To create something exceptional, your mindset must be relentlessly focused on the smallest detail. - Giorgio Armani
The season is here folks! The season to create!
In talking and hanging with multiple people over the course of the last couple of months, it seems as though it’s a good season for everybody. Friends and colleagues are recording tunes, putting out albums, painting beautiful images, capturing beautiful sights, and the list goes on. It truly is inspiring to see so many of you creating art despite what is going on in the world today. It’s inspiring to see people push through no matter what brings them down in their own personal lives.
I, myself, have been creating. I’ve been working on writing tunes for a while now but took a break because of work. Every summer I work too many days and hours and used that as an excuse to take a break, which I really shouldn’t do. No more excuses! I’m in a season of creating because I feel inspired and on fire. This current fire to create is honestly fueled a little by heartbreak but sometimes that’s all you need to get it going, right? I mean, I’m not going all Gloria Gaynor status during this time and writing songs like “I Will Survive” to say “screw you, loser” but this heartbreak has forced me to face truths about myself that are causing me to dig deeper and reflect on my own life which have been beneficial in writing. All of these truths I am facing have allowed me to take a step back, view certain aspects of my life from different perspectives and write from a more honest point. I’m drawn to music that is soulful and raw which is what I’d like to convey.
I have been taking the time to listen deeper to records that inspire me. I’m talking about listening deeper as in putting a good old pair of cans on and staring at a wall as I listen to music. I have been freeing myself of all distractions and surrounding myself with this music. I’ve been listening to lyrics, melodies, harmony and nuances that make a great song with closer attention to detail than I ever have. There are millions of songs out there but not all of them are great. What makes a song great? It’s a hard question to answer because I think it’s so subjective to everyone’s personal tastes but as I listen deeper, I think what makes a song great in any genre is balance. When I think balance in a great song, I think how well melodies fit in with the harmony around it. Of course sonically speaking, balance in the mix is important as well but for me, balance between melody and harmony is where it’s at. It’s what draws my attention and makes me want to listen closely.
As a horn player, I naturally gravitate towards horn players and instrumental music. I have a huge list of favorites but at the top of my list lies Roy Hargrove. His ‘Earfood’ album is killin’! It’s all acoustic and funky. That album is what I’m basing my writing off of. The whole thing is soulful and honestly simple. Nobody is trying to outdo anybody. It’s raw. They’re all playing together and they’re all playing tasty. Roy wrote some genius melodies that, in my opinion, fit in perfectly with the harmony on that entire album. When I listen to the album, I hear well thought out ideas and melodies. There was purpose behind everything on that record, including mistakes! Roy left a lot of mistakes on the album that give it character, which is something I like about it too. It gives it that human factor that inspires me. The album is not perfect which makes it perfect, if that makes any sense?
Here’s a live recording of a tune called ‘Soulful’ that Roy wrote. Listen to it. It’s so simple yet so beautiful. There are literally like six chords in the tune yet they make it soulful, see what I did there?
Another favorite artist of mine is Emily King. She’s someone who inspires me with her melodies and her lyrics. I would also consider her music as simple but very elegant. Her music has balance with her melodic voice soulfully fitting into the harmony. I’ve always admired musicians who can write lyrics and fit them so effortlessly into melodies. Maybe one day I can write some lyrics myself! But first, instrumental album needs to be released!
I can sit here and list every one of my favorite artists that inspire me but that would just take forever. The reason why I named only a couple artists were to give an example of what I would consider balance but also to state that you need to listen out to music that inspires you to grow in your own craft. I really want to write tunes but I never learned how. My way of learning is by listening with more detail and trying to emulate what I hear. If you feed your imagination with what you’re trying to do and sound like, you’re more likely to sound that way. That’s something I picked up at Citrus College studying trumpet performance with Bob Slack. It’s how I go about learning music.
A good friend of mine, Brian Ward, who is an amazing musician, has taught me some about honing in on specific types of music. I did a gig with Brian up in Northern California and since I decided to fly back on this trip (I always like to drive myself), I asked to ride in the car with him since he was driving himself. It was interesting watching him select the music he wanted to listen to. I respect Brian soo much because he is such a great musician. We were listening to Tom Misch in the car and I said , “Hey, since you like Tom, you’d like so and so!” He was like eh, they’re great but I’m listening to these kinds of artists because this is what I’d like to play and sound like. It may have seemed picky from my end but it was very oddly cool for me. It explained why he gets soo good at the styles of music he plays. I get distracted very easily. That’s why it takes me forever to write my own stuff because I listen to everything and I want to do everything and although it’s cool that I listen to everything, it doesn’t always help with productivity for me. That is also another reason why I only named two artists above because I’ve been listening a lot to them because I want to have that sound.
So to conclude this post, I do believe that this time right now is the season to create. Find what inspires you and use it as fuel to recreate and make it your own! Put it out there for the world to see. Take a risk! You never know, maybe in a hundred years, someone could come across your art and love it and inspire them to creat their own. You also never know how it night inspire someone to better their own life.
I’ll keep listening and writing out what inspires me and moves me to be a better human. Keep an eye out for my stuff!