I’ve been a member since February of 2017 - more than two years, now - and I never introduced myself (never posted much either - three posts in 2 years).
I’ve been playing guitar for about 35 years (since I was 12 or 13), and was in a couple bands in my teens and twenties, but gave it up to make software (money) and write books (no money). A little more than a dozen years ago, I started coming back to music, recording my own crap on a Firepod, and I’m still recording my own crap, only now I’m releasing it into the wild.
I stream writing songs on twitch (twitch.tv/fourafterever), and I’ve just started to try to figure out how to make non-bad videos for them. My music sits solidly somewhere between grunge and doom (so I’ve been told). I have, I think, two fans (well, at least two people who seem eager to hear new stuff).
Better late than never, I guess, when it comes to introductions and music…
Welcome (back)! I see on that site you use a Cascade Fathead, just curious about that and how you use it as I have read/heard some good things about them. Also, there was a link on there to your website where there seems to be a blog post (There Will Be New Books) about “writer’s block” or something to that effect (mental bullshit). It also seemed to touch on Imposter Syndrome (we have a thread here about that), though in January you seemed to transcend whatever was holding you back. Anyway, just curious about that as well since that’s something that has plagued me with music at times. One of the things you said was “You have to be able to lose yourself in what you’re doing” which I think is spot on. When other crap is inside your head, ToDo lists, cobwebs , whatever … it’s hard to focus on that nebulous blob tugging from the dark matter of your imagination. You spoke about it like exorcising a demon. I was just curious if you wanted to speak about that as much as you feel able and willing to.
I use the Fathead on one of my guitar amps - a 20 watt head into a 1x12, about 8 inches away, in a closet with a bunch of homemade bass traps (4" OC503) behind, beside, and above it, since there’s another cabinet in that same closet. I love the way it sounds, and I’d buy another if I could afford it. Yeah, they’re only a couple hundred, but my finances have taken a dive, lately.
I’m more than willing to answer questions. It’s a tough set of topics to deal with, and part of the real struggle has been with family members and their thoughts about what I’m doing and how those affect me. I don’t want to get into “who”, but there are people in my life who would prefer that I be more oriented toward just making money, any way, any how, than doing things that “spark joy”, to use a current catch phrase.
So ask away. I read those threads (or most of them), but I think at the time, I wasn’t really ready to talk about those things in public. It’s a new day, however. And while I’m not currently getting the writing done, I’ve produced a song a week for the past month, which isn’t nothing.
I’m actually eager to share. I was going to post one of the new songs in BTR, but discovered the 15 post requirement by reading the rules. I have an EP that’s available pretty much everywhere, but I’ve been told by a friend that my new work is quite a bit different (even thought they’re both loud distorted guitars).
I’ll be posting a video with the first song of the new work on Youtube this Friday.
I just looked and B&H has one for $183 and a matched pair for $400. I guess it’s not as much as I thought they were, but I hadn’t looked in a long time. It looks like they just came out with a “Fathead II” also.
Those are two - almost polar opposite - sides to life, and can certainly cause a conundrum. I can see how that relates to the “lose yourself” philosophy, as it involves freeing the mind of cares and responsibilities in some ways … at least temporarily. One approach, a common sense one, might be to strive for “balance” in life - but that tends to compartmentalize things a bit too much and The Muse may not show up during “scheduled creative time”.
I have studied and tried to practice “The Artists Way” by Julia Cameron for some years. There is some good information and exercises in there, I have been meaning to revisit it. She basically lays out a 12-week/12-step type program she calls “creative recovery”. She talks about how people and relationships, plus our own core beliefs about ourselves, can really mess with the head of the Artist. Her system is about removing the blocks, learning to play, learning to trust (yourself), and a lot of psychological stuff about how to accomplish that. She talks about imposter syndrome too.
Perhaps the ideal thing is to find a way to get paid (and paid well) for the things that spark joy. Easier said than done. But we can look around and see people that do it. Many times they are our idols and role models. Sometimes people get filthy rich by getting lucky and tapping the market in a big way, following their passion (Joseph Campbell said “follow your bliss”). I was looking at this on my “Over a Billion Views” thread regarding Marshmello and other big Pop artists.
Absolutely! So particularly based on that, I guess my question is around this process - if you can describe it - of “exorcising the demon” that is holding you back. First, what are good ways to identify what that block is, from an awareness standpoint? Second, what tools or tactics can help overcome the block (demon) and get into the flow of creating again? Those moments that “spark joy” seem to just come when we’re in some kind of ‘flow’, and we can remember what it felt like, but can’t force ourselves to re-experience it without perhaps a very conscious and focused process.
