creation, life

Real Delusions

__queen_paranoia__

I suffer from paranoia. For years i had delusions. I literally made shit up and believed it all. From not trusting people, or feeling hard done by, to image warping and not knowing how i look, dysmorphophobia, and negative obsessions with social situations that make no sense to anyone i share them with. I am a mentalist.

“The human brain is a complex organ with the wonderful power of enabling man to find reasons for continuing to believe whatever it is that he wants to believe.” 
― Voltaire

Have you ever been to a  life drawing class? I went recently for the first time.. The model was a large flumpy naked lady with a bushy beaver stood in a macho body builders pose. Sitting at the back i was amazed as all the other students sketched her form within a few seconds. I tried and just couldn’t get it. Lines were darting and overlapping in ever messier frantic scribbles all over the page as i searched frantically for the definition of my subject. I missed her next pose as i tried to fix this hideous drawing!

For her third pose she lay on her side propped up on an elbow, her big veiny tits lay in front of her on the floor and her afro-muff reached out at us. A relaxed almost cocky look snarled across on her saggy face that hung over her clenched fist. I again had an epileptic fit with my pencil and drew a huge never ending scribble, a 2 year old may have done better. Shit, i thought as the pencil tore a hole through to the next page. All the artists were drawing amazing versions of her… all shaded and perfect proportions. Mine looked like my nephew had just sunk a crate of red bull and attacked the page. The teacher walked over and took a peek, i was sweating in embarrassment and frustration.

She told me to hold up my pencil and measure the girl.  I then realised my rectangle was too wide, so i rubbed out one edge and made her thinner. And again. And again. And thinner. And thinner. Holy Shit… I had drawn her about three times wider than she really was. i hoped the model would never see my satanic splurge as i feared she may cry and never pose again!

I realised i was drawing how my conditioned mind was seeing her. Not that i got anything against fat people, as i have been a porker myself a few times throughout the years! But i wasn’t looking at what was in front of me, i was just drawing my preconceived idea of how i thought a large lady would look and this idea was getting in the way of reality.

“Sight obscures. Noise deafens. Desire messes with your heart. The world messes with your mind. A Master watches the world but keeps focused on what’s real.” -Lao Tzu

While on holiday a few months later i was given a book called Drawing With The Right Side of The Brain. The main point of the book was about smashing preconceived ideas of how we think things look. Removing delusions and learning how to see. For real. One exercise entailed copying a picture from the book turned upside down. As i turned around my finished drawing i was amazed at how good it was. How could this be? It looked as if i had advanced forward a few years in the space of 5 minutes!!!!

Well, it’s because as the subject was upside down i didn’t recognise it quite so easily – i was copying random lines. The filter between reality and and my brain was shattered, as instead of drawing a nose, or eye, or mouth i was now just copying lines that went in certain directions and therefore not imposing any of my assumptions of how it should look upon it.

This amazed me. Trying to draw people for years and never being able to capture the essence of them, i suddenly realised, trying is WRONG! The essence will come by itself if you can get the form right, and the form comes from seeing things as they ARE not as we THINK they are! We need to forget how we THINK a nose should look and just draw the lines angles and shadows that are in front of us. Switch off the thinking brain – just look.  This can be done by tricking the brain by hanging upside down (might be awkward to draw with all the blood running to your head – unless you hang your model upside down) or  by just drawing the negative space instead of concentrating on our subject so intensely. Or just learning to zone in on the parts you are drawing and training to switch off the filter. Anything that enables us to forget what we are drawing!!!!!! How strange !

So can i use these drawing techniques to smash all the other shit i have made-up in my life? In 2003 i woke up from an operation and did not recognise myself. A NHS jaw op, which changed the shape of my face. It fucked my brain in.  I’ll write about this in more detail another time.. but i have such a warped sense of self you would not begin to believe it. I look in the mirror and am always shocked when i see a person who i don’t know – even to this day, i don’t know me.  In learning how to see what really is, can i smash my body dysmorphic type obsessions and delusions?  Time to remove the filter and look at what actually is and forget all my negative ideas and delusions i have built up.

But, can these delusions have a place in art?

All my music is mixed wrong. i am not measuring the relationship of various sounds to each other in the music i listen to. When i create i am ending up with a completely weird  and  warped version of music – a representation of how i hear the music i love, not how it actually sounds. The results are sometimes terrible, and sometimes a amazing…. often technically wrong, but i don’t want to sound exactly like the music i that inspires me!! – I want to sound like me… like my representation of everything i experience. Not like the other 9million bedroom producers in my street. My music is completely inaccurate, as is my view of reality….like the drawing of the 5 foot wide crazy frantic lady with holes in….. It’s deluded, warped, wrong and fucked up… and therefore completely unique! It’s my expression of how i see this world.

