In Shadows Of Denial

Now that my 3rd year of college is finally over, I have gained two weeks of freedom before the summer semester starts. The very first thing that came to mind is, “Oh, that’s great, I finally have the time to work on all of the music I’ve been wanting to do since forever but never had the time to,” yet this cycle has gone on and on to the end of time to not much avail. Not once have I spent some sort of break feeling that I made the most out of it, or at least was satisfied of what I was able to do. I’m 21 years old now, and it’s been three years since I last felt like I was progressing in music in a direction I could grasp.

Three years too long. It’s high time I thought about this for a moment.

With the help of philosophy classes in my university, I was able to begin questioning many things around me — things I never bothered noticing the first time around. I am applying that now to my current predicament. Why is it that I always feel a need to create more and more music? When I have any amount of free time, that’s the pressure that subconsciously hits me like a brick. Yes, it is true that I have planned so many songs, albums and whatnot. Yes, I have not been delivering anything recently the way I wish to.

However, now I begin to question this: what is my true motive? What is it that I really want? Why am I pressuring myself to do this and what am I supposed to gain out of it?

An answer comes to me. It’s the same answer that had always been there since years past. Unfortunately, I’m not satisfied with it, not anymore. Art is art when it is appreciated by an audience, or so I was told. At the very beginning of this journey into music composition, my audience was my best friend who encouraged me the whole way through as I kept sending him concepts and tracks of my music. From there I moved on to the rest of the internet, as far as Newgrounds Audio and YouTube could take me. They took me pretty far — I met people and made a few connections. These experiences told me that all I had to do was find the median point between what I wanted and what the world was looking for in order to grow and succeed at the same time. Growth, success, skill, reputation, presence.

Making a name for myself.

Is this what I wanted? ’cause I don’t want it anymore.

I don’t mean to say I’m giving up on music. Nor do I want to stay in the shadows and not be recognized. It’s just that, the way that I was wanting it back then was … wrong. I had begun to lose track of myself. Whatever balance between being myself and catering to the public had been heavily skewed towards the latter. I wouldn’t allow myself to go beyond what is expected of me, sticking to composing styles that have become more and more stale with automatic, reflex, mindless usage. Trying to get a dead horse to run.

The thing that I must admit though, is that this skewed perspective is mostly my doing. I confess to having an inflated ego that tells me, “Oh no, I have to work on this album and that album since my fans are getting sooooo disappointed waiting for me. I have so much to make up for!” and some shit like that. I imagine the world is waiting for me.

The truth is, this pressure I feel … it doesn’t even exist.

While it’s true that there must be very few who are actually waiting for the music I put out, a part of me was never able to understand that I can still be human. I can fuck up. The world isn’t perfect and so aren’t people. Growing and maturing is a constant process that never, ever stops. Mistakes are there for us to learn, but they’re not for looming over your very being, haunting you day and night and never letting you be truly at peace.

I am weak. As a youthful child brimming with passion and dreams I was able to put out so many things in a small amount of time. I promised things that at the moment I feel I could reach. I felt invulnerable. Here I am, seven years later from when I really started this journey — sad, tired and self-pitying over my inability to ride a dead horse.

The silliest thing that I have done in that amount of time is to stick to that dead horse, without ever glancing to my sides and seeing that there are many other horses for me to ride. Horses I’ve never ridden before, sure, but new experiences in and of themselves.

New paths to race on. New obstacles to tackle. New joys to experience.

New ways to live.

Music had always been about expression. I forgot about that and how important it is. I know that I can never go back to how I used to be, making things like video game remixes as I did before. It’s just not possible to replicate the exact same style, specifically because as people, we learn new things. It is in those new things that we grow, and it is within that growth where you experience the best kind of success.

From hereon out, that’s what I want. That’s what I’ll aim for.

I know that the best of me lies within there.

~ by rtnario on March 30, 2014.

