MUSIC ADVICE: Material
Everything is always 20/20 and crystal clear in hindsight. If I only knew then what I know now. This is a feeling we will always have in life, as we experience different things, and learn from them. As a musician one thing I had learned, was to have a respect for is the creative process. While at Berklee College of Music, the respected songwriting teacher, Pat Pattison, had said to us that we should stop spending so much time promoting ourselves e.g. on social networks, and sit down and write songs. He emphasized that writing is a craft, and that improvement will only occur if you write a lot. He said your great songs will be few and far apart, so you have to write many so you can weed them out of the haystack (paraphrase).
I believe this is where many artists suffer. They don’t have enough material to even paint a clear picture of who they are as artists. Especially in the Jamaican music market, many an artist spend so much time flitting from riddim to riddim that the mark that they make on each quite varying riddim, is still not enough to set them apart, or create a clear vision of what they represent. Some come to a late realization that they should try to get what is in their head into a tangible music form, and it is only then that their true inner artistry and creativity comes alive. Whether this requires asking a pianist or guitar player for help, it is a good start, especially if you don’t play an instrument.
I have to thank my music education for helping me to identify chords, chords sounds, write sheet music, appreciate the textures of sound and the layers of an arrangement. All these things help to create the music in my head, which I can now articulate on a piano or even on a piece of paper, in a standard language that many musicians can understand. I now appreciate having an artistic direction, both musically, and as an individual. I am now focusing on creating more and more material that represents M.E., then filtering though it, tweaking it, and making it the best I can.
Creating sound musical material will be the cornerstone of the development of your career. All the artistes we respect now, we respect because of what they have to say, Adele, Drake, Lil Wayne, Protoje, Damian Marley. Whoever it is that you like, a large part of your respect for them has to do with their ability to express themselves in a creative, non-cliche way. They have taken the time to write good songs. Songs that represent them and communicate in a genuine fashion.
With that said, as an artist, you need to look into yourself and what you want from your music, where you want your music to reach, what effect you intend for it to have, and to truly write and create from an honest and authentic place. There is nothing wrong with trying to create catchy cliche ‘hits songs’ either. If that is the direction you choose then so be it. Some of those songs do stand the test of time, but many have lifespans as long as their cliche subject material.
My music advice to you today is to take time to create sound and stable material. It will be your bread and butter now, and your pension plan later.
I am Mario Evon, Jamaican Reggae-Soul Singer/Songwriter, Berklee College of Music graduate, music biz junkie, and I made it to the final round of Showtime at the Apollo without being booed. R.I.P. Adam Yauch #BeastieBoys