First off, as a fan of grunge and doom, you may see your fan base grow rapidly to 3!!!
I am also very interested in how you go about twitching your song writing and recording so I’ll be posing a few questions your way shortly.
I literally looked to see who was doing such a thing only a few days ago but found nothing.
Part of the process involved that dreaded word “therapy”. The first thing in learning how to deal with that demon is acknowledging the demon exists and taking responsibility for the fact that you have been feeding that demon quite probably for your entire life. And remember that responsibility is different from blame. Blame is not productive. When you take responsibility for something, then it means that you have the power to change it.
And once you realize that you have the power to change it, because you are responsible, then you can start to take steps toward changing it.
So, in the case of one of my personal blocks (the one described above with the family member who has issues surrounding my choices of what I want to do for a living), I first had to realize that what was happening. First, I was listening to an unproductive opinion. Second, I was internalizing that opinion and placing it ahead of my own needs and desires, even though I didn’t agree with it. Once I realized that I was taking it in, and making it my own, and that I was responsible for that, and I wasn’t responsible for how they felt or thought, I could then start to have control over it and leave their opinion with them, which is where it belonged.
Then, when it comes to creativity, make a regular date with yourself and be there. And if all you do is play an instrument, even if you don’t record it, you’ve still given yourself the opportunity to spark something, even if it doesn’t happen.
I won’t disappear I’ve been lurking for two years, after all.
As for twitch, check out Scene of Action ( http://twitch.tv/sceneofaction ) if you want to see probably the best music channel on twitch. I’m just sort of starting out and getting going. I can answer basics, but there’s a whole universe of possibilities for streaming music there, and I think people are only just starting to figure it out.
Ah yes, seeking approval, conformity, normality, meeting other people’s expectations, etc. And even the inner identity, social identity, that has developed around those things. The “inner critic”, the wounded child, the underdog.
That makes a lot of sense, and on a deep level of introspection. I was struck by Jordan Peterson’s formula of “meaning in life comes from responsibility”. On an existential level, we’re all looking for “meaning” in one way or another, whether we’re conscious of it or not. I believe his premise is that whatever you choose to be responsible for is what creates your meaning in life. So it’s much more than duty and fulfilling obligations … it actually becomes your purpose, which creates your meaning. Basically it’s life itself!
Ha, that’s exactly what Julia Cameron says in Artist’s Way. Her 2 big things are “morning pages” (journaling inner thoughts and feelings), and the “artists date” (a set time but flexible goals). It’s also something Steven Pressfield talks about in The War of Art and some of his other books, in terms of setting the schedule and showing up. He mentions Maya Angelou, who describes how she goes to her little writing studio every work day at 9am, and puts in her time. She says she may write crap for 2 weeks, but one day The Muse shows up and a glorious poem materializes.
Thanks so much for pointing this out. I’ll have to give this one a read. I took quite a psychological beating last year and I’m still trying to get over it. I’ve recently formed a new band (mostly covers with a few originals) with some friends and they’ve really helped boost my confidence (on singing a few of the cover songs) but I still have a way to go. (Apologies for the thread hijack.)
I haven’t heard of Jordan Peterson before, which, after looking him up, is kind of surprising. The real trick is realizing that you do have the choice, no matter how bad things are around you. You have a choice as to how to respond to whatever you face, and as always, not making a choice is a choice. And that’s why taking responsibility gives you so much power. You end up actively making choices, and actively making choices provides a feeling of control, and in that feeling of control, it’s much easier to banish fear for the moments necessary to take action.
Hey, you finally mention a book I’ve read! I’m crap at recalling who said what, and I’m crap at recalling details of books. I usually end up with just a few takeaways, and my takeaway from The War of Art was basically, “You have this thing inside you (resistance) that doesn’t want you to do whatever it is that you want to do, so sit your butt in a chair and do it anyway.” I think Pressfield would agree that one of the primary ways to defeat resistance is to just plant your ass in your workspace and get started on something.
Yes - this. You have to give yourself permission to write crap or paint crap or play crap. In the writing circles I walk in, “Butt in chair” is a common phrase, but so is “Give yourself permission to write crap.” You’re not ever going to write the perfect piece, so why bother worrying about it. It’s better to write something than nothing, because even if it doesn’t turn out how you like, at the very least you’ve learned something, which could be something as small as what you tried that day doesn’t work. But at least you know not to do that particular thing again.
