Just two weeks ago, we lost one of the greatest minds of our time. If you are or are not familiar with Hitchens’ passionate arguments against tyranny, fascism, dogmatism and religious zealotry, enjoy this montage. Thankfully, science and technology have granted us an extension of our mortality, in that our words, actions and works may be captured and saved for generations to come.
Archive for December, 2011
I don’t care if listeners know I worked on a record. Most of them are only concerned with whether or not they like the song. Those that do care about credits will do the research and figure it out. I also don’t tag and stamp my tracks. If you use my stuff without permission, I call my lawyer. So long as the people who cut the checks know my work, I’m good. Furthermore, I’ve always found it tacky for producers names or voices to be heard on records. I understand that people don’t read liner notes any more (if they even exist) and so it may be tempting for a beatmaker to have his name shouted on a record, but I make my living doing what I do. For many, that shout out is their only payment, so I don’t begrudge them. But for me, I let the artist shine.
All that being said, if you’re going to credit me, get it right. I would rather you not credit me at all if you’re going to misspell my name, credit someone else for my work, credit everyone else for their contributions while omitting mine, or credit me for something I didn’t do. Errors like these are unprofessional, and I don’t want to be associated with Bush League projects. Read the contract or the invoice. If you have any questions, send an e-mail. Pick up the phone. Do yourself a service and get it right.
Boring people usually do boring things. This is circular reasoning of course because it is mainly our actions, or lack there of, that make us “boring” or “interesting.” I rarely meet boring people who create music that interests me. It is usually the ones who lead interesting lives outside of music, who have collected the experiences needed to create works I find remarkable.
Perhaps this is the reason that many gifted musicians are terrible songwriters. The time it takes to become a concert master pianist or a first violinist in a world class orchestra may be so great that it leaves little time for anything else. The concert pianist and violinist spend countless hours learning to play the most complicated pieces ever written for their respective instruments, and as a result often lead otherwise boring lives. While they may be celebrated as one of only half a dozen people in the world who can play a particular composition with such mastery, their technical proficiency dwarfs their own creativity. Meanwhile, a less technically gifted musician is busy writing hit songs because while that person dedicates his or her life to their craft, he or she still finds the time to have the experiences necessary to create new things. If all one does is work on music, where does the inspiration come from? One has to make time to laugh, love, stumble, fall and get back up, so there is a palette full of colors with which to create.
Ever wonder why your favorite artist can’t quite strike a tone with you like they did with their earlier work? Perhaps it is because that early work was written by a person, not an overworked star living in a bubble.
Does popular music in general seem stale to you? You’re not alone. Our high paced techno-culture demands that artists cycle faster. This leaves little time for the reflection needed for creativity. Hip hop has become notorious for this. Artists have to constantly put out material to stay relevant and as a result, dilute their creativity into mediocrity. A group like A Tribe Called Quest used to spend a year producing an album. After its release they would spend a year touring then another year making the next record. Just when you started wondering what they were up to, they would drop a new record. They took their time, lived their lives, and chose quality over quantity. Nowadays, this cycle is compressed from two years into six months making it extremely difficult for an artist to maintain a consistent quality and freshness in their music.
I sometimes go long stretches without writing or composing new material. In my younger years, I would be bothered by this and would perceive it as a lack of productivity. I soon realized that these long periods of down time weren’t down time at all. They in fact were the times I needed to charge my creative battery and experience life. When inspiration would finally strike, it wasn’t born out of thin air. It was seeded in those periods of so-called inactivity, and when it would finally bloom it would often do so in an onslaught of ideas with fantastic results.
Work ethic is a key in any venture, but I encourage my fellow creators to live full lives and pull themselves away from trying to be the next big thing just long enough to have the experiences from which to build. The resulting music will be better and the process will be much more satisfying.