It’s been a month or so since my last post & here are my sins!
Having attended the Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival again this year, I caught a cool conversation being sparked by a musician called Warren Attwell. Warren would be a good friend of mine and someone I went to University with. He’s a very talented writer and vocalist! During the introduction to one of his songs, Warren discussed the topic of ‘mental health’. I’ll not get into his conversation, go check him out live and hear what he has to say, but it highlighted that I wasn’t alone in my thoughts.
Being creative is fantastic! I love that I can reply “I’m a Musician!” when people ask me “What do you do?”. I love that I can disappear off into a studio or back room in my house and come out with a piece of art (some might say a piece of Shit! but we’ll agree to disagree) but at the end of any project, EP, Album or concert comes the few weeks of being down. Maybe that’s what makes that EP, Album or concert so special.
I used to really suffer from the ‘dark cloud’ after things. I’d also be the type of person to ask my wife “So what was wrong with that gig?” or “What’s the worst song on the Album?”. There’s a fragility in what we do as artists. I hear people say “you just put yourself out there” but that’s not even the tough part. It’s just the amount of work involved in these things, the price of these things and the constant emotional roller coaster that needs to exist for you to be able to express yourself as a viable artists & justify the expense of doing what you love.
I’ve gradually become an Artist, Songwriter, Manager, PR Team, Social Media Team, Promoter, Tour Manager, Accountant, Sales department, web designer, graphic designer, administrator & customer support team. The head space that this takes up is enormous, but then you’ve every day life & a job to contend with. You become obsessed with the projects and it fully takes over your life for a while and then … It stops.
The project is over… This could have happened with my album. But I setup a few things to prevent the sudden stop. I had jobs & projects setup to make the come down a little easier. I’ve a few songwriting sessions hanging over from the Kickstarter that I need to sort out. I had a few gigs and tours to go on to keep the good time flowing from the Album release & launch. And then I had an external verification (inspection) in my teaching job to make sure the content was of a high standard. I’ve still be playing my cover gigs & teaching my classes during the week as well. All of these things keep me focused, but I’ve come to realise the down time is necessary. Staying on the cusp of something isn’t very healthy. Constantly being on edge as the next part of the project comes to fruition or unwinds. There’s something to be said for just processing what you’ve done, deconstructing it and moving forward after that. I’ve been trying to cheat the system & rather than get the ‘Dark Could’, I developed a hyped up version of anxiety. It’s been fantastic for pushing through my career & I’m sure I could work on that level for a few years, but what’s the end goal? When do you stop trying to hoard work or hoard that emotional high.
Contentment is what i’ve been searching for. I don’t think I knew that. I’ve definitely taken on way more work than my body & mind could handle this year. It’s not been very healthy & I’ve not been very good to my body either. As things start to move in your career it’s hard not to treat successful years as those you made the most money. I’ve been really really lucky to be able to even to get to this level of self sustainability.
I read recently on a Facebook post from a musician that “music should be fun”. I don’t think that’s true. Music should be fun, frustrating, sad, angry, heartfelt, somber & maddening! It should be every emotion. I should stop trying to prescribe a solution to the emotions & enjoy them. I know how weird that sounds to say enjoy sadness… but I can appreciate the difference between all of these emotions now. The end result of tough years with highs and lows should be the equilibrium of content. I’m posting this more as a therapeutic reminder for myself rather than a guidance for anyone else. #Selfish #Musician
It’s ok to be a little fucked up sometimes.