Monday, December 7, 2009


Being sick sucks. It bores me, on so many levels, except for it's one major drawcard...the only thing it has going for it....reflection.

When i'm sick, i think about things in a very different way. I consider what i'd REALLY like to be doing, and ask myself questions about what i AM doing. I take time out, doing nothing but nothing, which gives my head some free-thinking time. I imagine a myriad of possibilities, reflect on things i possibily hadn't thought of since the last time i was sick. I value simple things in new ways, and perceive the mundane in a new light.

I've always got momentum, always doing something, brainstorming, planning, making, trying...but when i'm sick, much of that stops. I'm a totally different me. I stand still. i wait. i stall for time. i stare. i simply stop. And sometimes, something wonderful appears...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Different and The Same

I had some feedback from a customer today, who bought 4 CDs, then followed it up with the Feather's Breath CD. Their comment was "the music is all the same music on all the CDs". Well, of course that's not true. Sure, like most artists, i don't deny that much of my music has my trademark sound. But Feather's Breath in itself has no electronic sounds on it AT ALL, is all voice and flutes, and is quite a diversion from my other recordings. But i got to thinking, maybe they're right. Maybe all of my music is the same.

I don't think that's a bad thing. In fact, i have also been critisised by some fans who dislike anything which isn't like my first release, the "Coral sea Dreaming" soundtrack. So what can i do with all of this feedback? I know you can't please all of the people all of the time, and there's always going to be someone who has a strong opinion on which music is better than another, but where do i file this in my head?

The fact is, i really have very little choice in what comes out of me. Yeah, i might start off with some kind of concept, or an idea, but when it comes to the guts of creating music, it all just evolves out of where i'm at at the time. Sometimes that's in familiar territory, sometimes in unchartered waters, but it all has one thing in comes from me.

I was looking at an older painting done by the very talented artist Karin Taylor this morning, and i knew it was hers just by looking at it. It's very different from her current work, some 8 years later, but there's a familiarity about it that i recognise. I'm sure i could analyse it to find the elements that make it familiar, but it comes from her, so it is a part of her. In fact i'm glad there is a familiarity to it. It made me immediately warm to the painting, because i enjoy her work.

So, I'm comfortable for some people to find my music similar, and happy also for other people to find my music somewhat eclectic. It's going to be very interesting to hear what others have to say when i begin releasing music in completely different genres. I'm sure, like anything, there will be those who'll be very supportive, and those who'll be critical, but one thing is for sure. It's all a part of who I am, and what i create.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Messy Messy World

I create mess.
In fact, it's possible the biggest talent i have. That's how good i am at it.
I don't like mess. I don't like living with it, seeing it, or negotiating my way around it, but i'm surrounded by it.

I leave stuff lying around to remind me to do stuff. I leave countless things on my desk, on the floor, in piles, on boxes, in doorways, on benches... each of which is a reminder to attend to something. The problem is that after a while, i just look over it, and dont attend to many of those things at all. Then i get sick of the mess.

I'm also a bit of a hoarder. I hang on to things for many reasons, just like my mother. You see, it might be useful one day, it would be a shame to just throw it away...what a waste. The kids might use that. I'm going to fix that thingamebob one day, and that'll be just the thing. This is encouraged by my strong concerns for the environment, and being mindful of waste. BUT it adds to my mess.

I figure what i really need is a really big white board and keep lists instead of stuff on my desks and benchspaces. I also need some super storage, where i can sort my stuff into some kind of system, and not boxes.

Don't get me wrong. I do have some kind of order, of sorts. All my fabric lives in a fabric cupboard now, and whilst my office and stock room are in the same space, i have no choice but to have SOME kind of order. And i like tidy and neat. When i clean up the space, it begins to feel sacred. It feels new and uncluttered, which makes my head feel fresh. I even have new thoughts, to go with the new space.

Living in a house the size of a shoe box has been challenging, so i'm curious as to how my habits will change when i have space in the near future. But in the meantime, i really do need to make the most of what i have, clean up, and turn my mess into open spaces, where my creativity can be let loose without clambering into a teetering stack of boxes

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Artists Boxed

I was interviewed today in a government artist survey.
As i have come to be accustomed to, i didn't quite fit into their boxes. The questions weren't adequate in their scope, and so i found myself and the interviewer (who, luckily for me, had some experience in understanding the music business) squeezing my work, my art, and myself into the various boxes of the questionaire.

It did get me thinking, though. It got me thinking about where i've come from, how i got here, and how hard i've worked to create my career. I thought about the choices i've made personally to fullfill a desire to persure my goals and my creations. i don't consider that i've made persoanl sacrifices, because i've always prefered to be poor and happy working on my projects than finacially seccure and hating my job. But i realise that i have made personal sacrifices, even though i kept a smile on my face.

Artists get used to not fitting in. We generally don't fit in to the usual boxes, and our works are often overlooked as being indulgent or unnecessary. Yet any historian will tell you that it's the art of all cultures that truly reflects society. Art, in all it's forms, brings people together. It's the music we listen to, the stuff we watch on television,  the shape of  your coffee mug and the design on your tshirt...everything that came from an idea is a part of the creative stream of our time. Art is an integrated medium, whether we want to believe it on not.

So next time you see that small scultpure hanging on the wall of your local cafe, bear in mind that the next inventer to see that could be sparked to create something that future generations can't do without in their day-to-day lives. That CD that you're listening to, might create a fashion revolution, inspiring a designer to draw to the music, and create something extraordinary, and that photograph in that magazine, could invoke a new way , a better way of dealing with climate change.

So, whilst we will never fit into any of the obvious boxes, consider us an all-inclusive package, right where your sitting, right now.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Make more stuff

I wish i would draw more.
I love to draw. I drew a lot as a kid. But i rarely do it now. I know other people who draw all the time, and they inspire me to draw more. But i've let it go. Now, i need to schedule in drawing time to my week. That's ok. It's better than not drawing at all. And when my kids first saw me draw, they were flabbergasted, immediately gathering paper and pencils to share the experience. Now, i WILL draw more.

