And, Five Years From Now, What?
The Looking Back Thing Earlier this week I posted two, somewhat lament filled posts, looking back over the last five years of this blog. I had another post drafted up, that made for equally depressing reading. I not to post that one. Enough with the negativity. As I look back over the last five years […]
The Looking Back Thing
Earlier this week I posted two, somewhat lament filled posts, looking back over the last five years of this blog. I had another post drafted up, that made for equally depressing reading. I not to post that one. Enough with the negativity.
As I look back over the last five years of my life, as opposed to the last five years of blogging, it’s been a fairly extraordinary time. I’ve lived in China and India, not only the two largest countries in the world, but also two dynamic powerhouses that are coming into their own on the global stage. I’ve had the chance to travel, first from Delhi, then Hong Kong, to some great cities, in particular – Chiang Mai, Copenhagen, Dubai, HaNoi, LiJiang, London, Paris, Sydney, Tokyo and Washington. I’ve completed the transition from being an academic, back to being a full-time musician (soon to complete my third certificate with BerkleeMusic). In this time I’ve taken close to 15,000 photos and started to learn to craft meaningful images. My best estimate is that I’ve watched just under 800 feature films and made around a 1000 home cooked meals, most of them completely from scratch.
It’s been a remarkable period of transformation. The quality and texture of my life is very different now to what it was five years ago (when life felt very out of control). If I draw the line out further, ten years back, when I was fast settling into life in London, then the changes seem even more radical.
All of which makes me cautious about speculating about the next five years. The truth is, I don’t know what city, country, or continent I will live in, five years from now. However, I can think a little more clearly about what I plan to do over the next months and how I hope that will influence the coming years.
Evil Plans And Portable Studios
From now till Christmas, my days are pretty well mapped out. I’m taking photos 4-5 times and week and trying to record on most days as I finish my album and complete two final Berklee guitar courses. In fact, completion is my mantra.
But, next year poses some challenges that have been looming for some time. In order to move forward, I need to consolidate what I’ve been doing over the past few years. Not just studying, recording, writing and arranging, but also designing and building equipment. I don’t like talking about brands, but I do need some sort of identity for this business I’m in.
And, I need it to be portable.
Which is an interesting thing, because we don’t tend to think of studios as portable. But, the new musical reality makes that possible. My goal is to build a global collaborative studio environment, where I can work with people I like across geographies. In a way that already happens – I record guitars for a friend in the US, or book a session from an other friend in Australia, or pen arrangements for a friend in the UK.
That’s part of why I find Hugh Macleod’s Evil Plans Manifesto so inspiring. I’m right in the middle of that space now. This consolidation I’m facing next year is not about selling a product or service. It’s not about branding or marketing. It’s about explaining who I’ve become and why I might just be an interesting person to work with.
It’s about telling a good, compelling and truthful story.
Freemixing And Other Crazy Ideas
Consolidation is only part of the picture. I’m also thinking a lot about momentum. Not so much the work I want to do, but how I want to work.
See, after the first couple of months of 2010 are finished, I will have pretty much achieved what I set out to do back in 2004. So, I’m looking to challenge myself a little, to put myself in some uncomfortable positions. I want to explore the edges of my creativity again.
I’m thinking crazy thoughts, not just playing live, but taking on a new guerilla recording project. Who knows, I might even give some guitar lessons. I’m also toying (very seriously), with a limited, monthly, freemixing project – a small number of free remixes for artists who, well, turn me on but might not have been able to afford to book a remix of that kind.
The last one might even sound like exactly the thing I shouldn’t be doing. After all, it’s just so amateur. Well, maybe. But, in my experience so many of the good things I’ve done in my life grew out of acts of hospitality; of gifts, really. Gifts are like mini-revolutions. They can break existing patterns, change relationships and can even redefine what we think is possible.
There are other crazy ideas floating around, some related to photography, for example. But, as I write, they are just too insane to print.
It’s About Being Good, Not Being A Star
All of this crazyness is not random. There are some goals at work. Actually, they are not so much goals as understandings, about myself, about music and art and also about human interaction in this age of globalisation and digital media. It’s not about vision, it’s about memory.
I was a pretty typical teenager in a lot of ways. But, I had a passion for playing guitar and recording. I was still in my teens when I played my first gigs, undertook my first refret on a guitar (even wrote to luthiers seeking an apprenticeship), messed around with music electronics and made my first recordings. I couldn’t afford a multitrack back then, so I would record to one stereo tape deck, then run that through a mixer with the next input into another tape deck. The speeds were not sync’d, so I would have to re-tune guitars after every take.
There’s no real regrets when I look back on the detours I took between then and now. We all find our voice in different ways and for some it comes earlier than others. For me, I’m just thankful to be in the space I’m in right now and to be looking forward with hope.
I might not know where I will be in five years. But, I have a feeling about “how” I will be and that is a new and exciting feeling.