Just a few months ago, an idea came to me from out of nowhere (as my ideas usually do): I should start a podcast. I like listening to podcasts, I like talking to people about their music and listening to local music, and maybe I could help musicians and further the mission of SSC, so why not? I didn’t really have any expectations going into it. In fact, I wasn’t sure anyone would agree to take time out of their busy schedules to come to our studio (i.e., a room in our apartment) to open up and share the all the behind-the-scenes stuff.
But, what did I have to lose? So, I started contacting people, mostly through people I’ve met at Open Oscillator, Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls San Diego, and the Music Video Extravaganza (lesson #1: it helps to get outside your house and do things, even if you don’t know where it will lead you), and they were overwhelmingly enthusiastic and said yes. And then those people recommended other people. And other people started contacting me. And so it goes. There is no shortage of talent in this city, and I can pretty safely say I don’t think I’ll run out of people to talk to any time soon (scheduling creative people is its own struggle, but I don’t need to get into that).
I’ve learned so much by talking to each of these artists, and I’ve noticed some common themes. Like, we all struggle with marketing. I mean, some people are obviously better at it than me and find some enjoyment in the process, but whenever I asked about it, it was first met with a sigh – it’s challenging, borderline inauthentic if not perfectly executed, and exhausting. There’s a lot of work before any payoff, and it demands consistency. It rarely offers any immediate feedback, and how do you know if the thing you’re spending hours on is a complete waste of time? I wish I had answers for you here, but I do not, other than to let you know that although the best marketing looks effortless, it surely is not.
I also love that the theme of comedy came up in several podcasts (particularly Pony Death Ride, Tommy Bobcat, and MC Flow), and how that can be used to connect with audiences. Also, why does humor seem to be less respected in art than more serious pursuits? Maybe it can be used to avoid expressing “real” emotions, like Tommy and I talked about, but there is a certain truth and honesty to humor that you can’t always access with a straight face. You know what I mean?
Why do we do what we do? What drives us to make music? I really love the way Emma Byrd talked about this, even if it was in the context of music therapy, I think what she says applies to all creative people. There are kind of two sides to music – the pure uninhibited/intuitive side of music that allows us to express pure emotion, and then there’s the process of building your toolbox, setting yourself goals, and challenging yourself to meet those goals. My guests Fistfights with Wolves are certainly the types to continually challenge themselves, and that’s another wonderful thing about music – there is always something new to learn. But I also love how GrooveSquatch talks about, after having spent so many years playing top 40, it’s wonderful to just set up an instrument and play, no recording, no expectations, just to enjoy the sound.
So many of us have these big ideas and missions that go beyond playing music, whether it’s bringing electronic musicians together every other month for Open Oscillator, making movies, touring the country spreading a different kind of Christmas cheer, educating the public about Bipolar, destigmatizing cannabis, or empowering girls and women. Similarly, the concept of community came up many times – both as using music to build the community, and a community being an important asset to help you reach your goals. It’s a beautiful cycle.
Emma and Veronica both described music therapy as the use of music to achieve non-music goals. Aren’t all musicians kind of doing that? Maybe as artists we all are music therapists in our own lives (on a very personal don’t-have-the-credentials kind of way). Maybe that’s why we keep doing what we’re doing, even when we’re not making money at it, and it’s sometimes stressful and really scary, and we’re strapped for time balancing it with the rest of our hectic lives.
Plus, it’s just fun. Let’s remember why we all started in the first place.
Anyway, I’ve rambled for long enough. I’m looking forward to the next 10 episodes and I can’t wait to see how this thing grows. You all are so talented and inspiring.