I want to sew more. Sewing frustrates me, because i don't like following the rules. My mother used to sew a LOT. She is an awesome seamstress, probably because she had to make all of her clothes when she was a kid. But she follows the rules. She's pedantic and finicky with it. I'm haphazard, and go off on tangents. But i want to find a place in my life for sewing. She taught me how to sew. I don't want to loose anything she's taught me. Sewing is beautiful.

I've never had my own garden, one that i totally own. But soon i will. I want to fill it with plants that provide something, that contribute. Food, medicine, shelter....a plant for a purpose. But i want them to eventually be self-sufficient, surviving and contributing simply because they exist. I look forward to my garden.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Artistic Solar System

The world of creativity isn’t limited to one artform or another. It’s a rich reality of possibilities, and the artist is at the centre of this giant universe, like the sun in a solar system. Sometimes this reality seems still, dark, and unending, but swiftly it can change, errupting into a passionate outburst of color and shape, momentum and life. this is the place where the artist resides, where anything is possible, and silence is merely the calm before the storm

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What is Success?

The topic of success comes up time and again for artists. Everyone seems to have an opinion as to how successful you are, which things are more successful than others, and how much success is enough. But what is SUCCESS? Is it merely the freedom to allow yourself to practice your art?

I think we all agree that there are several sides to being successful. The public side (which doesn't reflect how clever, talented, or wonderful you are) is about media accolades more than anything else, at least in our contemporary world. It's about being popular more than anything, and to some, being popular and well-known is a form of success. People who are not artists often view this as a fundamental perception of success. If you make it to a prime time TV show, you finally have success. For an artists, it can be frustrating for Auntie Flo to belittle your work because you "haven't been on TV yet, not like so-and-so". It's important to keep in mind that being famous isn't being successful, and though many people believe otherwise, this is just a marketing and media ploy to manipulate the public to only take seriously what they control.

Let's take it back a bit and get a bit more personal with the artist. Sometimes works take months, even years to complete. Heart and soul, sweat and tears can be poured into a work of art, often in an isolated environment, where there is a whole introspective monologue going on inside the artists head. The fact that one can complete an artwork is a HUGE success. With so much complexity the artist has in their lives, it's an extraordinary thing, which deserves every accolade.

Making something public can be difficult, but many artists eventually find a way, and the stage is set for a "successful" public perusal, which often includes critiques or reviews of ones work. A bad review? A scathing attack? Do these quash success? No. Let me tell you something about critics and reviewers; they embellish, they create their own story, they are nothing more than a member of the public with a single personal opinion which they must justify in order to satisfy their own audience. A review is rarely about the art, but unfortunately often about the art critic, more's the pity.

What about money? Well, financial success is more about business than art. It really doesn't reflect whether or not something is successful. It's about finding a paying public in a small niche' market. It's about running a business effectively where your customer comes first, providing art specifically for them, and constantly evaluating supply and demand. Sure, an artist can make a squillion dollars, but it doesn't make them successful artists. They have just run or had access to a successful business.

So what is success? Success is really in the eyes of the beholder. If i've managed to get through some of my tasks for the day, i consider i've had a successful day. If i've sold 1 or 10 or even 100 CDs in a day, i consider it a successful day. If i have written a snippet of a new piece of music, had an inspiring thought, made a decision, done a good deed for the day, my day has been a success. I consider myself a successful person, not because i've been on prime time TV, or had great reviews, or sell my works, but because i live a successful life. Isn't that real success?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Scavenger

Creative people are scavengers.
They're always on the lookout for something to take away with them. Sometimes it's tangible, sometimes not, but always it's real.
That view.
The sound.
Those expressions.
The mood.
An idea.
The feeling.
That concept.
Those things.

The Scavenger soaks everything up, taking notes...
Scratching below the surface to find something hidden, in conversations or behind gazes, turning what others cast aside into intricate tapestries, exploring strange worlds of the unspoken.

Sometimes it's the thrill of the chase.
Sometimes it's like diving in the ocean.
It's unknown territory.
It links beyond the dry facade of life's daily grind, into the sweetness of the depths of humanity.
It's unspoilt.
Calling out from beneath layers of time.

It's bitterness and succulence.
Pain and immortality.

The hunt.
The capture.
And then.....setting it free

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Space...the final frontier

(Yes, i know it's a lame title)

Creative spaces are very important to the creative mind. They provide a sanctuary and are usually places of activity. Sometimes they appear pristine and ordered, but more than likely they appear to be jumbled heaps upon jumbled heaps, with seemingly no order.

So what is a creative space? what's it all about?

The room/studio/corner/insert-your-own word-for-it-here is probably the single most important place on earth for the creative heart. It is as much a birthing room as a work space, and demands the same respect. A pile of "stuff" may in fact be a list of priorities, or reminders, like a 3-dimensional white board. It can represent a thought flow, one which is at the brink of creating a new masterpiece. To you it may have no logic, but to the artist it may be their link to their inspiration.

Whatever you do, NEVER clean up a creative space that's not your own unless you have been given permission to do so!

It's not an easy thing for most creative minds to simply flick from one head-space to the next, though many do out of necessity. If it's at all possible, a studio space is best if that's all it is. A small corner of the living room just doesn't bring out the best in an artist, though it may well be of good intention.

Creative spaces are sacred spaces. Here, things are conceived of and born. Here the mind and the heart can meld and ideas can evolve over time. Here is where chapters are explored, lived, manipulated, and developed. It can often be the only place on earth where an artistic person feels safe, at-peace, and free.

Feeling safe is a really important thing, and is often underestimated.
Sometimes a lot of emotion comes out of a person when they are birthing a new idea. Frustrations can overflow, or sometimes the process itself needs to be an angry one to achieve the desired effect, like the painter wildly throwing paint at a canvass. Musicians sometimes cry helplessly when the muse strikes, and writers often need to become their characters to write from a sense of truth. The creative space is a temple of humanity, where life can explode, crumple, run, or die, in a kaleidoscope of temporary madness. It may not always be visible, but the process of creativity can be as large as a universe outside of the tangible reality.

The creative space is a frontier. It's a place where new things are explored and devoured, nurtured and dismissed. It's a powerful force, and one of the most important tools a creative mind will ever have.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Cloisterers & Loiterers

You've seen them...
They're the ones sitting there in the corner on their own, at the pub, and the cafe', at your regular haunt. Almost always alone...thinking, watching (but not too obviously). If you sit close enough you can almost hear the cogs turning in their heads. Silent observers.