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“No man is happy without a delusion of some kind. Delusions are as necessary to our happiness as realities.”
― C.N. Bovee

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life

Thinking is bad for you

thinkingmonkey

YOU choose what you think about. Although thoughts can drift, you have the power to decide what stays in your head.

Each thought is a thing. An actual thing with an actual effect. This means whatever you are thinking now is having an impact on you or your environment right now. So yes in theory THINKING IS BAD FOR YOU. This is because we tend to drift and give up control and let the bad thoughts creep in and set up home. We don’t kick them out and they run havoc in us causing us all sorts of problems in our realities.

Thoughts about the past or future are damaging. Real or imagined they tend to have a negative impact on us if we dwell there. We react as if the imagined scenarios are real and usually end up feeling pretty shit. Does this mean we need to forget goals? Worries? Dreams? Memories?   ……….to an extent YES…We need to forget them, unless they have a real use for us in this moment.

When we are fully in the present we automatically switch off this bad thinking and our feelings are no longer sabotaged. Only having thoughts that are specifically about the exact situation we are currently in is a way of switching off the WHAT IF brain guff. A state of bliss is achieved by focusing on what is in front of you using all of your senses. It switches off the hypothetical brain and therefore we can forget about what may have been or may become and just enjoy what is.

Being able to time travel and hypothesise can be an excellent tool to aid us in our life, but we are not meant to dwell there. Only briefly visit these scenarios to help make wise decisions, and then get back to the here and now.  Dont spend hours there and warp out the imagined situations into ridiculous negative delusional worlds and send yourself into a scared and quivering depressed mess.

Feel Good: Accept what is, and live fully right in the Now. Take in this moment with all of your senses.

If you have bad thoughts that consistently make you feel shit i recommend this book that will help you SHUT THE HELL UP: Stop Thinking, Start Living 

or check out anything by the weird genius that is, Eckhart Tolle.

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beat the music industry, creation, life

ALTER YOUR EGO

conk unzip cut

Who are YOU?

Since the passing of my bandmate Dr Conker recently i have been giving a lot of thought to the person i present to the world. Is this really me?

Dr Conker was a crazy dancer who didn’t give a fuck, the ultimate party animal who cared less than anybody else in the world. He pushed the limits of letting go, and no one could challenge it. But in real life, Alan  was a librarian. He ran a book shop from home and was a quiet reserved man. He smoked rollies and hardly spoke. He was well read and had lots of opinions on politics and spirituality, but never forced his views on anyone.  Why did they both exist? Was the creation of Conker essential for discovering  his complete person? Was his last naked dance the final piece in the puzzle of completing himself as a person and therefore the key to him being able to move to the next dimension he often talked of?

The last time i seen him he sold me a book, Building a Character, by Constantin Stanislavki. I started to read this and it began to delve into the workings of becoming someone else, and how you needed to be yourself at the same time and use untapped parts of yourself, until you merely became the observer of your new character. And let it take over.

Dr Conker was definitly an alter ego for Alan to shed his shy and quiet ways and become the complete person and party animal that he wanted to be. He would transform from Bookworm to Party Animal every weekend and make thousands of people go crazy with him. The online support for him after he passed has been massive and there’s no denying he touched many many people. Was this because he gave a glimpse into becoming the whole person we all could be? Instead of the limited thought-out boring fake we construct to get by in the world.

In being ourself we are limited, as Yourself is merely a self-conscious character you chose to portray to people to elicit a certain reaction. You are a fake. You have made your persona – contrived a way of being to get what you want from people. What if you decided to become someone other than yourself? What might happen? Could the core of you or the universe shine through brighter the more you let go?

I watched the documentary Hip Hop Hoax the other night. Two Scottish lads failing in the music world… who then decide to become American. 24 hours a day, they create brand new personalities. Their families are freaked out, and then their fan base booms, everyone wants to know them, and they sign a £50,000 record deal in no time.

Instead of trying to be ourselves all the time, taking on a new persona can allow for deep integrity to really shine out of the cracks. Shedding our Self is the ultimate in Letting Go. Drop the ego and achieve enlightenment.

