I’m not doing any music at the moment, and that annoys me mightily.

So the builders are in the apartment below me, which is undergoing extensive renovation. And they’re drilling and hammering and making noise all day. And on top, I’ve got a scary big job to complete.

That’s why, apart from my usual procrastination, I’m not doing anything for 50/90 right now. The ideas are there, but it’s working on them where I find myself lacking.

50/50 2015 is about to start

… and I’m woefully unprepared. I haven’t changed my guitar strings, my fingers aren’t used to steel strings (I’ve been playing predominantly concert guitar in the last couple of months), I haven’t practiced much, my creative muscles are out of training… and on top, I’ll take the opportunity to spend the weekend with my girlfriend. (I also hope that her place in the Black Forest is a little more bearable than searingly hot Freiburg.) But perhaps I’ll have the opportunity to record some quick sketches on the piano, throw down some lyrics or make some a cappella sketches. I also hope to borrow some books from her :)

I’ll go where my muses lead me, this time trying to see through longer and more demanding songs (especially lyrically, but also songs with more complex arrangement, more voices, more deliberate use of effects than my usual slapped-together guitar, voice, maybe drums), but I also want less stress, less getting bogged down, more letting go. I’ll try and not get too hell-bent on winning.

My artistic flame has somehow died down to a faint ember in the past few months while I was trying to get my everyday life ordered. It still isn’t ordered and feels fairly provisory. So this is what I most hope for: stoking those embers and rekindling them to a mighty, bright, glorious blaze; trust that I am Good Enough and worthy of calling myself a musician.

I officially have a special brain.

I have been a slow worker ever since I can remember. I got through school by making use of my natural intelligence. I got into trouble in university because when left to myself, I’m not terribly good at Getting Shit Done and if I don’t employ a host of tricks, hacks and strategies, I suck at time management. I tend to be late, and I’ve got zero sense of time. I’m a night owl. But somehow I managed to graduate.

When I started my first job, things stopped going so well. Continue reading

Small update on the last post

So, in my last post, I mentioned a bad job that was threatening me. I managed to avoid that, which was, as one acquaintance told me, quite a feat!

The situation might repeat, and I’m still struggling badly with time management. On the other hand, that music editing job becomes more and more satisfying, and less and less I want to go back into corporate work.

On my personae.

Now I haven’t been doing music for… like, a month or so? Apart from some attempts to get into regular guitar practice, that is. But I’m totally out of my musician headspace and out of poetic creativity even more.

I am still stumbling, falling, getting up, stumbling on, rinse and repeat with my professional life. There’s the perspective of getting stuck in another soul-eating dead-end job I don’t want (I’ll probably know if I must go there in the next 1-2 weeks). The Jobcenter imposes on me to scramble and do everything I can to get regular employment, while the thing I’d want to do is stand still, reconsider everything and start again, but this time in a different direction. One thing that has become clear for me is that marketing, especially online marketing, is ripe with environments that are toxic for me, and that it’s not the field I will excel and thrive in.

I don’t want to use this blog post for lamenting. Instead, I’d like to ponder on one observation: aspects of my personality and how they relate to different aspects of my life.

Somehow my musician identity feels not fully formed yet, but as deeply buried under everyday grind it may be now, it is there. I can feel it like the sun behind clouds. It’s not just who I am in my music. It’s who I am when I give a high priority to my musical creativity, to making music and to being in a good shape for singing, playing guitar, composing and making poetry, mentally as well as physically, and when I care about developing as an artist.

Somehow I feel like I don’t deserve to be that person, or that I’m not allowed to, or that if I am that person, I won’t be able to cope with the demands that making a living or getting through bureaucracy place on me.

So instead, I mostly choose to put on a persona of a rational, disciplined person who gets all the stuff done, adheres to conventional logic, does a conventional full-time day job to win her bread and makes music in her free time, is tough enough to put up with a little discomfort, makes reasonable choices, does not lose herself in dreams and can pull of some feats of discipline, ready to discard perceptions that don’t seem reasonable (thus often losing contact with her gut feeling) and keep out everything she doesn’t see as practical or necessary. It’s a well organized and high-functioning persona too, a persona that is concerned with getting through everyday life.

I need this persona to navigate my carreer/work situation, but it feels way too dominant in my life, and at the same time, letting go of it, not using it as my default approach to things feels unsafe, as if my life might get totally out of control. Unfortunately, the saying “if your only tool is a hammer, you will perceive every problem as a nail” applies.