They might be a writer, perhaps an artist, possibly someone who seeks out the experience without participating in one. They are the Loiterers, an unassuming yet often misunderstood breed of creatives, who can easily spend countless hours in these places. Occasionally they'll find themselves so engrossed in a scenario that they'll laugh out loud, but rarely would they accept an offer to join you. The Loiterers are immersing themselves in reality, not participating in it.

Then, they pack up their notepads and memories, and go back to their world, perhaps to include their observations in their art, perhaps to ponder, and possibly to dream.

You don't really know the Cloisterers.
They usually only spend fleeting moments in public. Their world lies in their own sacred space, carefully crafted out of ordered chaos, or fanatical displays. Though they love to be invited, they'll rarely play, but if you're lucky enough to be a part of a small list of trusted people, you will have a friend for life.

Shutting out the world means there is plenty of room for a new one to emerge. A world full of complexity and creative reasoning. The Cloisterer lives in the world they have created for themselves, one that is safe enough for ideas to evolve and delicate works to be created. Their world is one full of dreams and aspirations, where the demons of the creative minds can be kept in check, and where the ebb and flow of the emotional tides can freely be navigated without justification or excuse.

Both the Cloisterer and the Loiterer dwell within each creative mind, sometimes simultaneously. They may at times be hidden by a layer of bravado or an extroverted or friendly personality, but they are there, underneath the surface. And sometimes a creative mind needs to sink into their shadow and explore them, though melancholic in their appearance.

The Cloisterer and the Loiterer are here to stay...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My Work, My Nakendness

Songwriters sometimes describe performing their songs on stage as akin to standing in front of a crowd, stark naked. When you've created something it can be like you're revealing yourself, exposing all your vulnerabilities, all your weaknesses, your secret desires, and your pain.

Sometimes this is because it's out of those things that our art is created. There are times when our pain gives birth to inspiration, or our vulnerability makes way for an expression of inner strength. But there is also the secrets, the stuff that is unconscious. The knowledge that someone might interpret our work and expose something we didn't even know about ourselves. Like the painter who creates random abstract paintings, only to discover that viewers see more than was intended.

The fear of revealing oneself is something the creative mind deals with every time they show their work to a friend, a family member, or an audience. In fact, the fear of one can far outweigh the fear of the many. I remember feeling extremely uncomfortable with revealing my music to my family more than to a venue full of people. And the individuals i chose to show my works to were selected not only with great deliberation, but also via their placement in time. Sometimes there would be only a window of a couple of days where i was willing to share, and if the right person wasn't around to listen...

But it's not just the uncomfortableness of oneself. Creative people are often extremely sensitive to the feelings of others. So imagine sharing something with someone, but not wanting to put them on the spot in any way that would make them awkward to offer any kind of feedback. This is something often overlooked. Artists generally want honesty. Of course they don't want to be hurt, but they don't want to hear Uncle John say "hey, i like that" just because he might feel he's expected to say that. They don't want pandering, though they do want encouragement. It can get complicated.

My mother is my biggest critic. I know that she loves that i write music, but she is careful not to show too much enthusiasm. This i sometimes interpret as indifference, which i used to find very challenging. She is honest with her own taste in music, telling me in no uncertain terms when she can't stand to listen to one of my pieces, or when it's "alright, i guess". It's complicated because she is my mother, and i want her to show a mountain of pride, and lashings of support, but i admire her honesty. She will tell me straight out that the CD artwork is completely the wrong colour for the music and that she finds a sound irritating, but i lean on the knowledge that she is trying to be helpful and truthful, and not mollycoddle me, and as such i only show her pieces that are near completion. Because i know that the complicatedness of our relationship will become too great an influence, and i would find myself changing things to suit her and not myself.

Art is from the heart, whether it's an awareness or a subconscious influence. It's endless possibilities make it a difficult birth process at times. Revealing oneself confidently, warts and all, doesn't come with the job. It's because of our vulnerability that we can create, so to reveal ourselves takes practice, patience, and a lot of gritting of teeth. It's a skill that must be learnt, like on-the-job-training. It's the hardest thing, yet is imperative if we are to share our talents. It's bracing for impact, crumpling in an emotional heap, lashing out with bitterness and anger, cowering with angst and uncertainly, putting on armour and challenging any opponent. It's all of this and more.

We are what we are, and we do what we do. We're not really eccentric. Just creative minds, with a need to explore.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Creator vs Saboteur

Ahhh, self sabotage. Anyone who writes music, makes art, choreographs, writes, or does anything else creative knows how closely just that term hits home. Living within each one of us lurks the Saboteur, like a devil on our shoulder. Even when things seems to be going well, we can feel it hiding in the shadows, like a grim reaper awaiting it's victim. It stalks us...patiently...waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike us down, with lethal blows.

The Saboteur prays on our weaknesses, our doubts, our holes. It puts us on the defensive, where we feel we have to justify our place in the world, our community, our home, and even ourselves. And being a saboteur of the self, it remains hidden from view from all those around us. Only we are aware of it's presence, only we can hear it's taunts. It lives with us as we work, and we can hear it panning schemes of our undoing.

But people around us can see it's handiwork. i can see that you are your own undoing. I can see that the only thing stopping you is yourself. I can see that you're making excuses, finding reasons why NOT to do, and making assumptions based on fear. But live WITHIN the world of the Saboteur. To you it's not that simple, because it haunts you every day, each time you question anything. For you, it's not as simple as being afraid people wont like your runs much deeper than that. For you, it's layers and layers of torment, complication, and desperation, daily guilt, remorse, isolation, and regret. For you it's not as easy to just get on with it, get over it, and turn a new page. For you, it's the thorn in your side that never ceases.

But the Saboteur keeps you in check. It keeps the fight alive. Makes you work harder. To see the light you have to place it in the dark. It's voice, though haunting, can drive you to prove it wrong. You work is better because of it's unending presence. You scoff at it, laugh it down, drive over it with a lawnmower...mock it until it becomes little more than a shade of grey. It feeds you to do better, fly higher, create greater.