2 Responses to “In Shadows Of Denial”

  1. I’m proud of you man. I might not be on the same level of philosophy as you are, and I might not have been into music production for as long as you have, with my meager almost-two years, but I know very well what you speak of and recognize it quite the bit. Music is indeed about expression. To me, erery track I produce holds a story that I want to tell whatever audience I could reach. Sometimes, one friend with the kindest and most hard-hitting (in the good way) words, is enough to satisfy that need. It feels like it was worth it uploading that finished work of mine.
    I know that the way I work, and the ‘scene’ in which I thrive, success (as in, breaking through in a large scale) is almostly out of the question. An unrealistic goal. So far, few in my ‘scene’ have become somewhat famous (to getting around 50000 followers on Soundcloud, that much famous), and all of them follow the same pattern that you described to not want, as I too desire not to take upon me: they follow the herd and try to be cool with giving their spin on what already has been done.
    They continue the chain of mass production for what their audience has heard millions of times before, because they -want- to hear same old same old. I’ve been led to believe that such aberage people desire not any authenticity, or at least falsely convince that same old same old can hold such authenticity. I’m not one of those people. I take what I have to create abstract sounds and atmospheres, and using that I transform a story into an expression of sound, be it in a way someone would describe as music or in a way someone would describe as just noise. I’ve fooled myself before with the wish to get big. Nonetheless I keep it in the back of my head, just to entertain myself from time to time. Maybe to convince myself to step up my game juuuust a bit more. But it’s still pretty much not gonna happen.
    I think I got somewhat of an idea what your idea of this thought cycle is, and I admire you for it.

    Oh, and if it helps you, I also have around 10 albums (and around 200 loose projects) lying around to be worked on. Every time I open my workstation I scroll through my projects and get a little overwhelmed and, most importantly, a lot of impressed by what I’ve been able to produce thus far. However much that could be a happy thing, it makes me listen to the loops of that which I’ve already made over and over again, occasionally switching projects or tinkering a small bit on the loop, never expanding because it just doesn’t seem to happen. I’m not even too sure if it’s a lack of inspiration that is the cause. For all I know it could still be just that though.
    However, I have also noticed this: when I have a story deadset on my mind, dying to be voiced to the masses (of whichever size), I find that I more easily give shape to a whole track instead of just an impressive but nonetheless meager loop. And those kinda tracks I make are also the ones I’m usually the most proud of. When I had a depression attack last week sunday, I just felt empty. Nothing else to describe the feeling. Empty, and heavy headed, okay. I felt no desire to do -anything-, not even listening to music. Especially not having the drive to listen to my force of life, that scared me a whole lot. So what did I do?

    What I did, is I opened my workstation, made a barrage of weird noisy sounds, made them all the noisier, assigned a few knobs and buttons to knobs and buttons in the MIDI app (TouchOSC) on my iPhone, and pressed record. Brainbleed, the title I’ve given my work, is a result of an adled and temporarily disabled mind. An empty mind in need for expression. It did not only hold one of the most intense stories I’ve ever perceived with my art, it also got me out of my depressive state. You could say that I forcefully re-awakened my core.
    That’s what music can do. It doesn’t just tell people the same old same old story of “ayyyyy, summer anthem, am I cool yet?” No, it can just as much be someone opening up their heart and spilling its contents over the speakers, recording the output.

    What I’m telling with this, is pretty much the same your other connections and friends have told you, except I’m gonna word it a little different: that you should consider if that is what you want to do. Recently I’ve learned why people would make music for money. It’s a thing as you surely know. Do you focus on wanting to use your music for an income of some size, or do you focus on making music for the sake of getting your unique story out in the open?

    Good luck on finding the new road to travel, my friend. If you ever need inspiration in the process, or perhaps a little distraction of it, remember my door is always wide open. Maybe I could grant you insight nobody else would be able to provide.

    • Thank you for your thoughts, Merlin. Your story of your own journey through music doesn’t sound too far off from mine, which really helps in understanding where you’re coming from too. My own “scene” referring to the one I’m in for the most part is also quite difficult to break out of — I mean, where do I even start? I was doing something different at first, but even that which I thought was unique was the very thing that started pressuring me to deliver things in only that style. I lost the need to express myself in that style and it was replaced by expectations alone.

      I also have the problem of a huge backlog of tracks, where I can actually hear the ones that stand out and the ones where I’m doing the same thing over again not for myself but for my preconceived audience.

      What you decided to do with stories and emotions in your mind is something I should start doing more often. Too easily have I been lured in by my needs and wants from everyone who would praise my music, so much so that I’ve forgotten to make music for myself. Expression — it’s how I started, and how I should always be.

      I had never wanted to make music for financial purposes even if I am well-aware that in the real world, the need will arise. I am a programmer by ( future ) profession and am perfectly fine with balancing my own interest in programming with the needs of the organizations I will be working for. I do not want my music to be a main source of income for I personally feel it will affect the quality I have always sought to keep with each track I weave. Unfortunately, I forgot that money alone is not the only distraction — fame, recognition and reputation are around too; not necessarily bad, but can be used and abused like a drug. A drug I was taking ever since the end of Website Releases II.

      Thank you again, and I do hope I find that road I’m looking for. It really warms me to know that there are people who are willing to help me out as I start, or perhaps return, to the path of music once again. 🙂

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