Pushing those around you further.

Today, I had an awesome and very musical day collaborating with a friend of mine and we’ve not only worked together on one but two records this year…his and mine.

And after a good 10 hour session programming synths and exploring sounds I said that I wouldn’t have created these kind of ideas if he wasn’t in the room.

The modern musical adventure normally gives the image of a person working away on their ideas in their bedroom studio on their own.

But often, I get better results through collaboration and conversations with others that critically reflect on the material and make more informed decisions going forward. It’s also more inspiring and fun too.

Music certainly can be enjoyed in solitude, but the value of sharing ideas and bouncing of others should never be underestimated.

Popular doesn’t mean better

The top 50 charts of music today are filled with an endless amount of vapid drek. The music reflects the culture and for the most part, people don’t use music like they did in the 60s and 70s, as a means to find their identity, learn and discover about themselves and see what was going on in the world. Instead, people use music as a means for escapism, or passive noise to drown themselves in sound whilst other media forms have come in to the fray to take up our attention.

It’s a shame in some ways, and I can only see the music business as a race to the bottom. But I remember that that’s the music business and not music.

And I’ve gotten rather resourceful when it comes to finding the music for me. I go out of my way to discover new music I love and my favourite records of the last few years comprise of artists that no else I know directly, knows of.

Caroline Polachek, Arooj Aftab, Julia Holter, Natalie Prass, Steven Wilson, the list goes on. I love the work these people do, and so do a lot of others out there, but they are not popular by any stretch of the mainstream media focus.

But they resonate with a viable audience. And this can happen on an even smaller scale.

There are over 300 million people in America. Target 1% and you still have 3 million. Even 0.001% is a large audience to someone!

Sometimes, it’s easy to obsess over the stats and the numbers but we should never let that supersede the quality of that which we like and admire. And it doesn’t have to be popular for us to like or engage with it.

Anticipatory dread

Alfred Hitchcock once said that it’s not the bang that gets you, it’s the anticipation of it.

When we experience something in the workplace, the process is usually fine and we adapt ourselves in the situation to deal with any challenges.

But if we are preempting the challenges themselves in advance, that can create a lot of anxiety, purely in anticipation of the thing itself.

This can manifest itself physically. For me, it’s a sensation in my chest as if my heart is starting to race. Sometimes this is so influential that it defies any logic your brain is trying to present back to you.

So the solution is to either duck from the challenge, and quite or face it. And normally when I face it, it’s okay.

And with that, we gain more experience and a chance to adapt to challenging situations and deal better with them.

And if that doesn’t change or even gets worse, best to walk away from it.

Avoiding assumptions

As soon as we start to interact with someone new, we can start to make assumptions, including age, orientation or occupation.

Although, not everyone is quite as they seem. People are nuanced and in some ways incredibly interesting and complicated.

People are also sometimes very surprising, in positive ways for sure.

I try my best to keep my sub conscious in check when meeting new people and be as empathetic and open minded as I can.

There’s too much judgement made by people based on their background or things that are merely circumstantial such as where they come from, or what they look like, as opposed to who they actually are.

It’s better to look up to people as opposed to look down on them.

Questions over judgement.

I’ve never really come across a time when calling someone a moron had a benefit going forward.

And as easy as it is to fall into the default of doing that, especially when something as divisive as Brexit is concerned.

There is an issue of misinformation, false sense of truth and assumptions out in the world but that’s always been the case. It’s called gossip, and the advent of the internet has amplified gossip to an enormous extent.

So we live in a world where people convince themselves that what they conclude in their hard is self-ceiling, self fulfilling and an incontrovertible fact when the actuality is that they are probably not and there is more nuance in all things.

So what’s the solution?

Attempting to teach critical thinking is a start, and encouraging everyone of every age to consider nuance and detail in every heated topic and debate.

Secondly, our interactions, especially those online need to be less hostile, and we need to employ empathy and a curious investigation into why people think the way they think.

Thirdly, media outlets and social networks need to regain trust and not allow falsehoods to be spread and advertised so wildly. They fall short of the mark in the meantime and aside building better interactions from the ground up, the facilitators of our online social media need to own up and step up too.

Back on the bike

I’ve spent nearly two weeks dealing with a cold. Conventional viruses decided to come back with a vengeance since more mixing is going on, and I really suffered for it, as is a lot of people I know.

And what didn’t help was that I was rather heavily scheduled with teaching, sessions and meetings and I felt debilitated throughout the entire thing.

I then felt burnt out, because I was trying to push myself when I was feeling rough, and mentally, I was seeing everything through a much more negative lens.

So this weekend, I took a step back (not to be mistaken with admit defeat) and spent time with family, focusing on other things, namely enjoying myself and today I finally felt fit enough to get back on the bike, which always does me good.

I’m a sucker for falling into the trap of trying to continue working when mentally and physically I need rest and leisure.

And this post, serves as a reminder to myself take the time out when I need it, and for anyone else reading this that needs it too.

Finding the sweet spot.

If you’re cooking a recipe. You need just the right amount of ingredients. Too much of one thing can upset the balance of the whole.

Very often, when we our creating art, the temptation is to fall into the trap of adding layers and layers without letting the work we do breathe. Or on the contrary, we do too little and then don’t consider the levels of detail we can add to bring a level of sophistication to our work.

Depending on the intent, finding the sweet spot matters. Adding harmony shouldn’t be just done because it can be done. It should be done because it feels right to do so.

Stepping away

It’s hard to know when to do this.

If you’re finding it difficult to make decisions, it’s probably the right time. If you can’t see woods for trees and your thought patterns shift towards negativity in the creative process, sometimes the most advisable thing you can do is take a step back to allow yourself to breathe, and come back to it with a fresher perspective.

We can be desperate and full of desire to see things through, but sometimes this requires us letting those things breathe before we go through the final steps to ensure our work is done.

Art isn’t a luxury

But that’s how the government treats it.

The posters of Fatima still remain a coarse image of the undervalued perception that the Tories have of Ballet dancers, and musicians and all creators.

Art is essential. If you’re looking to contradict that, then ask yourself if you’ve managed a day without visualising something that is artistic let alone spending your time engaging with it. It’s what we do to understand things better, ourselves and the world around us.

And when art is marginalised in education, the wider society suffers for it.

All children and young people should be able to engage and pursue their art further and be given the opportunity to do so with support and a sense of serious ambition.

Unfortunately, I fear that many people continue to be squeezed out because of their lack of money or privilege.

Music, I always hold dear to my heart, and for all the ambitions I hold personally, I know how powerful music can be socially and within community.

Art is much more than a luxury, it’s at the essence of life itself.

And those in power should give opportunities for art, not take them away.

At the Deep End

Recently, I’ve doing some teaching to age groups I had never dealt with before. Both younger years and older years.

At times, it has been an initial sense of dread at the prospect of dealing with a situation I’m not used to. What tone do I use? How do I approach the lesson to get the best approach.

What has occurred is the realisation that I’m adapting and learning in these new environments myself and it’s a privilege to see a wider scope, and that is how learning takes place across a wider range and context and in doing so, helps me appreciate and connect everything with that bit more clarity.

Sometimes, the deep end is really uncomfortable, but the reward of learning new things means it’s worth that temporary discomfort.