret the decision.
“I love music, and I love listening to different kinds [of music],” Robinson-Stevens said. “If I got any opportunity to listen to different kinds, I wouldn't initially, but now, it’s entertaining to me.”
As a music media production major alongside King, Robinson-Stevens is surrounded by music. Unlike many of her peers in the club, Robinson-Stevens primarily listens to music with the idea that while she might not be “feeling” what emotion the song is trying to convey, she could eventually.
“I find sad songs really beautiful, even if I don't feel sad,” Robinson-Stevens said. “I tend to listen to just emotionally moving music.”
Even outside of Ball State, the idea of a music book club like Disc Junkies is being noticed by other community members. Celeste Outen, owner of Locked Groove Records in The Village, said via email that she loves the premise of the club.
“The deepest bonds and connections I have formed with people have always been over the topic of music,” Outen said via email. “Individuals who expand others' taste in music are essential. Music is a universal language; it brings people together and fosters a sense of unity and shared experience.”
For Outen, her introduction to music came at a young age due to her father and grandfather’s “electric” music tastes. She described herself as a sponge in this environment, soaking up any and everything that she encountered in her music-diverse household.
She said in her experience, that exposure to different types of genres was essential for the discovery of various ideas and emotions, alongside newfound creativity.
“Listening to new and different types of music can benefit people by broadening their cultural horizons, expanding their musical tastes and fostering a greater appreciation for diversity,” Outen said via email. “Overall, exploring diverse music enhances cognitive and emotional well-being.”
King dreams that Disc Junkies can help foster an environment that allows people to better understand themselves and the world around them under the music umbrella.
By encouraging listening to new and diverse music through their listening parties, the club can help teach others to speak the universal language that is music.
“[Music] feels like home,” King said. “It’s just a language that has grown to make a lot of sense to me and is a place where I feel comfortable. That’s the word I would use to describe it … it just feels like home.”