Crawling On

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Beachside beats. The photo is of my makeshift studio as I’m roughing out some of the beats for ‘Chasing the Wind’ on our beachside holiday. Note the lonely headland overlooking a wonderful stretch of coastline. Needless to say I spent more time on the surfboard than the laptop….. I’m only human.

New songs? Now? Indeed. Interestingly I stumbled on 1.6 new songs over the last weeks (I wasn’t planning on writing, but it seems some songs decide when they arrive). One is true but uncomfortable, the other (the incomplete one) I really like without reservation. I think they are not for this EP, but I won’t say never. The producer part of my brain thinks this is inconvenient timing and that I should focus on finishing the others first, but that part can shut up.

For the eyes. I already have an EP title and my plan was to take an image from a very talented photographer friend of mine for the cover art. But while away at the coast I caught an image on my iphone for a moment as a storm rolled in and the first few drops fell. It’s a beautiful picture of clouds against the top of a tree, and I felt like it fitted better than anything else could have. So I went straight to amplifying it and have since chopped it to add words and other elements (including a background photo from an old disused roller skating rink I got yesterday). I’m going to go with it for the cover of the EP.

I’ll post the art and title together soon. Very soon.

Updated, just like that. But now for some self-diagnosis-via-blogging. Feel free to stick around for my session on the couch if you want to see some more of my flaws.

While I was going to call this post ‘marching on’, ‘crawling on’ seemed somehow truer. Because of the frustratingly slow pace of things.

And yet now as I read what I just typed I realise how far things have come. Who says it’s slow?

This looks like another interesting mechanism I’m having to face in myself. I feel like this is taking forever, until I think rationally. Then I realise things are going along fine. Odd, right? Why does it feel so slow?

Here are some theories. I have given them all titles because I am in the mood for titles today.

Orbiting Clinical Directives (OCD).
People could listen to my music, or the greatest other music ever made by humans- just as easily. Why oh why choose mine? I need to do the best possible job I can.
This awareness can make me hold on too tight to little things. It’s tough to thread the line though, a bunch of OCD can make something incredible – and then just as quickly suck out all life. I’m learning slowly.

Goodbye Hobby (Horse?).
What’s the biggest difference between playing keyboard all night and making a song? Truthfully, enjoyment.
Playing keyboard for me on my own is relaxing, an escape. I play what I want for as long as I want and the goal is pretty much good feelings.
Making a song is work. For a more wonderful purpose, but a big chunk is menial. Jiggling midi notes around in a sweltering hot room, comping vocals, fixing up volumes, lists, notes, records.
It not glamour, it’s work. Thus it feels slower and more exhausting.
But the satisfaction is many times greater.

OH so many Hats.
I don’t have a producer. Or a art director. Or a mix engineer, a mastering engineer, editor, media consultant, graphic designer, any assistants or bandmates or even session musicians.
This avoids a lot of arguments and it’s way cheaper. But it seems those people actually do things for other artists. Liiiiiiike planning, deadlines, concepts, scheduling, fresh ears, sanity checks, unexpected ideas, meshing tastes, filling space and 7,845 audio adjustments to take something from sounding weak to wonderful. I consider myself versatile, but even if I could muster expertise in all those areas, I would still struggle to bring them forth in the right order at the right times. The skills are truly worlds apart.
Sometimes I’m feeling tweaky and staring at a blank canvas. Other times I’m big picture when I really need to spend a few hours leveling volumes by hand. Yesterday I turned the studio on, wrote a list of exactly I needed to create to finish the next song, and promptly sat down on the other side of the room and worked on the cover art while my warm gear made the room a sauna.
Mismatches make it feel more like the grindstone, and make me feel silly.

La La Land OR ‘avert your eyes from all productive superstars’.
There is some part in me that thinks it should really be a cinch to make music. Write whatever you like, throw a few parts down, sing over the top, done. Hour tops. And if that sounds like trash then I guess I just don’t have talent.
Welcome to my imaginary wonderland where good artists just breathe out great music and nail spine-chilling vocal takes first time.
The result for me is either:
1. Believe that it should be easier and become lazy or give up. Either or.
2. Carry on the hard work but feel lonely and that it won’t be worth it.
This one definitely has the most poison and the least good in it.
It is also the most demonstrably untrue. My favourite artists work, suffer, and pay harrowing costs to create their best. I know that.
But the lie is always being whispered in my ear from different sources, and my frazzled brain can sometimes amble down the path.
Must remember nothing valuable is easy.
Nothing valuable is easy.
Nothing valuable is easy.
Nothing valuable is easy.
I need to write that on my own forehead.

So in the end it’s probably a mix of all these theories.
But fast or slow, glamorous or lonely – I’m committed now. I will release music of my own soon.
Take that, inner sabotage.

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