Self Sabotage will always be a part of artistic life. The trick is to use it's presence to empower yourself and your work. It is merely the yang to your yin, the night to your day. So long as you strive for balance, your never need to fear it's influence.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Creative Addiction

Having a creative mind is like having an addiction. Don’t misunderstand me. It doesn’t necessarily result in copious amounts of artistic output, as many of you know. In fact it often leads to the flip side of the coin, constantly stalling or putting off the next step or stage, escapism, or distraction. Why? Because having a creative mind means we have this amazing ability to create all sorts of reasoning and justification to apply to our situation which has just as much influence to stop us from doing, as it does to inspire us.

The creative addiction is complicated, because there are so many layers to it, like an onion. On the one hand we have the uncanny knack of being able to be suddenly inspired by the smallest trigger, yet we can create a myriad of excuses to not see something through. This juxtaposition can become frustrating and very disheartening not only to the person, but also to those around them. I know in my own experience i have met many talented musicians and artists who not only have rarely made their work public, but who seem to make it their life’s mission to come up with a multitude of excuses as to why that is the case, from their work not being finished, not “right”, them not being ready, it’s not the “right time”...the list goes on. The “closet artist” spends time doing amazing work, but would rather create excuses than reveal themself. The world is a lesser place for it.

Another aspect to the addiction is it’s affect on daily life. It feels wrong to be obsessed in the real world, and the swings from obsessive artistry to excuses and downers can make it somewhat difficult for relationships. It’s rare for me to meet a truly happy couple where only one is creative, because unless you share the same addiction, you simply struggle to understand. You seem to be living with a person who goes from one madness to the next, and find it difficult to cope with the extremes of highs and lows which come with no warning or logic. You have no way to prepare yourself for what will happen next, and at times it must feel like you want to burst. The partner of an artist can feel helpless in being able to support them emotionally, physically and spiritually. This can often result in a relationship breakdown, or the artist withdrawing into themselves and attempting to curb their creativity in a bid to save their relationship. For those creative/non-creative couples who HAVE found a way to make their relationship flourish deserve a round of applause with a standing ovation at the very least.

To summarise this ( and i will go into a little more detail at another time), i’d like to add that it’s important for an artist to explore their own addiction. Firstly i must stress that it is not BAD, WRONG, or TERRIBLE. You’re addicted to breathing, aren’t you? Well, put it in the same basket as that. You need to create to keep your brain and heart alive, no matter what you hear from those on the other side. But being able to identify and embrace your own ebb and flow, not only of your work, but also of your non-work, can help you and those around you come to an understanding of the complexities of creative addiction. Each one is unique, and each with their own needs.

Oh, and remember to smile...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

One Step Further...

Sooner or later you come to a crossroads. You've created all of this fantastic music/art/groovy-stuff, and you get to a point where you have to take a plunge to move forward. It's a first. Your first CD, exhibition, book, sale...whatever it is, it's filled with as much terror as it is excitement.

We live in an era where we can't make up the excuses we used to. Anything is possible. We generally have access to the tools to make this project happen, but it's fraught with the pain of "what if". What if it doesn't sell, what if i get bad reviews, what if I'm rejected? But here's the thing...nothing in this world is guaranteed. There is no water-tight solution for success.

And what is success? I measure success in the ability to create something out of nothing, regardless of whether hoards of people come flocking. How many times have you heard of artists struggling all their lives, only to be recognised after their deaths because of their extraordinary contribution to the world culture? How many films have been dismally received only to become cult icons decades later? And how many cds have had no airplay, yet warm the hearts of a few? I told myself at the beginning of my career that if i could touch the heart of one human being, and move them to make a change for the better, my work was done. Then i read my first fan letter, a stranger whom i didn't know changed his life because he was inspired. I was moved so deeply that my heart cried, and i made an oath to myself that my work had only just begun.

I remember the angst of creating my first independent release. The decision seemed agonising, but i knew it had to be done. I owed it to my children, to lead by example, and i had always believed that being a closet artist was a selfish occupation. Being creative doesn't come easy to many, so the rest of us have an obligation to share what we do with humanity. I lent on that idea every step of the way. I had to learn how to keep myself out of the way.

My first boxes of CDs sat in a cupboard for many moons. I had no idea what to do next, so for a long while i did almost nothing. Then i decided there was nothing to lose, and thought that even giving them away had to be better than taking up space in my office. I gave myself a hard time. I struggled with the "what if"s, but i was stubborn enough to not give up.

Things are a bit different now. Not because all i touch turns to gold, but because i have a method...a process. I'm experienced now, so the fear is assuaged. I still wonder about failure, but each time i release something new, i remind myself that the only failure is to do nothing. If i end up getting stuck with a few boxes full of CDs, well hey!! So what! I'll always have a gift to give to a stranger. And what better gift to give is there that a part of yourself.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Artist or Fraud?

During the early days of my career (which i identify as being during my early 20's), i was just starting to find the courage to label myself a composer. This was a huge step for me psychologically because although i was working as a professional musician, writing music for film and dance projects and performing regularly, i lived in this fear than sooner-or-later i was going to be caught-out as a fraud!

It's a big word, FRAUD. It has all kinds of connotations with it, and the whole concept has a dirty vibe to it. That's what i felt. Like my dirty secret would eventually get out, and I'd be exposed as nothing more than a pretender, a fake, a low-life wanna-be. Pretty intense, hey. Yet people were paying me good money to write and perform music, i was getting great reviews, the projects i was working on received world-wide acclaim, there were awards and was this possible if i was faking it?

So intense were my feelings, that i began to ask a few close artist friends whom i had the greatest creative respect for, "do you ever feel like you're a fake?". Unexpectedly they ALL said yes, each one of them reacting to the question with a sense of relief that they could finally talk about it. I discovered that not only was i not alone in my own feelings, but that this mindset was prevalent in creative vocations. There is an unspoken fear that eventually the artist will be sprung, and they would be forced back to the depths where they belong. Most surprising of all was my discovery that the more talented the artist, the deeper those feelings appeared to run.

Begs the question "why", doesn't it. Well, i can only answer this by drawing from what others have shared with me, and through my own experiences. So here's my theory...

