Tag Archive: Thinking Out Loud

I have failed to be a failed musician

September 21, 2011

I’ve spent years failing to be a musician, and now I’m just about ready, with a bit of hard work to become a failed musician.

Three of the things I most want to do with my life are art, photography and music, not for profit or the adoration of others (although both would be a pleasant bonus) but for my own enjoyment. I have as yet failed to do much of any of these. I had a brief spate of success with photography – success in the sense that I actually did some, rather than I was a successful photographer – which I put down more to the enthusiasm of my good friend Scott (a very talented photographer) with whom I used to make many trips to explore and photograph things. Unfortunately a change my life circumstance have made it increasingly difficult to find time out for such trips and I can’t seem to get up the enthusiasm for the art on my own at home (a poor excuse).

The primary issue I have is that I just don’t know how to write music, I don’t quite get the creative process and as such am afraid of mediocrity and failure, although as with any other art form failure and mediocrity must be part of the process, very few (if any) are able to pick up a skill and be stunning at it straight off, you need to fail to learn and be a bit shit before you can be less shit.

An important part of any creative process (for me) is the social side, having people you can learn with and from. The times I’ve been most active have been when I’ve been spending plenty of time with proper musicians, most notably Nick Reincarnationfish –  who introduced me to the software I love (Reason and Ableton Live) and also to an awful lot of the music that has inspired me over the years. Nick has unfortunately and selfishly moved to Leeds which prevents my easily hanging around his flat making unpleasant noises. There are plenty of online locations for the socially impoverished to knock about ideas and techniques, but frankly I’ve always found them to be a bit intimidating and scathing to the uninformed (me).

Recently my relationship with writing music has changed for the better. Some friends had some ideas for a small musical project which I’m helping out with, this has instantly highlighted how fucking awful I am at writing music, but also given me the impetus to start learning properly. In the past I avoided the need to actually learn and understand by insisting on writing impenetrable experimental noise and shitty remixes (which I shall not be posting online), to be fair to myself, I was interested in writing impenetrable experimental noise so it’s not all bad. When sitting down to write something a bit more straight forward – you know, choruses, verses, drums, bass and lead – I have not a clue where to start, but that’s fine I’ll start at zero and work my way up. I’ve shed the fear of mediocrity, I know everything I write initially will be shit, I just won’t play it to anyone.

One of the big setbacks I’ve had to deal with is my workaholism. Having spent years with the mindset that if I’m awake I should be working and if I’m awake and not working I’m worrying that I’m not working has made it difficult to do anything that I cannot tie directly to work. I’m working (haha) on this and intend to be 40% less mental by the end of the year. I’m currently forcing myself to spend an hour a day doing something creative which is not work related. This generally happens about midnight when sleep would be more sensible but it’s a step.

This has all caused me to become stupidly excited about the forthcoming release of the next version of Reason . I absolutely love Reason, and Propellerhead in general, their attitude to their customers has always been fantastic, as displayed in their current Pay What You Want deal. I’ve always had this awful habit with Reason (and Ableton Live) of upgrading to the latest version, playing with it for a few hours  and then ignoring it until the next version comes out. I’ve been fighting this with my sudden massive geek love for James Bernard whose blog and tutorials manage to be exciting, interesting and not at all elitist or condescending. I’ve learned more about sound design and production in the last week than in the entire previous 35 years (thanks James).

So, maybe this year I’ll finally write that album I keep promising myself.

(I am aware that this blog is increasingly a blog of excuses for not doing creative things rather than a blog about the creative things I have done. I am very aware of this.)

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I am Bob. This is my blog. It is an outlet and a substitute for real life. It contains my art, photography, illustration and thoughts on mental health (I deal with anxiety on a pretty much constant basis).

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