"Between the World and Black Thought" - A Connection
A Lesson from Failure
NPR recently released a sit-down interview with Black Thought that is so unbelievably insightful and well worth a watch. I really connected with the beginning of the video, where Black Thought talks about how his music has matured and how he's grown as an artist. How his music has a new lyrical depth than what he was making at 20 years old.
Black Thought is the voice of reason I needed to hear. I'm 25; I know that's not "old," but I've been making music now for more than 10 years. I wonder if I'm relevant enough to make music anymore, if anyone still cares to hear it. I don't want to write like a pop singer anymore; I don't feel connected to my naive teenage self. Now that my perspective has changed, will I still connect to my audience?
(Video after the jump)
"You'd be famous if you didn't write love songs"
It's been a long while since I've had the opportunity to fail at something I truly care about. This past weekend I competed in my first dance competition in over 7 years. I gave it my best shot, I felt super confident in my performance... I came nowhere near winning. I was crushed; I doubted my ability, my self-perception, and even whether I wanted to continue dancing. My ego was definitely bruised. But I am thankful for losing; I've learned a really valuable lesson about my creative self.
I Miss the Early Days of YouTube
I really enjoy getting feedback from you all when I share my creativity. I think it's really special to have the opportunity to connect with so many of you I've never had the chance to meet in the real world. It's difficult at times to respond to you all, especially now that I'm an adult with grown-up responsibilities and music has taken a backseat. But I swear I read every message you all send!
Some comments stick with me for a very long time. Like, for example, a long while ago (I think I was in high school at the time... so 10ish years ago?) someone wrote on my YouTube channel something along the lines of "You should stop writing so many love songs. You'd be famous if you wrote about something else, just saying." Now I know, I know. Sticks and stones, right? But this one stung! I felt like I let one of my fans down simply by writing song upon song about love.
Grateful | Music Recommendation - The Staves
This is a long post of me whining about being old and not knowing how to be social media savvy anymore. TL;DR: I want your feedback. Feel free to email me or leave a note in the comments. I want to know...
- Where do you go to find new music?
- What social media do you find yourself using most? Why?
- Are you craving a more personal form of social media like I am? Would you give anything to get back your chronological timeline?
Motivation = Dance
This past year has been a big year for personal growth. Most notably, I became a developer and I've been in love with the job ever since. We started a new project at work the other day and it's made me realize something-- some of us need to be making things all the time to feel grounded. I didn't fully grasp how integral creativity was to my life until last year, when I started devoting the majority of my time building and finessing websites and apps. I no longer feel lost; I feel satisfied.
I'm really lucky to have found this career path. It's not only given me stability, but I have a renewed excitement to make art. I no longer feel like I need to take on a new persona to fit into a career that doesn't allow me to be me. I started writing again; the last time I wrote a song was 3 years ago. I feel the most like me these past couple of days than I've felt these past few years. I can't wait to have enough material to record and share with you all.
Anyways, have you heard of The Staves? Because I'm obsessed (links to listen after the jump...).
It's a Work of Art...
One of the things that fuels my excitement to make music again is the opportunity to inspire another artist's work. Like I said in previous posts, I've filled my music hiatus with dance. I don't think I fully realized the influence music can have until I became brave enough to choreograph and freestyle. Each word, each chord progression affects the choreographer's thought process and the dancer's performance.
Manchester Orchestra | A Black Mile to the Surface
Recently I had the stupidest realization. Like, one of those ideas that hits you so clearly and makes you feel so brilliant, but then you reflect and think, "Well, duh. No shit." It's weird to continue to see people subscribing to my YouTube channel, and becoming a fan on Facebook and SoundCloud. After all, it's been years since I created something new. How could all of you still be finding me?
But then I realized, every piece of music, every video I've created is a permanent piece of the Internet, kind of like a work of art in a museum. Stay with me, I'm about to go on a tangent...
Jank: Music Obsession
I still remember hearing my first Manchester Orchestra song. I was 15 and walking my dog Ruby around my neighborhood. It was hot but the leaves were starting to change. "Colly Strings" was the most contemplative song I had experienced at that point in my life. I've been listening to this song for 10 years and I still find it haunting and beautiful. I'm still in love with the dynamics of the song, and the song still contains one of my all-time favorite lyrics: "don't stop calling / you're the reason I love losing sleep"
Natural Talent is Bullshit
Does teenage angst ever go away? Does "hipster" taste ever dull? Even at 25, I find myself looking for bands no one has ever heard of to have that satisfyingly smug feeling of they were my band, first. Why is that feeling so addictive?
This past summer I found Jank, thanks to my brother. Jank encompasses all of the pouty, miserable hormones I had as a teenager. Now at 25, with a 9-5 and closet full of chinos and blouses, it feels good to tap back into those feelings.
Finding Inspiration (Plus a Playlist)
I've accomplished a lot in the past 5 years. From a musical perspective, I got my music on a national tv show; I played every major venue in Cleveland, and was an opening act for some of my favorite musicians; I built up a small (about 3,000) following of fans online. From a personal perspective, I completed a master's degree in a year; I changed career paths and nearly doubled my salary in 6 months.
I accomplished these goals with sheer stubbornness and hard work. I knew what I wanted and went after it.
Music Obsession: Hop Along
Have you ever experienced that feeling when doing something creative where it's on the tip of your tongue, but you can't express it? It's just sitting there in your head and it won't come out? I've felt like that for, like, two years now. It's the weirdest form of writer's block I've experienced.
Writing music as a teenager felt unbelievably easy for me. I was a hopeless romantic, teenybopper who knew a few chord progressions. At 25, I want something more complicated, more polished. I've put bigger expectations on what I present to the world than when I was a teenager.
Realizing a Purpose
Do you ever listen to your Spotify Discover Weekly playlist? If you aren't familiar, it's a playlist created by an algorithm that matches you with similar songs you listened to throughout the week. Honestly, this playlist is usually absolute garbage for me, but every few weeks I discover a gem.
Link to music inside...
In Defense of the Weekend Rockstar
With 2018 in full bloom, I've been feeling pretty introspective and optimistic... How original. But I've been thinking about how this all began, and where I am now. Music has taken the backseat for the past few years. My acoustic guitar is literally sitting in a closet.
I've been busy, sure. But there was always more to it. Music lost its purpose. What was once a form of expression turned into money and left me wondering, Is this all there is?
There's a feeling out there as a musician, a dancer, a writer that if you are not dedicating your entire life to your art you are not an artist. From 20 to 23, I wanted people to see me as "a real musician." I felt extreme pressure (from myself? From the music community?) to figure out a way to make music a full-time job. I started putting in a lot of effort. Within 3 months, my Facebook fanbase grew from 600-800 to 3,000 people. Within 6 months, my music was featured on national TV. I was offered an exclusive audition with producers of The Voice.
And then I disappeared.