"Talented" artists (we'll leave the discussion of what talent is for another time), often start out in a less traditional way. For example, I'm a self-taught musician, only taking lessons in music to sharpen up my skills and perceptions of my art form as a young adult. This leaves the door wide open to feel less validated and uncredited. Also, music to me comes so naturally...practically effortless. It's so enjoyable, it feels like there is no work involved in it, because most people class work as being something that one has to strive over and struggle with. Music also exposes a passion in me, one that is self-perpetuating...the more music I'm making, the more music i feel inspired to make. Plus, making music kinda gives me a high. All in all, it's such an enjoyable and easy process, fun and passion-invoking, that i feel like i must be cheating somehow.

I remember feeling this way when i used to improvise song arrangements on the piano as a kid to pop songs. I'd listen to a song a few times, and that was all I'd need. My friends would often need a few weeks working on it, but i seemed to already know it. I'd also just start singing harmonies to songs i barely knew...and knew no one else who could do that. i must have been cheating. I felt like i was, because i seemed to already know the answers. It makes perfect logical sense, except that of course there was no cheating involved, and no fraud...there was no deception.

It's about time that we as a society accepted that work doesn't need to be soul-destroying in order for it to be valid. We don't need to hate our jobs, our boss, and ourselves in order to show we work hard, and only then deserve some kind of return. And what is that term "working hard" all about anyway? Isn't "working well" a better description? Surely being effective is better than being hard. And if something comes naturally, isn't that a good thing? So many fantastic artists i have seen don't market themselves, believing their work can only be a hobby because it's something they love to do. DOH??!!

If reading this has struck a truth in you, then chances are that you have something you do that comes naturally and easily to you. It's called talent, not fraud. It's real, and humanity need you to share it, not keep it locked up in your closet. If you need to share how you feel, let it out now, don't wait 'til you're on your death-bed with a suitcase full of regrets. It's perfectly natural to feel this way, but don't let it ruin your journey.

Embrace your potential.
Express yourself.
Expose that which comes easy...because for so many other people, what you do takes hard work.
Your natural abilities are more valuable than any certificate you could ever get in your life...EVER!!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fear & Excitement: same?

Performers, like myself, spend a lot of time in potentially nervous situations. Standing in front of a crowd who hang on everything you deliver is pretty intense, and in the studio you have an extremely short time slot to come up with some kind of magical essence that will move people. Those who perceive this as a positive experience can do it over and over again. Those who see it negatively will most likely crash and burn (as many creative people do). The pressure can be immense, but there is one simple thing that can make all the difference to anyone who finds themselves in a nervous situation...the perception of fear and excitement.

Your heart races, you feel butterflies flapping wildly in your gut, your breathing intensifies, you feel a sense of heightened sensitivity as your eyes widen and you limbs quiver with anticipation. Fear or excitement? It's both. The only difference between fear and excitement is the way you think about it.

Teaching singers to deal with nervousness is something i really enjoy, because i like a good mind challenge. Most of the things that get in our way are to do with how we look at things, ourselves, and situations, and there's a real sense of satisfaction when a performer can break through a hurdle having met the challenge head-on...literally. So lets look at the example of 2 singers waiting for an audition.

Sally is nervous. That's what she's been telling herself all day ("God, I'm sooo nervous. I wish i wasn't nervous. I can't handle this nervousness!"). She sits in the waiting area to be called, wringing her hands, trying to breath in and out like her mum used to tell her before the school play would start as a kid). She's is trying to relax, tries to distract herself from even thinking about her cold hands and her body's shaking by disengaging from the whole idea. "Don't think about it", she tells herself. "Think about other things". She withdraws within herself in an attempt to escape.

Jen is also waiting to be called in. She's been bubbling over most of the day. She was so excited this morning that she went for a short run before she got ready, just to settle herself. She's been thinking about the audition all day, humming out her songs to herself, playing it over in her mind as her butterflies flutter away in her stomach, but she's been telling herself "I'm soooooo excited! This is going to be so great. I'm so lucky to be here!". She didn't believe herself at first, tempted to called it "nerves", but she resisted. In the waiting area she feels the excitement level increasing. She paces the floor, bouncing on the spot every now and then to discharge her adrenaline, and keeps herself focused an in a positive state of mind. Her body is doing the same things that Sally's is, but Jen keeps moving and keeps up her positive mind speak.

The two have totally different experiences with their audition. Sally has spent so much of her time trying to distance herself from thinking about the audition, that she appears disinterested in it. She has been trying to keep her body so still by attempting to relax, that as soon as she goes to sing, her cells fire up from the build-up of chemicals and she loses vocal control. She gets really down on herself and has given up before she's even half-way through. She leaves in tears, gutted by another sense of failure.

Jan bounds in to the room, and her energy is immediately obvious. She's been releasing her adrenaline all day, so she maintains a lot of vocal control. She brings to her audition a sense of excitement and passion, and though she makes mistakes, she keeps positive and moves on, so well in fact that some of the panel don't even notice her errors. She leaves with a feeling of success.

The flight-or-fight response is our body's way of preparing us for engagement. Whether you call it excitement or nervousness, it's the same physical thing. Chemicals get released into our cells to prepare them with optimum power and strength, and are there to save your life. One of the mistakes people make when they have these feelings is to try and calm them down, but our body is geared up for battle, not for meditation.

If you focus instead on releasing the pressure physically (jump up and down, run around the block, etc), and tell yourself over and over how excited you are (even if at first you don't believe it), you can make a huge difference to your experience. You can then learn to USE that amazing zing and turn it into an opportunity to deliver in a way you can't when you're in your comfort zone. Harnessing this energy instead of denying it can turn a good delivery into something quite remarkable.

Are fear and excitement the same? Try it out for yourself, and you be the judge.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Cup Half Full

How i see it, there are 2 ways of looking at things. Either they suck, or they're good. And it's a choice you make, because things don't MAKE you unhappy, you CHOOSE to feel that way. Either you see things as a cup-half-full or a cup-half-empty.

It's not about your nature either. You can teach yourself how to view everything with a positive spin, even if you've been a pessimist all your life. You can teach yourself to tell yourself that it isn't as bad as it could be, it could always be worse, and to take whatever comes as an opportunity to learn, grow, become stronger, teach someone else, etc...

