So my internet's down at home and all of a sudden life gets about five times more complicated. Emails don't get received or sent. Artists don't get their mixes. YouTube sees a sudden unexpected dip in its views...
Actually, it doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things at all. But it does mean that you, dear reader(s), have been denied your daily doses of my wit, wisdom and whimsical meanderings. For that, and everything else, I humbly apologise.
So in the vague hope my iPad comes into the realm of a free wifi zone before my landline is resurrected, here's a collosally witty, wise and whimsically meandering update on what has been big in Hi-Sonorous land in 2013 so far.
Alun Leppitt's record is big. And great...5 tracks of beautiful, vital, epic, worshipful rock. I'm really proud of it and, happily, it's going to be available sooner than you might think. A loose deadline of the end of the month is looking possible. Tom Gregory (drummer extraordinaire for Mr Tommy Eye and good friend of Alun's) joined us at the studio for a great percussion session which culminated in him laying down some parts played on the side of chair and the top of a music stand. And the best part of this is they're not even gimmicks we'll push to the back of the mix on second thoughts. The EP also has a really good name and LOADS of cool sounding guitars. I guess it's not hard to understand why I'm so into it!
Byron Gold is very soon to announce big news on a brand new release. I don't think I'm allowed to give anything more away yet but it's the track we've been waiting to write for Byron for about two and a half years and it's basically a stonker and Sanj and I are both well pumped about the news. Expect clips, vids, facebook spam and general twitter hype madness within the month!
Our tax returns got filed. OK this isn't news. But how else do you account for my chipper and lackadaisical tone?
I set my guitar up in stereo and jammed on my looper for two hours in Wednesday morning. This isn't really news either, apart from the fact it may well have spawned the basis of an amazing idea we've come up with a remix for Byron's single but haven't yet had a chance to work through properly. The remix involves an incredibly cool patch we made up on the MPC where we sample spliced one of the hooks from the tune and built a beat out of the various ensuing vocal samples. Great fun to play with and prime remix material. We even shoehorned a tiny element into the single mix!
Anyway, before I get down to how many socks I've washed so far in 2013, let me get onto the subject of my blog...success.
Am I alone in thinking that the creative industries have much less definable measures of success than some? If you're a doctor and you correctly identify their illness, prescribe the right drug or treatment and they get better, job done, no? If you're a lawyer defending someone who's innocent and you argue their case well and the jury returns the correct verdict, again, good job. OK, so I'm sure GPs and barristers the world over will be writing in in uproar at my crass oversimplification of their roles, but compare it to the creative equivalents...
I'm a web developer who gets hired to build a website for a company. At the end of the design process the site looks great, functions well and you get your cheque for a job well done. But the site's far from being a success at this point. It has to get seen by search engines, it has to build awareness, it has to attract customers, it has to sell a message. Ultimately, it has to make money for the company. As a designer, you won't probably stick around to know if any of these things happen.
Take another example even closer to our patch...making records. Any contemporary artist who's made an album will tell you the same story...albums are a songwriter's symphony; their film or novel. They are the final and most eloquent medium of expression for the contemporary musician, where the weeds are mercilessly picked, where every microscopic detail is analysed and questioned and reasoned into existing. Great albums are given everything by the artist to be what they are. But, as an artist you don't ever really know the impact your music has on the people who receive it. You don't even really know the impact for the people who love it, who go crazy for it. You speak clearly, precisely, but what you get back isn't an equivalent response. It's either an inarticulate and meaningless jumble of superlatives - "it's so amazing, you're so great, I love you", or more in my case a deafening silence.
Some will say don't be so vain. Do it for the art. Do it for fun.
But making music as an end in itself has never really been it for me. I've always had this daring dream that music can change people. That it can be about people, rather than about 'art'. Or at least that art is helpful and good when it's concerned with people and not just itself.
But this is a really hard dream to hold on to because it's nigh impossible to know when you've done anything worthwhile and even when you have, it's an incredibly expandable vision - there's always this desire to reach more people and have things on a bigger scale.
I've seen that time and again even bands who've had all the success in the world still want to be number one again. 'You're only as good as your last single'. Success is pretty insatiable when you're chasing that version of it.
And in the main I'd say I don't need all the success in the world. And by my own logic it seems it would be folly to desire even an ounce of all the success in the world because it would never be enough.
So where does that leave me then? How do I reconcile the ambition I have for what I do with the knowledge that success won't ever satisfy?
I guess the best answer I have for you now is to try and make all the music making about people. To make it about having good relationships, building people up, having integrity, being honest, being positive, being an example etc etc. I think even a little bit of this can make you feel really good about what you're doing and become a really positive way to channel all the ambition.