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“I believed fully and sincerely in the reality of what I was doing and feeling; out of this there emerged a sense of confidence in myself and in the rightness of the image i had created, in the sincerity of his actions. This was not the self-confidence of a person absorbed in himself, a self-conscious actor; it was something of a quite different nature, akin to a conviction of it’s own integrity” -Stanislavski

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creation

The Tools Of Your Trade

Blake_ancient_of_days

Today i have a guest post from a friend, Anthony J Burns. We have enjoyed many conversations while off our faces on caffeine about creativity, inspiration and other shit. I asked him to pen some words about capturing inspiration and he has offered us this little gem. Drop us a comment to let us know what  you think. You can contact Anthony for writing projects etc at ajdburns@yahoo.co.uk

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The following quote, from the poet P B Shelley, may come as a comfort to artists who fret about needing a lot of planning and theoretical knowledge before embarking on their dream career or project. On the other hand, it will probably just vex artists who have difficulty getting started on a project per se

“Poetry is not like reasoning, a power to be exerted according to the determination of the will. A man cannot say, “I will compose poetry.” The greatest poet even cannot say it; for the mind in creation is as a fading coal, which some invisible influence, like an inconstant wind, awakens to transitory brightness […]. Could this influence be durable in its original purity and force, it is impossible to predict the greatness of the results; but when composition begins, inspiration is already on the decline, and the most glorious poetry that has ever been communicated to the world is probably a feeble shadow of the original conceptions of the poet. I appeal to the greatest poets of the present day, whether it is not an error to assert that the finest passages of poetry are produced by labour and study. The toil and the delay recommended by critics can be justly interpreted to mean no more than a careful observation of the inspired moments, and an artificial connexion of the spaces between their suggestions […].”

Shelley, A Defence of Poetry

If the art of making great art is thus mainly communicative – trying to get the clearest possible copy of your own “fading coal” to show to your audience before the real thing fades forever – then the role of the artist can be interpreted as almost passive: no more than a broadband cable for some higher force or consciousness to send their mysterious emails to the rest of humanity.

Still, lest any artist take this as an excuse for not taking any interest at all in the theory of their artform, or setting aside any serious time to practice it even in the times when inspiration is not flashing a neon sign in their head, it ought to be noted that Shelley – though he gives paramount importance to inspiration – does not say that “labour and study” are pointless. Far from it, he describes them much as the cement holding the bricks of inspiration together. Without them, there is no “connexion” or structure: just a heap of disorganised inspirations, inaccessible to anyone other than the artist, whatever the brilliance of the original inspiration. As C S Lewis put it, if you have the finest wines and oils and just pour them on the floor, all you are left with is a puddle.

Lewis also states that, in a way, inspiration can be seen as less important than “labour and study,” as knowing the tools of your trade (how to play an instrument; paint realistic still lives; craft a taut, suspenseful thriller etc.) will empower you to create an entertaining and accessible, if unoriginal work. Real artistry, he suggests, lies in combining the two modes, so that the truly inspired artist will always have the tools at their disposal to put the jewels of their inspirations within a setting that is accessible to their public. An obvious deficiency on either side can be just as tragic. The scornful laughs that so much modern art gets for seeming to revel in its own up-its-own-arse obscurity are as merited as those which much of pop culture receives for being technically competent but shallow, soulless, and juvenile. Since there is little danger that Pete Waterman et al will start listening to Shelley’s “invisible influence” while there is still a fat wad of cash to be made by churning out well-crafted drivel, surely it falls to artists of integrity, who are not afraid of following inspiration, but may be afraid of “labour and study,” to arm themselves with all of the weapons of the enemy. If the artist’s role is that of a messenger, then any practice, theory, or tried-and-tested convention that helps them to get that message across is worth having in the toolbox, even if for only occasional use.

Not that this means you need a PhD in any given subject before you even try writing a song or story, and the many great artists who have had no formal training testifies to it. But a determination to practice and immerse yourself within your field is a must whether you do it in a university or your own bedroom. Inspiration may fly by at any time, and the better equipped you are for catching it, the more effectively you will get it across to your audience.

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life

Robbing the Dead

ImageI am in complete disbelief at some of the actions of some people around the time of a death.

I mean i haven’t experienced many close people dying to me, the closest being my Grandad about 15 years ago. Until losing a bandmate last week. Dr Conker’s passing to the other side has brought out some weird things in people. I won’t name names as i think it may be a little embarrassing for them.

But i am keeping a list.

So far, the list consists of people who are trying to get at Dr’s books, people who have taken things from his living room, people who are claiming he owed them money, people trying to profit from the situation, people who are after his belongings and people who are just talking of money and personal losses with no consideration for the feelings of his family or close ones.