Let's face it, life is a gift. You were lucky to have gotten this far, and millions haven't. You can make the most of it, or wallow away in despair and give up. You can whinge and whine and make yourself feel even worse, or you can believe in the future and turn your situation around.

The cup is filled to same level, no matter how you perceive it, but i can tell you that if it's half full, you'll take great delight in rising to the challenge and turning any weakness into a strength.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Are We There Yet?

People often focus on the destination.
Nothing wrong with that. heading towards a goal helps us to achieve them, it motivates us...keeps us on track.
So what about the journey? What happens when the ONLY thing one focuses on is the destination?

Let's look at the example of the road-trip. You've put a big red dot on the destination, and all roads lead there. You calculate an estimate of the time it will take to get there, gather the means by which you can travel there, and work out a plan to implement the journey.

Things start out fine. That destination is all that you can think about, but it's a long trip, and keeping your eyes glued straight ahead has meant you didn't see some very cool scenery soon after you started. Oh, well. The sooner you can get there, the better, so cool views aren't really relevant anyway. The next day you set out on the second leg of the journey, and work out that if you don't make that lunchtime pit-stop, you just might shave half-an-hour off your journey. The pit-stop would have been great, because you could have relaxed, perhaps made a new friend, or even been part of some kind of great story, but your focus is all on the end result.

This goes on for another week before you finally arrive. But you've arrived worn-out, bitter about your crap journey, tired because of no down-time, frustrated with the little things like roadworks which got in your way, and you just feel like shit. Following your recovery, you begin to feel a bit jaded, because you poured so much energy and effort and frustration into getting here, and everyone seems oblivious to your efforts. This place was such a castle-in-the-sky in your mind, but in reality it's just another place...another starting point.

Your friend makes the same trip, and is excited about her destination, but she takes her time, meets people and sees places along the way. She takes it easy on the road and arrives with a myriad of stories about her trip, laughs about how long it took (twice as long as you), and takes a little time to reflect before happily exploring this new place.

Focusing on the end result only might get you there faster, but how much will you miss along the way? Is it worth losing your happiness over? Might you be so headstrong about the destination that you miss other opportunities? And if your destination itself is a state of happiness, wouldn't it be easier to simply enjoy life's journey?

Goals are great, and there's nothing like the feeling of achieving them, but if the journey sux, there's not much chance that you'll truly be able to indulge in the joy of arriving there. And once you get there, there's another goal ahead....or is that a journey? :)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Trading Places

Switching out of your own perspective and sliding into someone else's shoes can be a very healthy thing to do. Whether you trade your perspective with your fans, fellow artists, or someone you are having a robust debate with, it's helpful from all sides if you can play the role of empath. After all most of us are seeking to fulfil our needs, and often, whether by chance or planning, WE suddenly arrive in a position to fulfill those needs.

Fans may want inspiration from us to use in their own lives. They might hope for contact, understanding, or simply acknowledgement. The same can be said for most of the people who we have contact with. It's human nature to want confirmation that we exist, that there is meaning in our existence, and that we have a role to play within our own lives.

Even in a heated argument, each side may in fact be more needful of acknowledgement than being told they are right. Passionate exchange is as much about the exploration of ourselves as it is about being validated. It's common for us to say things and take strong positions on topics which we hadn't really thought-out before, because oftentimes it's the argument itself which helps us dig deep and discover for ourselves how we feel and what we believe. It's not all that difficult to acknowledge someone without sacrificing your own view on the matter, simply through the act of stepping into their shoes and trying to see things from their perspective.

For the artist, exploring a work from the viewer's or listener's perspective can help us step back from our work. This is very important on the business end of the Arts, being paid to accomplish a specific task. This doesn't mean "selling out" or jeopardising the creative integrity of a work, but merely offers an opportunity to explore other possibilities. Another person will NEVER see the creative work in the same way as the artist.

Try it. You might be surprised how interesting it can be :)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Big Squeeze

If you're not a creative artist, it's difficult to imagine being one.

And if you are one, your perspective on what you do can easily be clouded by which particular aspect of your work you are battling with...because let's face it, sometimes being creative can feel like a downright curse.

It's no coincidence that artists throughout history have been portrayed as eccentric. Strange behaviour and unusual traits come with the territory. And it's not that creative people are necessary lazy, obnoxious or's often more to do with their own inward struggle in actually producing those masterpieces for regular people to say "oh, isn't that nice".

You see the creative mind is a fragile mind. It lives somewhere between normality and insanity, ever flirting with the possibility of going over the edge. Geniuses are often forgiven for this, but not so the humble unknown creative. Musicians are sometimes idolised for it, but alas this only leads to their downfall.

There's no doubt that the ability to create something from a complete nothing is an amazing thing, and i can say from experience that the rapturous moments of creativity seem to suffocate the memories of slaving and heartache, frustration and insanity. It's kind of like having a baby, where the pain of the birth is soon forgotten in the bliss of the child.

But creating is hard work. The mind, the heart, and often the soul must visit places unimaginable and then attempt to create some kind of echo in the real world, like pulling a reality through some kind of portal. Sometimes it seems to happen spontaneously...effortlessly, and at other times it feels impossible. The emotional roller coaster ride can make a work as painful as attempting to squeeze an elephant through the eye of a needle.And of course then one must also juggle the real world...raising a family, friends, sometimes other work...

And artistic people understand that they're often misunderstood. They've usually felt it all their lives. For some it becomes the thorn in their side, ever tormenting. For others it's just another aspect to their uniqueness, another thing that disconnects them from a normal life. It can fuel a passionate rage which can inspire a myriad of possibilities as easily as it can quash the very essence of the creative mind.

There are so many ingredients which need to come together in order to breathe life into a new work. Some of it can be serendipitous, and some need time, thought, passion, and integrity. Some arrive on your doorstep, and some take you on a long and tiring hunt...hunts which can take a lifetime to complete.

If you're not a creative artist, it's difficult to imagine being one.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Creative Gypsies

Creative people are notorious for their gypsy natures...staying for only so long before they depart and move on. Perhaps it's because they need to experience the new and exciting, seeking an elusive rapture. Maybe it's because of a secret need to be understood, and a knowing that this is perhaps not possible, creating a type of "running-away" to miss the enevitable misunderstanding and failure.

