Sorry this blog has been sparse (so far) this year. No excuses, I haven’t found reasons to write moving forward into 2009 and I’m confused about what to do and where to go next.
I started handing in my pile of new song demos. They vary between loud, quiet and odd/groovy in between. I like them all (or they wouldn’t get beyond my MacBook) and I’m extremely proud of a few of them, although the trademark ‘sound’ of Garageband is all over them, which I hope everyone relevent can “hear through”.
Left behind for now are what I’ve mostly been composing but isn’t useful or appropriate: nasty electro ideas waiting for a structure and improvised Keith Jarrett-style romantic jazz(-ish) piano. So you can tell, I’m all over the place creatively. In fact, I’ll probably hand in some of the piano impro demos at the end, and pitch that we accompany the next album with a second disc of that stuff, taped at the same time as recording the album. Would be ace fun, cheap to make and probably a strong extra record.
A funny thing with demos: I’m sure most people have the song completely written and it’s just the recording / performances that are ‘demo standard’. For me, the song itself is still at a demo stage, so incomplete or a work-in-progress. In particular, lyrics aren’t done. Jon Clayton will tell you (probably through gritted teeth), I’ve literally had to redo vocals at the final mix stage, when I’ve found a tweak in the lyrics that’s too important not to include.
Ach, I’m talking about process. See below.
So here’s a million dollar question which I always resist asking… Do you prefer Chris T-T music loud or quiet? solo acoustic, full band or somewhere in between? or is it more an issue of content… Should I be writing more psychedelic nature / animal / love songs or keep up the commie shit?
comments more than welcome, obviously, or I wouldn’t be asking
I know what some of my closer friends and family think but never really know what the record-buying, gig-going ‘fans’ prefer, or whether the split (if there is one) is even.
Of all the things spoiling culture at the moment, I’m starting to pinpoint the worst as what I’ll call The Myth Of Process. This is the shift by which everyone thinks they know how it’s done, even though they don’t really. It’s the real damage inside the reality TV talent show movement but can equally be found in every area of culture and in the instant communication of those making culture. Interactive shows, Twitter, blogging or posting demos on Myspace are just as much a part of this as any celeb gossip columnist.
No (or very, very rare) communication between an artist and audience (or potential audience) is entirely truthful, simply because the artist wants the audience to increase. So as we increase the amount, intimacy (hey @wossy or @schofe on Twitter) and regularity of that communication, what we’re actually doing is increasing the spin / lying.
Even at my level, I’m mythmaking / spinning. I’m not going to tell you which artists I hate that I’m friends with because it’ll stuff my friendship with them (or worse, lose me professional opportunities ;p)
So the audience now almost always think they know how it’s done and, alongside this, becomes obsessed with the process itself, rather than the product. At the same time, us artists fall for the same myth.
When musicians hang out, why don’t we talk about making music anymore? A few years ago, we’d sit around yacking about guitar pedals, snare drum compression, which towns had the best audiences. Now, to a much greater extent, we all yack distribution demographic this, PR that, business shit all around their mouths.
I’m guilty totally myself and, in a sense, have always been one of the worst offenders: a keen music industry gossip and process-hound, disguising myself as an aloof ‘pure’ music maker. But I don’t get it: do we now actually enjoy the business more than the music? Sounds bonkers but feels increasingly, heartbreakingly true.
I love the visual arts because I don’t know how they manage it. The mystery is still intact. When I hear a pop hit, I am aware that what I’m loving about the first 30 seconds is primarily a snare drum sound and a bunch of reverbs – and can make informed assumptions about how they achieved those. But with a brilliant classic painting, I have no idea where to begin with process – and don’t want to.
And that’s what we need to recapture, somehow. But talking about it – and especially asking your opinion – contributes to the opposite. Doh.