I was providing my thoughts and feedback on a composition earlier today that had been sent to me by a young, up and coming music producer. Halfway through speaking it suddenly dawned on me that I repeat myself a lot between different feedback sessions with various artists. Why was this I thought? Was I being lazy and not coming up with original, personalised advice for the particular project? Had I gotten into the habit of giving the information I believed the producers wanted to hear? Or was it because of all artists, no matter what experience level, struggle with the same fundamental tendencies at some point during their journey?
I believe it to be the later.
I came across a quote in Julia Cameron’s ‘Morning Pages’ journal recently that I thought summed up the process quite well:
“Making a piece of art may feel a lot like telling a family secret.”
The piece of advice I found myself repeating was to do with there being a disconnect between an artist and their work. In music production, this is similar to something producers commonly refer to as ‘finding your sound’. I say similar, as I believe the former is about finding your voice and the later comes from your unique vantage point as a human being. How else could you explain sampling? In where an artist takes an already existing piece of music and turns it into something completely unrecognisable.
I’m too young and inexperienced to give my advice on how to fix this disconnect between one and ones work. Truthfully, I don’t know the answer. I don’t believe it to be a one size fits all equation, it’s a personal journey that we each have to discover through the act of continuous creation.
What I can share with you is two of my favourite quotes that have helped me on my journey. The first comes from Steven Pressfield’s book ‘The War of Art’.
“We’re not born with unlimited choices. We can’t be anything we want to be. We come into this world with a specific, personal destiny. We have a job to do, a calling to enact, a self to become. We are who we are from the cradle, and we’re stuck with it. Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.”
The next comes from Tim Ferriss’s book ‘Tools of Titans’.
“The superheroes you have in your mind (idols, icons, titans, billionaires, etc.) are nearly all walking flaws who’ve maximised 1 or 2 strengths. Humans are imperfect creatures. You don’t “succeed” because you have no weakness; you succeed because you find your unique strengths and focus on developing habits around them. Everyone struggles. Take solace in that.”