Creative minds are often fragile ones, but it's this hyper-sensitivity which enables them to express the subtlties of life's experiences. They are the observers of the small and seemingly insignificant as much as they are the voice of the communitiy. They shed light on the hidden worlds of our innermost thoughts, as much as represent the changes in movement of a people.

If you are lucky enough to be born an artist, there is little you can do to fight the urge, to win the inner battle with the self, or to resist the need to express. These things are often what makes things pour out of a sealed vessel which needs to crack to release it's contents. Artists have never before had such opportunities to connect with other artists and share their souls. Sites such as Redbubble provide playgrounds for artists to find communities and a likemindedness, to share their works and their aspirations and to connect.

So much we can be thankful for.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

System Meltown

my first real recordings were made on an old Teac 4-track reel-to-reel. Yep, they be those actual spinning reels with 1/4 inch tape. Ha! That was how i learned the joy of small-studio recording, learning to bounce-down tracks, cue up exactly using the play heads, and create effects using some rather cool workings of the room i was in.

Now, in the midst of an almost 2 week computer meltdown, i am beginning to look fondly back on that time. Sure, i didn't really know what i was doing, but it was simple in my head...create a pleasing sound, then press record and do it again. No fancy mics or effects racks, no software or buses or khz, mhz or gigbtz. press go. take care of tape. now or never.

i love being able to do more now. I love the time saving...when it doesn't shift into time-wasting, that is. Technology can make things so much easier, aswell as so much harder. Gone are the days...those were the days...

Now hurry up and load, you great big heap of.....

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Winter's Creative Spirit

As the cold air in the morning struggles to warm itself in it's sunshine bathe, i feel myself slide into a familiar, and somewhat retrospective mindset. Autumn is like that. Time seems to slow, and so does everything around me.

Where i live there is no snow. Our's is a mild winter by many standards, but the change of the season is as if someone is playing with your mind more than obvious changes. Sure, trees become leaf-barren, and the mercury drops, but the most obvious change to me is the sinking feeling that creeps up, until you suddenly become aware that you're in it.

I wrote a poem called "Winter Solstice". That best describes the creative shift that i feel coming into this season.

Still, a few more weeks before i am kissed by her.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Creative Tension

...that's what my friend Clare calls it. I'm refering to the stalling tactics i use on myself to avoid doing the very thing i love doing most of all...writing music.

I can go for weeks doing everything BUT working on my music. There's plenty of distractions...and i tell myself i know what i SHOULD be doing. But i don't go there. I keep promising myself i will, but can always find the perfect avoidance tactic at the perfect moment.

Apparently i'm not alone. It's something that a lot of creative people i know experience. It's an angel-on-the-shoulder experience for some, knowing full well that you would be far more productive getting that project out of your head and started already!

"You need creative tension to release the beast", says Clare. maybe she's right. It's gets to the point where it becomes almost unbearable, and i finally give in. THEN, the rapture! The momentum! Everything just pours out, and i envelop myself in it's bliss. It seems to come from everywhere all at one, and magically spills out of me.

"Maybe if you didn't experience it, you wouldn't have such powerful outpourings," says Clare. Maybe she's right.

So for now, i will just explore it's possibilities. Easy to say that when it's pouring out of you. But i have written this to remind me, and anyone else who needs reminding, that maybe she's right. Maybe it's a good thing after all.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Art of ones life

Creative minds get inspired essentially because of what happens in their lives. It comes from an experience, a happening, a realisation, an experiement. It's a simple equation. A+B=C.

We all create our lifes based on our experience, regardless of whether we persue a creative outlet or not. We base daily decisions on our lives by such things as how much money we have in our pocket (shall i take the train or drive today?), how we feel about people (yikes! i don't want to bump into him!), and our attitudes (I love doing this!). And these perspectives were themselves born out of experiences and earlier perspectives, which in turn came from earlier ones, etc.

Some people make a living out of helping people trace back those steps to identify significant events in their lives...but what about those stepping stones ahead? If you look to the past, it becomes clear that your own choices lead you down your path, and so it makes sense that the choices you make now and tomorrow will create a new path into the future.

So, let's experiment.

How about changing one specific choice for one week, and see what happens to you, how you feel, and what your experiences are. It might be a complete change in dress style, listening to completely different music than your normally would, or hanging out with people you wouldn't normally speak to. The key to the exercise is that it needs to be a significant change, and one that will most likely redirect you for that week. You might be surprised at what happens.

Ok, what's the point? Well, our lives are a bit like a sculpture, each experience chipping away at our present self, and shaping our future self. Many people underestimate how much control they have in this somewhat artistic process. Some artists like to do these kind of experiements often, to keep their experiences and perspective fresh. I often read stories of how creative people came to do their projects, and it makes for facsinating reading.

Maybe after your week, you might have something facsinating to tell aswell.

Friday, April 3, 2009

It's nice to be nice to the nice :)

There's been a lot of talk recently about big business learning from small business, and for years there's been a quiet evolution going on. Now that the shit has hit the fan, and big businesses are tumbling like dominos, many are sprouting about the "new way" to do business. But is it new, and is it radical?

Since 1996 i have been running my own micro business, and have kept to a few basic principals. I treat customers and clients with personal respect, and give them a say in their dealings with me. It's not difficult, in fact it's very gratifying. It's also not new. Village businesses for thousands of years have been trading in this way focusing on the person rather than "the deal". It's a trade. Someone needs/wants something that they can't make or provide for themselves, so they seek out a source. It's about an energy exchange, and sometimes it comes in the form of a swap of product or services, or more often an exchange of money.

And what is money anyway? If I keep chickens and have too many eggs than i can eat, i might swap some each week with my neighbour, who plants excess vegitables to exchange with me and others. Now we both have eggs and vegies. No money needed, just pre-planning. But the honey man doesn't need eggs or vegies, but i need honey. So i give him cash so he can swap that for something he does need, that i can't provide for him. So money is a way of exchanging an equivelent value of something which cannot be bartered. This simple perception of money is no different today. It's the spending of virtual money (credit) which makes things complicated and unstable.

