Hey y’all, your friendly neighborhood percussionist at your service.
You know, like most other forms of art, music can evoke emotions, it can be interpreted by others in ways the artist might not have expected and it can inspire others to create new original art of their own or put a unique spin on something else, hopefully in a flattering manner. Usually there are specific pieces of art though, either of a similar theme or by one or more like artists, that draw a person back to them time and time again; sometimes unbeknownst to the individual. With regards to art, in this case music, I’ve found that there are three types of people: those that couldn’t care less about it, those who see it as nothing more than a fleeting moment of escape from their reality, and those who gravitate towards it and develop some level of personal connection. Type number 3 are incredibly fascinating people because when they create music in response to other music they’ve heard, or they share music that resonates with them, you get this subtle and wonderful sense of what the person is like. Maybe it’s a glimpse into how they feel in private moments, maybe it’s a strong cultural influence they grew up with and have pride in, or maybe something that they want desperately to share and can’t find words to do so. When music is so important to a person, it could be for any number of reasons, but I feel that the music they take into themselves will eventually reciprocate outwards.
I am drawn to emotional music; sad, funky, empowering, bittersweet, etc; and it’s the music in which I find the emotional connection. If the lyrics are strong enough, then great, but 9 times out of 10, I’m thinking about how the carefully arranged collection of notes and chords makes me feel at my core. No, I’m not the stereotypical emo rock type, though that genre does have a place in my life. One of my favorite bands, Nightwish, has a song called “Song of Myself” and the last line says “And there forever remains that change from G to E minor”. This line has a two-fold meaning: the album is a concept album and that line references the story, but scientifically speaking, certain chord changes in music can effectively evoke emotional triggers in the brain and a major to minor chord change is one of them. This is so fucking fascinating to me and whenever I experience music that does such a thing, I dive deeper into it. Knowing this, it should come as little surprise that I try to incorporate this into my musical ideas. Nightwish was a huge influence in ideas I had for a song written almost a decade ago called My Dearly Departed, but in currently written music, my ideas still have a twinge of the emotional element that I find so intriguing and powerful.
TFL has this mantra of “unabashed creativity”. In a way, it’s a redundant phrase, because if you’re creating something that is not unique to yourself, then you are holding something back, and therefore being only partially creating and partially replicating. We could get into the whole discussion of “it’s all been done before; there are only so many notes” blah blah blah (trust me, I’ve had that conversation 40 bajillion times) but my point is that musicians who are truly vested in their work usually have some kind of goal in mind. Techno artists want to discover all the ways they can manipulate sound waves and frequencies and still get you to dance like the sexy, overworked socialite you think you are. Metal artists want to find different ways, in varying proportions, to simultaneously get out deep-seeded aggression and be curiously technical and mathematical, or, as I like to call it, brutally nerdy. Jazz artists want to explore ways to bare the soul as smoothly and colorfully as possible; so on and so forth. Having fun making music plays a big role, but if that’s all you’re looking to do, then not only will your career be stunted by the next band who just wants to have fun, but your skill level as a musician will also be limited. I am simply saying there needs to be an equilibrium between having fun and challenging yourself. I firmly believe that if you want to be a successful pop rock, soul, djent, country, or whatever band, you must find that equilibrium because the bands that come and go in the blink of an eye are most certainly holding something back.
“Unabashed” also means honest. I do not believe that musicians should make music to the expectations of their fans. True fans like what the band chooses to do and a lot of times, they like it even more when they see the band grow and mature. Being honest in a band means the members are honest with each other. When I present an idea and we give it a solid effort, I’m looking for feedback. Very rarely are new ideas perfect on the first go, so I expect their thoughts on what they like about the idea, what might need to be tweaked, or what simply just doesn’t work in their mind. I expect this for three reasons: because all four of us have equal say in how the music forms and because I want to make sure we are all thinking critically about the music, because in my mind, that’s the only way we are going to grow and succeed individually and collectively. We have significant roles in the band, therefore we have significant perspectives. Our music is certainly unabashed. It’s honest, it’s imperfect, it’s evolving.
I promise I will discuss the music in more musical and less philosophical terms soon. For those of you who don’t already know, I’m getting married to the funniest, most beautiful and unabashed person I’ve ever known in 1 month and 22 days, so needless to say, I have been preoccupied. Thanks for reading and thanks very much for listening.