When is an artist not an artist…

There’s a draft sitting unfinished in the posts folder of my website. It’s titled I just want to be me. There’s little more than a sentence there, but I can remember clearly what I was intending to write. (I mean it was only a few weeks ago)

Proof of the draft....
I wrote a whole post about streaming numbers and what to do when you don’t get the engagement you worked so hard for. I still believe everything I wrote in there. The most important thing is to find your why, and to not try to publish what other people want, but what you want instead.

In thinking about this more and more I came to a conclusion. Though I have written tracks that others have genuinely enjoyed, at least that’s what they tell me; as an artist, I found it harder to be able to categorise my music. I do a little bit of everything. In fact, right now, I’m also sitting on a Pop Punk album that I’ve been slow chipping away at; but I digress.

I decided that I would never be able to call myself an artist, in the traditional sense. Moreover I decided that pursuing anything remotely looking like being an artist was futile, owing to the small, yet diverse nature of my catalogue. I was fine with the decision. In fact it brought me joy, it took a weight off my shoulders.

Look all around me…

I had been harbouring guilt for not composing for so many years, at wasting my talent, and not trying hard enough to make it when all around me people were actually making it. I couldn’t manage to tie myself down to any one particular genre, but some of my best friends could and were wildly successful at it. Yet I realised something. They were enjoying the music they were creating.

“...not sticking to a more narrow field of music, was one of the best decisions I made.”
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be able to call myself an artist, it was more of me trying to push myself to be something I was never intended to be. All my life I have been a genericist. I’m a jack of all trades. In my day job, as a software engineer, I’ve worked through and with so many technologies I’ve lost count. I am not a specialist.

Embracing that aspect of myself meant understanding that it would be objectively harder to market myself as an artist. But not sticking to a more narrow field of music, was one of the best decisions I made. It set me free from trying to box myself in. This is what that post was going to be about, my acceptance that I would never be an artist.

Except I realised a few weeks later that:

  • we are so used to labelling things, yet today we live in a world filled with hybrids
  • I am an artist even if I don’t conform to the stereotypical view of one

A new game plan!

Furthermore, it’s far better for me to play to my strengths. The strength of being a genericist. The strength of trying new things, experimenting without the fear of an audience thinking I’ve gone off track. I was free from trying to satisfy an audience of myself, who craved a label to pin.

“Yet I realised something. They were enjoying the music they were creating.”
And in the midst of that freedom, I became an artist. It turns out, I was just looking in all the wrong places. I was convinced that this new artist could never be a traditional artist. That there was no way for this unconventional, concept-track-toting, amateur, to do anything close to the traditional way of things.

I went away after this, wondering which direction my music should take and where I should go next. I remembered my why: to help others, and wondered how all these pieces fit. I’m a man of faith, and a good friend of mine prayed for direction for me. The next day, I was feeling very low and after some excellent advice from another very good friend, I submitted a track to the OnlyTheHost show. It got played. Someone liked it. Someone else commented that it would be a perfect fit for a certain label.

I got intrigued.

To cut to the chase: I am now signed to Monochrome Motif Records to produce an album in the style of Kintovia II, something I had always wanted to do, but never ever believed would happen. I realised then that my genericism has given me a catalogue to cater to many different tastes.

When is a fan not a fan…

I say all of this, not to brag, but as encouragement; to fulfil my why. The tracks on Kintovia II, were some of the easiest and simplest I have ever produced, save for the Main Title, (that one took ages). They were easy because I loved every single moment of the composition process. I had no idea what I was doing, I was just having fun, trying things out, and after a while it just became a track. I didn’t care about the length, the progression, I just created.

“The most important thing is to find your why, and to not try to publish what other people want, but what you want instead.”
This is an encouragement to each and every one of you struggling right now. There is an audience out there for you. Enjoy what you do, remember your why. I was going to say remember that one single person who liked a track you create. As I did, I remembered one more, and one more and one more. It’s easy to trivialise an audience sometimes, because all around us, everything seems to much bigger. Just remember, when is a fan, not a fan: NEVER!

Don’t be discouraged. Continue having fun; bringing joy to the people who love your music. If you honestly haven’t found anyone yet, fear not, it will happen: I’m sure of it. I love listening to new music - send it my way.

Work on my new album is already underway. If you liked the tracks on Kintovia II and liked Tired Bones, I aim to take you on another journey just like it. Keep at it! You ARE an artist!

Photo by Mike Tinnion