My “artist” persona is different, of course. Much more intuitive and even impulsive, prone to act upon emotion and gut feeling, dreamer, utopian and visionnaire, with fine and alert senses. One who brings in butterflies and flowers and colours, warmth and sunlight, one who wants to open doors to the depth of the soul and the phantastic, mystic and playful child at the same time, one who is concerned with the big issues of life and what matters in the end.

I miss giving this persona space and time. It’s like it hasn’t even had the opportunity to develop fully.

And then there may be more aspects of myself that I don’t even know or acknowledge.

By the way, that freelance mini-job in music editing is still awesome and rewarding.

What’s going on.

I’m totally out of my routine – which is ironic, as the mini-part time day job I’ve just begun (which will, hopefully, grow beyond the “mini” some day) is, in part, about music editing and music engraving. It feels good to do something related to musicology again! But I’ve spent the last weeks in perpetual upheaval. No change in sight!

After my last post, I kept listening up and down the metal part of my media collection for some days. Somehow, I was listening for what it is that I want in music in those favorite records of mine. What is the music I’d make if I had no restrictions – time, equipment, abilities, knowledge, even co-musicians – like? I still guess I couldn’t write down a definitive answer in words.

Now I’ve got some time to breathe again (before I must confront my fear of anything administrative again). I guess it will be some weeks until I hit record on my DAW, and on top it’s November, which has developed to be my “writing month” in the last few years. I’m trying to carve out time to be a musician anyway.

Back from the dead?

Somehow my musicianship seems to be buried these days under everyday life issues: my livelihood is on shifting ground, I just begin to find a clue what to do with my messed-up professional life (and it will take loads of work, but might make me happier than being in a 9to5 job I don’t belong in), and I savour the available time with my girlfriend (yes, I’m in a relationship for just over half a year now), and then there is a health issue I need to take care of or it will aggravate again and grow really chronic.

But making music, especially songwriting and -recording, regular practice, getting out of my rut* and into the zone/headspace where meaningful things happen … all these things somehow got thrown under the bus in the last months.

And then there’s moments when some music comes along and rips right through this ocean of worries I find myself in, punches me in the face, grabs me by the scruff of the neck and screams in my face: “THAT’S WHAT YOU’RE MEANT TO DO WITH YOUR LIFE: SING!!! MAKE MUSIC!!!” Like the music of In Legend.

I just pre-ordered their upcoming album “Stones at Goliath”. Makes me excited every time I listen to the previews:

Feels like being brought back from the dead.

I understand that there must be times like these. Times where other dimensions of life need to be taken care of, even if I miss my musician self and even if it feels really crappy and all I can do is maintain my voice and some basic technical skills on the guitar. I’ll be patient with myself in the next few months, and hope that the time until I can create room for my musician self to re-surface and be more present won’t be too long.

* I dislike bashing the comfort zone. You need one. No matter how challenge is necessary for growth: You need a strong, safe foundation to depart from and something you can come home to, and being so constantly out of it that you forget how that feels like can’t be healthy. I’ve been there, and it harmed me.

Back for 50/90.

Yeah, I’ve been silent for some months…

It looked like my life was going down the drain (and my job prospects still look dreary), and I continue to fall out of my practicing routine. When I do practice, my guitar skills seem nearly where I left them, and my voice is back to amazing shape within a few days.

But I’ve seldom started 50/90 or FAWM so uninspired and without any plan. I’m going to use this as a learning opportunity, just to see what I can do without feeling super inspired and hugely motivated. Because even if I’m not super inspired, making music and making songs is still huge fun, and I still want to work on that craft side of my songwriting.

on the bright side…

Maybe I’ve been overlooking some of my achievements: I definitely made progress in the lyrics department since last year. I now write lyrics with consistent meter and rhymes more easily, and with more conscious craftsmanship. Playing with a click, to a drum track or to a metronome begins to be easier (although rhythmic exactness is still an issue).

Maybe I just need to go with the flow and be a little more friendly and appreciating to my own creations. Maybe, instead of lamenting my many shortcomings, I should also look at the things that do work.


[crosspost from my FAWM profile page]
Well, I know comparing yourself to others is counterproductive, but nevertheless: I’m a little frustrated and discontent with my own creations. There are few in this FAWM with which I’m really content. And others are doing such profound and wonderful things…
So what if I don’t produce any “keepers” or even any play-me-agains? I’ll still be learning.

But I’d love so much to create something lasting. Something I’ll sing for/with friends around the fire. Something profound and beautiful.
I can’t force it, so I’ll carry on and try to create the room where the miracle can happen.

I’ve got some ambitioned things on my plate, and I’m plodding along with them on the “90% transpiration” part. Sigh.