beat the music industry, creation, life, my shit

becoming a drummer. day 1.

I packed my rucksack, had a big arsed brekky, exported the rest of the instrumentals and headed off out into the sun.

I walked through town with a bounce in my step. I was feeling good. I had a focus now. Getting back from france last week I hit a rocky bottom immediately. The food and the sun and the good living had come to an end. The morning after landing I found myself in tesco, surrounded by nutrition free lumps of corpse wrapped in plastic. And pesticide laced identical looking vegetables; Gone were the wonky misshapen, beautiful fruits that nature seemed to squeeze out with pleasure. I could no longer pluck them from the vine, still warm from the sun as they squelched their organic goodness directly into my blood stream.

Now, I could unwrap an avocado from Kenya, which had  been force fed chemicals and forced to grow in a factory then shrink wrapped,. stuck on a truck, then a plane. Then a truck, then a warehouse, then another truck and now I was stood in front of it feeling sorry for the poor bastard. There was no goodness left init. They may as well print one out on a 3d printer. And it had probably been injected with something to make it last. When I was picking veg from the potage in france if I didn’t eat it immediatley then with in two days or so it had gone soggy and disgusting. But tesco’s finest veg was probably plucked weeks ago and it still looked unripe. suspicious.

I walked around the strip lighted cube of shrink-wrapped death.
I left. I hid under my duvet for 2 days. The grey poured through my window. The view a derelict building covered in pigeon shit. The smell Subway Meatballs pumping out of a silver chimney. to the left outside of my window a glass panel was still boarded up and the smell of death hung in the air. my neighbour had fallen through it to her death a year ago. I read some Marcus Aurelius. No amount of Stoicism could fend off this paradise hangover.

I ignored all texts and calls.

Is this my reality? Is this the reality I have chosen for myself. A shithole housing association flat. Is this where I want to be as I approach 40? Alone, unloved and unloving, in my pit.

I looked around., half the room was piled full of crap. I didn’t want any of it, but yet couldn’t throw any of it.  The other half of my room contained my studio which I had just set up. 2 large yamaha speakers a consellation prize for 9 years of hard work in my previous band, before we lost a bandmate and it all crumbled to nothing. And the brain of the studio was a mac mini, a computer that used to belong to a friend who died of alcohol related problems. All my leads were crammed into a box which i inherited from my mate’s dead dad’s workshop. A vinyl record of my old defunct band hung on the wall shot to pieces with a gun. sicknote: the johnny no-cash remix. Behind where my exflat mate’s head board used to be there was a wide mass of fading grey / black drips all down to the skirting board. One wall featured a big orangey brown stain about face height that also spread out and dripped downward to about knee height. The place stunk. Lots of holes and cracking plasterboard and big stains and shit on the smelly carpet.

Why am I such a messy cunt.

Surrounded by death and grey.

Luckily I had no time for much musings. I had a deadline. A live gig in 10 days for a project I had never taken live. We had created a collection of songs last winter in the bigger room, when I was set up in there. We released it as an album and a few people got off on it. Not that many. Then we got a booking last month. I flew back from France. And if it wasn’t for the gig I don’t think I would have.

So I snapped out of the gloom over the course of 6 icecreams and a huge dose of Montaigne.

I cleaned the room bit by bit over a day or 3. I met a few friends in cafes and drank tea and talked shit.

Then today I headed down to the crypt: a local rehearsal space for the community. I was presented with a present from my band mate and good mate, Pestis. My first set of drum sticks. Buzzing my tits off. I set up the Crypt’s drum kit. in completely the wrong way. discarding the kick and bringing a tom, snare, crash and the bottom of a hi hat all to about waist height. I stood there surrounded by my new friends. Fuck playing the mouse. Lets GO…..

But,.Could I play?

Dj Slipped Disc Jocky clicked the tunes into motion. Pestis grabbed his 50s style ribbon mic and started to strut his stuff. Flakey adorned her silver waist jewels and began to rotate her hips.

And I smashed the holy fuck out of the drum kit, completely out of time, all over the fucking place, with not a single fucking care in the world.

I will never play a mouse on stage again as long as I live. And i may never fill a pot with compost again….
Who knows whats next…

But for now………………………….

Let the clusterfuck commence.

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beat the music industry, creation, life

Don’t Try

Shortcut your way to success! Get more followers! Become famous! Buy plays! Buy Likes! Buy Comments!? What the fuck is going on.

There’s more music in the world, made by more people, available in more places than ever before. And people are buying less music than ever before. This is the first year there hasn’t been a platinum selling album. ‘Talent’ shows spew lame cover versions into millions of living rooms. Thousands of Beige-core bands, born from the whimpering arse of Chris Martin, wail in unison to the bored and silent mp3 generation.

Have we lost our minds?

Or have we lost our soul...

