I recently did this video about something that’s completely been missing from all of my musical pursuits. It’s the answer to the most common question asked of an artist – ‘why should I care?’ – and it’s the key to credibility and all that comes with it. I lack leverage.
I have a talent, according to my friends and family, and more believably, according to the kind strangers who have told me so at the small, infrequent, poorly attended shows and performances that have characterized my career as a performing violinist / dj / musician thus far. Thanks to them, I have been able to transcend the idea that people close to me are concealing the truth because they love me, and I go on.
So I’m kinda stuck in the middle right now. I am way past the immature temptation of blaming Cape Town (let’s face it – most people don’t have the money or transport for music shows), and I’m also done with blaming myself for a lack of talent, time, equipment, etc. I just don’t see these negative thoughts as useful to anyone with a serious intention.
But on the other hand, I also don’t feel like I am anywhere musically. I have one friend – Emile – who regularly expresses interest in using music to change the circumstances of his life. All the other musicians I know seem either not interested in making anything of their skill, or worse, starry-eyed with the idea that they’re gonna be the next big thing. Meanwhile, the quicker you rise, the quicker you fall. I’m going for a once-off permanent switch thanks.
So my average week consists of only around 4 or 5 hours practice. I intend to say ‘per day’ at some point, but for now, it’s not enough. The rest of the time I’m doing everything from tutoring Koreans to uploading web content to documenting this journey, even to selling donated chess sets in order to pay my somewhat living cost – R6000 per month. Half of that expense is the rent, a beautiful farm cottage with rehearsal potential, but not being used! How can I capitalize?
So I need to make some changes. Suggestions? How am I gonna break out of the catch-22? What do I have to do in order to make something extraordinary?
The room in which I now sit has been the subject of my daydreams for the past decade. Around the age of 20, when I first started cautiously entertaining the idea of becoming a ‘creative’, among my lecture note sketchings was the image of a room with two large speakers mounted on stands, one to the left and one to the right. Also pictured was a large workbench, upon which was laid out the tools of my trade – a laptop computer, computer keyboard and various MIDI devices. As time crawled slowly on, as it only can in your twenties, the images became more detailed, including various other instruments, cables snaking along the floor, and eventually other musicians to adorn those empty corners left in my playful imaginations. It was all a bit of harmless fun, really, like a teenager singing into an empty toilet roll.
But the idea that I could become a performing musician and self-employed music producer has just never gone away. It is a thread that connects me to the unreal, the impossible. I haven’t studied music since I was 16. I never performed in school plays, or did really good impressions and accents. I have watched others form bands, and recognized with muted envy the face of my contemporaries in the sleeves of beautifully packaged CDs. I managed a to put together a band practice here and there, and every so often played an open mike, but ambition makes for a lonely and frustrating bedfellow. Everything I have done is tainted with amateurish inadequacy. I want to be free to do all these things on my own terms, and my imaginary thread is all I have. I grip it tightly.
Motorcycle storytelling in South East Asia is practically a competitive sport.
Family of Five: Points for mentioning the baby.
Impossible Objects: “I once saw a guy carrying a whole fridge…in front of him!”
Originals: Whole Bonsai tree nurseries, stepladders (carried horizontally), even other motorcycles, blah blah. It’s all about the flavor you choose to give it, and the timing of the story.
So I got one. There were two guys on the motorbike ahead of me. The passenger was facing backwards trailing a wheelbarrow behind them. The wheelbarrow was empty. Kinda cool. Kinda whatever.
It gets a few chuckles, but it’s just a runner-up, innit. There’s something missing. How about another man, sitting cross-legged in the wheelbarrow while it’s being towed, like a small child getting a ride in a supermarket trolley, except from his friend, backwards and on a highway? Fudgin’ A.
The problem is that it’s simply not true. I want it to be, because that would be funnier. But still the little red flag goes up.
But lying is this co-operative act. We prefer everyone to spice up their stories. It’s what we expect. In fact, we demand it. Shun the boring. Reward the exciting. Harmless fun, haha! (Until the storyteller begins to have a personal investment in others believing it, and entertainment becomes d-d-d-d-deception.
So if people start asking for story details, wave the third man goodbye. Rather be honest than desperate.
and men in this world carry the burden of decision-making. In relationships, men are seldom given the benefit of the doubt. Loyal men are given a small nod for adhering to what they believe is right, but never praise from other men for being loyal, because men don’t publicly salute each other for doing the right thing. Instead, we remain inwardly respectful, and the moral barometer is assumed to be self-orienting. Men are silent about their beliefs unless challenged, and being faithful to your long-term, long-distance girlfriend is something that you gain nothing, ever, from defending to others. So, if you’re a man who can’t remember when he decided to become so disciplined yet knows it’s simply a part of who he is now and forever, I salute you.
This is the first time I’ve ever expressed this lifelong affiliation. The colors aren’t exact, but it’s so weird finally seeing them on the page. It’s always just been like this, same for some numbers and months of the year. I don’t know why.
Monday is a maroon day. It seems sudden and jerky, like taking a deep breath. It’s decisive.
Tuesday has always been light blue and has a joyful personality.
Wednesday is dark blue and easy-going, forgiving.
Thursday is dark green, also quite headstrong and a leader.
Friday is yellow, careless yet upbeat, a friendly charmer.
White Saturday (cannot write in white here) has a spiritual, ethereal and mystical personality.
Yellow like Friday, Sunday oozes freedom but never shies away from a necessary task.