UNFUCKINGBELIEVABLE.

After we have sent off our friend, i am bringing out the samurai, adorning my inflatable pink ninja suit and i’m coming for you insensitive bastards.

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life, the sicknote diaries

The Ascension of Dr Conker

Conker Smashed

So me and Doghouse not been seeing eye to eye for quite a while and despite several attempts to solve the situation, it still sucked hard. This divide in the band and constant problem between us has caused the band trouble for a long time. We got in the car together and i put my foot down hard as we headed off to the Filths house in West Wales. I really didn’t want to go.

The rain poured so hard on us we could hardly see as i swerved through the dark Welsh lanes playing The Doors on cassette.

We stayed the night and neither of us hardly slept.

The next day we helped Filth out with some family chores and then we put his family up in one of the bedrooms and set up the band through a 2k soundsystem in his living room. It was halloween and we made a racket for a few hours. We laid down a jam for a new track which seemed to click despite us not being able to create for quite some time together. I had found a new way to record the band straight into my laptop for the first time ever, and this excited me!  I done a quick mix on it and exported it for us to enjoy. We all agreed this song was a classic, and like all our best material, it seemed to write itself, with no discussion between the band, just capturing us tuned into the ether. We wrapped up and i fucked off and found some space away from them as i was craving solitude.

“When people don’t express themselves, they die one piece at a time.” 
― Laurie Halse Anderson

The following day i took a drive down to Wiseman’s Bridge and walked along the coast. I was blown away by the beauty of this area, and i watched the sea bulge out into the horizon as the sun dropped and the rain soaked me through. I got to Queens Hall in plenty of time for Soundcheck and went back stage and slapped the headphones on and continued in my studio experiments.

The lads turned up and we soundchecked,  i headed off down to a busy local bar, found a sofa in the backroom and disappeared in my headphones again to a world of sound.

When i returned the backstage was rammed with people all dressed up and looking messy.

Sheep had cancelled as Mrs Filth had German Measels and this could be dangerous for the pregnant Mrs Sheep,  there was a good chance i might have it too after hanging out with Family Filth. Dom Bassflange sent Sheep a photo of Conkers penis and we all laughed our asses off. We headed for stage and the vibe was weird. We dropped the new song and the place went serious… I wanted to call the new song ‘Making Angels’, Doghouse wanted to call it ‘Nice and Deep’. Never on the same page. But the atmospere was set and Conker took to stage and we delivered a serious and slamming performance with various fruits and freaks joining us on stage and thankfully being dragged off by Keith It Real one by one.

For the encore we dropped Righteous. And the place went mental. From behind me Conker came bouncing onto stage completely bollock naked apart from his Doctor Martins and me and Johnny NoCash looked at each other in disbelief. The Dr jumped up and down screaming with his pecker slapping all over the place. I picked up the bottle of water i was drinking and flung it at him, soaking my laptop on takeoff, the water seeped between the keys but i couldnt stop the music – the place was going off, and the stage was rammed – later i realised i fucked up several keys on Smaragda my laptop (this is being typed with external keyboard). Then we dropped Whitey. The last tune.

As Doghouse left stage he spewed all over the steps from the stress of it all and we all stepped in it as we left.

I wanted to get back to Cardiff pretty quick so me, Conker and Johnny dived in the car. Johnny was a little pissed off as he wanted some brandy from the rider but someone refused to share it with him. Conk fell asleep in the back and me and Johny chatted all the way home scoffing chocolate fingers from the rider.

First gig back in a few months… a weird one, but an explosion for halloween for sure. Little did we know this would be the final performance of the Doctor. And what a performance it was. The first full naked performance. On Halloween. In The Queens Hall. In West Wales.

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”
― Mark Twain

I popped in to see Conker  a few days later with a pack of hobnobs and he made me a cup of filter coffee. We chatted about books mainly, about money, the future, a little about the gig and i bought some books off him. He seemed in great spirits and had even cleaned his kitchen!!! We laughed for an hour and i went on my way.

A week later i noticed Doghouse dissing some of my studio work online and I was ready to fucking explode. We were scheduled to go to Swansea together on the train for a meeting with a new potential booking agent. We met in a cafe before hand. A 2nd hand book he had just bought was placed on the table next to his steaming mug of coffee. It was Stanislavski, the first part of the book i had bought from Conker last week! WHAT WERE THE CHANCES OF THAT?  for the first time we engaged in a conversation in which we opened up to each other about our hatred for each other and the reasons why the band was falling apart. He hated me as much as i hated him!!!!! We argued and moaned for hours, missing the train and missing the meeting. We both said for the first time ever, that today we were willing to walk away from the project as it was making us unhappy. After both admitting this a turning point seemed to emerge and we decided to try and understand where each other was coming from. We got into a warm pub as it got dark and seemed eventually to find some common ground and potential new ideas from where we could rebuild Sicknote from. We drank and talked more, devising a plan to get us back on track – and suddenly –  we were getting on. I won’t go into details but lets say this may have been the 1st time we been on the same page in a few years. And it felt good.