Your favourite band selfishly made music they LOVED. It was REAL. It was honest. And you got it. You felt the same! And you bought their albums and fell in love.

The best artists don’t consider their audience. They just keep working and keep digging and keep improving and keep creating. They keep expressing. When we express it all honestly and raw, people connect! ‘Difficult second album’ syndrome only exists because suddenly there is an audience to consider. ‘OH DEAR! What WILL THEY THINK! What will they expect from us?’

Trying is the opposite of expressing. Maybe that’s why Bukowski’s epitaph reads ‘Don’t Try’.

Surrender. Express from a place of contentment.  Create for no reason other than to create. Create because you love creating. Thousands of your ideas will fail. Keep creating. Do not dictate to the universe what it needs, get out of the way and let it tell you. Evolution is not a thinking process.

The more selfish you are, the more selfless the finished product will be. Self expression comes from the soul. All of our souls are connected. This is space. The Uni-verse. One true verse. The closer you can get to it, the more it will resonate with other human beings.

Bleed.

Be scared when you share your work. If you’re not embarrassed at the rawness of your creation, if you are not shaking when you put it into the world, then don’t.

If you think you’ve got it sussed, then you’re a million miles away.

Bow down to the unknown. Get to work. Get insanely honest. Be prepared for no one to give a single fuck.

Don’t Try.

And maybe, just maybe, your next creation will RESONATE.

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beat the music industry, creation

Big Fish, Little Pond

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You could spend a lifetime looking for a little baby fish in the pacific ocean and it would be pretty unlikely you would ever find him.

However, if Moby Dick was to drop from the sky and land in a puddle in a city 2,000 miles away there’s a good chance, even if you wasn’t around to witness it, that you would hear about it.

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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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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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beat the music industry, creation

Creation – Are You Out Of Your Mind?

getting in the zone to create.. how do we do this? is it worth just working away even if we arent in the zone – and try and work our way to get into the zone or are we better off STOPPING completely and doing something completely different?

Seth Godin wrote a blog entry entitled Talkers Block in which he gave a strong argument for going to work regardless of what mood we are in. We must turn up and get on with it he says, and not let anything get in our way.

I was very excited upon reading this and have been flat out working DAILY on new project Axiom 23, in which i am to create and upload a brand new song every single day for 23 days, loosely following the Axiom rules.

However, a song i have been working on over the last few days really struggled to take shape. i was far from being in the creative zone…. i forced it and hammered it and pushed forward and tried to make the best of it… and i ended up with a pretty sad song (Axiom 6). Now, i know i cant expect to make a masterpiece in one day, but just the other day i made a song in a few hours which i would say is one of best songs i have ever made (Axiom 4), and it felt so easy. everything just slotted in and i was in the moment completely and almost felt like i was witnessing something else create the song as i zoned out into a nonthinking zombie state. Inspiration arrived and i grabbed it and let it use me as a vessel. in order to make space for it i had to EMPTY myself completely. and this i think is the key…. SPACE!

The terrible song took 2 days of constant awareness and thinking and rationalising and i was creating from a very different place. I was aware of every painful minute and didnt enjoy the process very much. It was like a battle with myself to try and make something good. It wasnt an expression, it was a chore.

If youre not tuned fully into the moment and empty and READY then there is no way you can capture inspiration, as you are cut off from the universe where inspiration and ideas live. connect to it or miss out. are you in your MIND – wrong place!!! try again. Time to get out of your mind.

Sometimes, its better to get the hell away from the shit. AND REBOOT yourself, take yourself to a completely different place and get back in tune.

why was i in the flow one day and totally out of it the next?

could me many reasons, maybe…

  • Panicking as i was missing deadlines
  • Too many coffees
  • Trying to make a song that people will like
  • Giving up time to people and leaving myself none
  • Eating too much meat and crap
  • Not being present and trying to multitask
  • Thinking about things that I need to sort out
  • Impatience to complete project
  • Aiming for the destination and forgetting to enjoy the journey

I will write more this week on how to get in the zone, i struggled a lot today and am currently experimenting with different ideas. I plan to give you all the methods you need to connect to the place where inspiration lives any time you need to, and will share my findings with you. 1st step for me is giving up coffee and structuring the time i give people to ensure i dont leave myself short. Then i will try out various ways of connecting / emptying myself / getting in the moment… any ideas please add to the comments below!

Get in your zone, tune into the higher force….. be the hunter, not the builder. Inspiration is out there and you need to capture the bastard. You do this by 1st making room for it and then connecting to the universe / higher force / everything / nothingness / space.  Then when an inspiration comes your way from the nothingness, you grab it and give it permission to possess your entire being. Let it take over you until it has completely used you like a foetus connected and living off all of your faculties. And then, when the time is right, it is born into our world. Your baby. Your art. But, its not really yours at all. You are just the host…

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