Currently, I’m writing a song a week, on Saturday (finish it up on Sunday if necessary). Writing and recording. If you watch the streams from last Saturday, it seems that I have something to work with right away, but in fact, I was noodling around on my guitar for about an hour before I came up with the bit that I start the stream with. It was about that hour mark that I decided - “well, I don’t know if this is cool or not, or what kind of song will come out of it, but I’ve got to write something, so I’ll use this and see what happens.” And what happens is that just going with something and trusting yourself and your subconscious will, more often than not, lead you to something that is better than you thought it would be. (I think the song came out great, btw )
Sucks that you took a beating, but it’s good to hear that you’re working your way through it. That work will make you stronger in the end (yeah, I know, it sounds like a platitude, but I really believe it). Also sounds like your friends (at least the ones in your band) have your back, which is great.
Some of my friends have been less than supportive (“You’re voice isn’t right for this kind of music.”, “You’ll never be more than a backup singer.”). Those things hurt at the time, and I still dream that they’ll change their minds, but I think, in the end, they helped me in my ability to make art despite what people think. I enjoy it, so why shouldn’t I do it? It took awhile, but I’ve finally found a few new friends who are more supportive. I still worry they think my vocals are shit, but I don’t ask, because in the end, it doesn’t matter. I can hear that I’m getting better, and I’m having fun. That’s what matters.
So to end my hijack of your hijack, and not knowing your exact situation, sounds like you’re in a better place than you were last year, which is the best place to be.
Right, I have always loved that line from the Rush song Freewill: “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”
I believe psychologists call that “locus of control”. The more we feel in control (even if it’s illusory), the more we feel empowered to make choices. Feeling not in control (or believing it to be true) tends to inhibit choices and action.
The fear of failure can certainly lead to “resistance”. Ironically, I think we tend to see failure - or the possibility of failure - as being “not in control”, whereas it’s probably the opposite. There’s even a new business and educational philosophy, as I understand it, called “Intelligent Fast Failure” (IFF); knowing that failure equals learning and is frequently necessary for success, see it as a good and acceptable thing rather a shameful penalty.
Sometimes those critics can lead you to an “I’ll show you!” determination. But it’s easy to feel it as defeating also. The way I see it, when someone is giving you feedback there are two choices: 1) tell you that you can’t do it, you suck, you’re bad/wrong, and try some other way, or 2) “if you want to accomplish this (whatever your stated goal is), maybe you can get there by trying this (a possible solution to the problem).” Number 2 is what I consider “constructive criticism”. It can be helpful to hear what someone honestly thinks of something, as a way to focus on what may need improvement, and them giving suggestions on what that improvement is or how it may come about shows they are advocating for your “highest good” rather than trying to squash your dreams.
Yeah - at first, it can hurt quite a bit as you realize your circle doesn’t have your back, but what really helped me understand what was going on was reading Mindset by Carol Dweck. In it’s explanation of the difference between fixed and growth mindsets, I realized that the people who said those things to me were really stuck in a fixed mindset. You are who you are, and ain’t nothin’ gonna change it. They also have fixed opinions about what certain music should sound like, and what voices go with what styles.
Understanding they had a fixed mindset helped me forgive them and allow them their opinions without having to adopt a “I’ll show you” kind of adversarial relationship.
I think it can be helpful, as long as you know where those opinions are coming from. Are they coming from experience, or are they coming from deep knowledge, or are they coming from jealousy or fear?
Everyone knows what they like in music, but not everyone knows enough to give advice, though they can possibly tell you what they don’t like. As an example, my early vocal attempts were pretty awful, and one person said they didn’t like the sound of my voice, and to be honest, there were lots of things I didn’t like either. But it was amazing what just tuning the vocal did to it. This person couldn’t describe “why” they didn’t like the sound in a way that was useful, so their opinion wasn’t at all helpful.
So I’ve learned to pay attention to where people are coming from, and say “thanks for telling me what you really think” to everyone else. Oh, as another example, Mixerman listened to a couple of my tracks from my previous ep, and he suggested turning the vocal up (thinking, probably, that it was down because I was afraid to turn it up). I turned it up only 1 or 2 db, and then turned it back down. It wasn’t what I was going for. I respect his opinion as a man with deep knowledge of music and the industry and what makes hit songs, etc… But my vocal was where I wanted it, not because I was afraid to turn it up or anything like that, but because I wanted it where it was to achieve an aesthetic effect.
And, with all that said, I’ve learned not to judge as much as I did in my youth (or even five years ago). The worst that I will say about anything artistic (and I mean anything) is that it’s not to my taste. I won’t say a movie is awful, or a book is terrible, or “that guy doesn’t know how to write a song”. I just try to acknowledge what they were trying to do, and say it didn’t work for me.
And that topic is just one of the many things that’s helped me get through the things that were blocking me from. Other people’s opinions are theirs, and they’re valid, and they’re not mine, and I shouldn’t run my life by them. And neither should you