We hug! And leave, both, i think, feeling relieved and some what back on track and excited.

The following evening i update my facebook with a quote that kept coming to mind from Steve Jobs about death. You can read it at the bottom of this post. i receive a call less than an hour later from Flakey. Conker is Dead.

It appears he died yesterday. Possibly as me and Doghouse were sorting everything out. He passed gently to the other side, in his sleep.

I cycle to his house at 2am, a massive odd shaped moon hangs bright above his chimney, i sit in his living room. His necklace is there, his Chavez t-shirt thrown over a box and other random personal things scattered around,  his fag buts still in the ashtray. I sit in silence. Tears fall down my face. There’s a warm feeling almost like he’s still there or maybe that where ever he is, that other dimension, that he is ok. I look over at the seat i last seen him in last week, and behind where his head was a big thick book sticks out off the shelf, ‘The Curtain Falls’.

I drink a cup of tea with Tommy Tank and we sit in silence.

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We are releasing the song we made on halloween, the night before Conkers last gig. It will be some time this week, i think we have agreed on the title ‘Black Cloud’.  It will be dedicated to Dr Conker. All gigs are cancelled. We will be in touch in 2014 after we have mourned the loss of our own personal legend, our spiritual guide and friend, Dr Conker.

RIP brother. We knew you would be first to ascend, as you always said you would. See you some time soon. Adios.

Flappy

x

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“Alright Conk?”

“Aye.”

a song for Conker

images

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“Death is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Your time is limited, so don’t waste it.” 
-Steve Jobs

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beat the music industry, creation, my shit

What the fuck is this Axiom 23 thing

Just what is this all about? I have no idea. It was a vague plan to pull together a set of rules to restrict the creative process to see what interesting things might come. The project aim is to improve my abilities in my passion as a producer by committing to create 23 brand new songs in 23 consecutive days . And this is the only rule i started with. I meant to write a load more rules before i started, but it seems to be forming into an exercise in breaking all rules that i have built up over my time as a producer…

How does it work and what is the point?

Well, im finding out as i go along. Im just finishing up my 14th track in 14 days and its been a mental journey so far. Its proving to be a great way of dealing with all the demons in the way of me making the music i want to make.

Its helping me in

  • organising myself.
  • asserting myself to people who want to drain me.
  • mixing music better.
  • listening better.
  • prioritising my creative work.
  • cleaning my studio.
  • establishing a routine.
  • trying new things.
  • dedicating myself to my work.
  • letting go of songs.
  • delving deeper into the creative process.
  • getting into the zone / flow.
  • understanding inspiration and where it lives.
  • exploring new worlds.
  • dealing with embarrassment.
  • highlighting my problem areas in mixing.
  • falling out with everyone.
  • improving skills.
  • getting into the moment.

23 tracks at around 5 minutes each, all fit quite nicely on a free soundcloud account… so i recommend this project to any producers out there… just begin, and get going with a fresh tune a day. Obviously they arent going to be masterpieces, but its not about that. Forget the feedback, just get them up there and move on. So far there are no rules other than finishing one a day and breaking as many of your habits as possible and establishing your Ritual (more on that later).

ultimatley, my aim is to make sounds like no one has ever heard and become the best producer i can possibly be. Theres something about making the music public as well, its like it sounds completely different as soon as its up there. And suddenly you hear it properly for the first time – but i enforced a rule that says once its uploaded you have to move on, and trust me, this has been hard as i really wanted to go back and sort the crappy ones out! But no, its more important to have your shit on show and get used to the feelings and live with the mistakes. Practicing in public advances you quicker in your passion than any other way.

I will describe Axiom 23 in much better detail when i reach the finish line just before my birthday.

Here are my tunes so far…

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The notion that I do my work here, now, like this, even when I do not feel like it, and especially when I do not feel like it, is very important. Because lots and lots of people are creative when they feel like it, but you are only going to become a professional if you do it when you don’t feel like it. And that emotional waiver is why this is your work and not your hobby.”

– Seth Godin

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