Friday, July 19, 2013

The Creative Process

I must confess I am not a regular NPR listener. Not because I have no interest in the content, I just don't have a good environment to really enjoy it. My impression was everyone listened to NPR on the car radio, or on their iPhone while trying to avoid the middle seat on the commuter train. I don't own a car and the commute from the couch to my chair in the studio is about 24 feet, not nearly enough time for All Songs Considered. Oddly enough I like to get my informational content from visual sources such as The Charlie Rose show, The Colbert Report, or South Park. Thankfully some of the really great stuff finds its way into my consciousness via surfing the Internet. I'd like share one such gem with you.

The creative process is a complicated one. It's a daunting task to create something when you are starting with a blank piece of paper, a lens without a subject, or the sound of silence. Early in your career you will come up with countless ideas and just as many reasons why every one of those ideas are shit. It won't end there. These thoughts will have a return engagement deep into your career when you stretch creatively and try new things. Perhaps you have been writing kick-ass poetry for years but that novel you just started is at a "Paris Hilton" reading level. Your Cello sonata is masterful but there isn't a hit of ecstasy large enough to make that dance remix palatable. I hope what you are about to hear will put all that self doubt where it belongs, into perspective. It certainly did for me.

So without further ado, wisdom from the host of NPR's This American Life, Ira Glass.

The wonderful animation was done by filmmaker and designer David Shiyang Liu

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

You really can stick your Elbow in your ear .....

I was first introduced to the English band Elbow in 2008 by a friend and I've been in love with the band ever since. They produce an intelligent and thoughtful brand of epic Alt-Rock, (I hate labels too but we need some point of reference). The music is rarely overproduced and unlike many rock artists these days, they make use of dynamics, (both loud and soft). The band is like a blue collar version of Radiohead, dirtier with a lot less "art school" baggage. The band's vocalist Guy Garvey has a beautifully gruff voice that sounds as if he's pouring out his feelings after one too many pints at the pub. Now I have a proclivity for singers that don't fit the traditional picture of what a vocalist should be, and he fits perfectly in that list of misfit voices. Garvey is also one of the few English singers I can think of whose Anglo accent is apparent when singing, (no, that fake Green Day stuff doesn't count). 

They have released 5 studio albums plus one compilation of B-sides and such. The most successful and my favorite by far is The Seldom Seen Kid, released in 2008. In 2009 they released a live performance of this album with the BBC Orchestra that is really outstanding. Rock artists with orchestras are a very mixed bag, sometimes wonderful, sometimes not. I encourage you take some time and get to know this inspiring group via the playlist below. The video is one of the more interesting integrations off the live album.