I sell a lot of Tania Rose CDs via online auctions. In this way customers get to choose the value of the CD for themselves. A cd to one person might be worth far more than it is to another, so a customer can have a say, and only buy at the price that suits them. I like this feeling of fairness and bartering. It's also about the customer's experience during their purchase too. I like to have fun when i buy, and i think a lot of other people do to, so i like to share that in our communications and service with each customer.

But the feel-good doesn't end there. Once we're all happy with the exchange, and everyone has had a sense of fun, THEN we get to hear from people saying what a pleasure the whole experience was. You can't imagine the joy i feel when i read emails, messages and blogs from people about their possitive experience. Its like icing on the cake. Here's an example from Libby Varcoe

So, doing business with passion and personal detail isn't new. It's the old way to do business, just as if you are trading with your family or neighbour. There should be a feeling of satisfaction on both sides of the fence, and if your not feeling warm and fuzzy, then chances are neither is your customer.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Creative PMT & the madness of being

Being a creative person has it's highs and lows.
On the positive side ...well, it's pretty awesome to start out with absolutely nothing and fill that nothing with a something that previously never existed. It's a feeling of total satisfaction...for a brief moment at least...and in my case it's very brief, as my need to create is insatiable.

The journey is always unique, always significant personally, and each project seems to capture and freeze a time frame in my life (which can be good when you're feeling great, or bad if life was feeling pretty shite at the time).

The preceding process is almost always filled with angst, confusion, and other crappy vibes. In fact, they're usually the first signs that i know a project is about to be born. It's like a kind of creative PMT. If i don't get on with it, that PMT can last for as long as it takes before i finally birth that baby! I also find that i preoccupy myself with everything BUT starting something, distracting myself with anything i can possible think of and making myself sink further into the abyss. We could spend a lot of time debating why it is i do it to myself, but my guess is that it probably stems from my boredom as a child, which is what encouraged me to create my own stuff. So perhaps i'm subconsciously trying to bore myself until i can't stand myself any longer. Whatever the reason, i seem to take on a dual-personaility, half artist and half mad-woman. i must be a pain to live with at times!

Once i've thrown myself in the deep end, i'm quickly committed. I truly enjoy the process of creation, starting out with something idea, a skelaton, a fragment, or perhaps nothing but the moment itself and a big empty. I enjoy the crafting of it, the tweeking, the's like an adventure in a new place, unknown territory. I love to flirt with serendipity and chance, and make the whole thing feel like it has a free will of it's own. I become dedicated, somewhat fanatical, and definately obsessed with it's exploration. Until there's a technical problem, or more likely I become the technical problem, stubbournly dig my heals and then sulk...briefly... until i find a way to let go, relieved and content with serendipity's kiss.

As with many artists, my internal world is filled with contradictions, fears and passion, which manifest in numerous ways when i work. But most days my world is filled with motherhood, business, and friendship, and my creativity brews under the surface, growing and festering under my skin.

Life is good

Monday, March 23, 2009

Too Good To Be True

Recently i've tried to give away a random CD to a random person.
By saying that i have tried i mean it literally. People are often suspicious of you offering something for nothing, out of the blue. They suspect there's a catch.

So i've been trying to give away a cd, and it has proved to be very trying indeed. Has marketing and consumerism sucked the life out of the power of a random act of kindness? Is it too much to take in that someone just might give you something because they can? Don't people believe in karma or serendipity anymore?

Try it yourself. I hope you have better luck than me. I DO live in the hope that we can beat this negativity by more of us offering random acts of kindness in our day to day lives. It doesn't have to be much. Just opening a door for a mother and her children, offering your good shopping trolley to the elderly person who is struggling with their runaway, or offering some of you homegrown tomatoes to your neighbour. It really is as much a joy for the giver as it is for the person who embraces your kindness.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Did ya ever dream?

Remember when you were a kid?
Remember the excitement and anticipation of becoming an adult. "when i'm a grown-up, I'm gonna.....". So what was it you were going to do? Whatever it was, it was pretty exciting, and you couldn't WAIT to get started, holding onto the magic of the idea and all it's merit.

So, now you're all grown up, did you do it?

Why is it that adulthood often quashes the dreams and aspirations of childhood? Why can't we indulge in a passionate reality, where we believe in possibilities and aspire to greatness? Surely we don't have to take ourselves so seriously all of the time. There is still so much to explore, create and discover. After all, aren't adults just older children?

Hold onto those dreams. Allow yourself to breathe life into them. When you were a child, the only thing holding you back was not being old enough to do what you wanted. Now the only thing holding you back is you.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Family & The New Year spirit

Like most folks, the New Year to me symbolises a newness, an opportunity to throw off the excuses and execute a fresh and new approach, where each step is one closer to the unreachable "grown-up" within. It's a time to proudly look back, and with excitement look forward. It's a time when a part of me wants to rush ahead without looking down, and crash through my own boundaries, even if it means grazing my knees.

As for the year that was, i am happy in many ways. In the case of recordings, the year finished with the recording of a children's CD, in which all of children and my husband Mark were involved. It was sprint to the finish, but we made it, and all still with laughter intact, and have a very special recording to share as a result. It's the favourite in our house...can't understand why...

2009 is shaping up to be another year of experimenting, and indulging in ideas that i have had for many years. A water album, perhaps (to follow on from the music of the air - Feather's Breath)...Serendipity is certainly playing her part in this, as she always does, literally handing me instruments and gadgets to record with. I also plan to spend more time recording songs, and see this as a major aspect of my time in the studio this year. There is much to achieve.

My friend Clare and i are still scheming with our photography projects, and have a lot of ideas and plans in the pipeline. Living in different parts of the country isn't easy, but we are planning to get together when we can and stuff ourselves silly with photo shoots and editing. Looking forward to getting my hands dirty!

There are lots of other opportunities to work with some fabulous Artists this year, and it's hard not to say yes to everything. I'd like to get back into drawing this year too, something i've been promising myself for some time now, and my sewing projects have now taken over half the house! None of them finished, of course.

So, less time online, and more time frontline, i think one could say. Maybe i need to turn that into a sign for my office....