Archive for Creativity

I’m back. Kinda…

Posted in Me Oh My with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2014 by Gideon K
Van Surfing. On a van.

Van Surfing. On a van. Because I’m cool, that’s why.

 

One of the things I’ve been meaning to do for a little while is start blogging again. Not in the same way as I used to, but not to abandon it completely. The problem for me was thinking of a way in which I could get back into it in a way that fit into everything else I’ve been doing (some of which were the reasons I stopped blogging).

 

Well, I’ve decided to start writing here again, but also maintain a separate blog for my band Black Hay (here). I need some place where I can talk about all that stuff in an appropriate way that doesn’t end up looking like my blog here is just “Check outmyband.com”

 

Why did I stop blogging? Why did I leave it alone for a while? Simply because I felt like after a certain point, I was just writing about creativity rather than being creative. Also, I think the way I was going about doing my songwriting challenge was quite harmful for me in certain ways.

It did bring out some good things though. I started writing a lot of poems as a result of being so fed up of songwriting, and that has altered the way I write songs now, I think for the better.

 

I originally started this blog as a means of emptying out my head of various ideas. I was trying to flush out everything I knew, or thought I knew, and share it to see if it stood up. But more than that I wanted to see what resources I had left once I found I was empty of all the ideas and notions I had accumulated.

 

For the most part I think I’ve done that now, and will still post something if I feel it has to be talked about, but in terms of my priorities it’s a bit of a way down the list.

 

I had another brief experiment with that one-a-week song challenge, with slightly different parameters, and it went very well without me writing about it. The aim was just to get a song and song demo completed by the end of each week. Some record of how the song is played and song, even if it’s just guitar and vocal. That works better for me than talking about the process of writing, or trying to, which can be more harmful than useful I’ve found.

 

I’ve made what feels like a lot of creative progress in the last year or so, which I will get on in due time, but right now I’m just writing to say hi and see who’s still listening.

 

Hope all is well and groovy with you all.

 

G

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Songwriting Challenge Week 10

Posted in Creativity, Songwriting Challenge 2012 with tags , , , , , , , on May 14, 2012 by Gideon K

I know I haven’t been good at keeping this blog on a weekly basis, but they seem to go by with so much happening and I’ve been working hard trying to get all my writing done…

 

I’ll try and summarise as best I can.

 

I didn’t get much done as I was concentrating on mixing and trying to finish my EP to a satisfactory degree, and spent the weekend in the countryside with a friend I hadn’t seen for 5 years, so no writing got done then.

 

Regarding this idea of hard work, I thought I’d include a quote from James Ellroy’s brilliant ‘L.A. Confidential’ which I’ve just finished reading. It was a stupendously captivating and immersive reading experience. I had great difficulty putting it down at all.

 

‘I’m working hard at it.’

‘Work harder. Good efforts are for schoolboys, results are what counts. Go to it, gentlemen.’

 

The character who said it was a bastard – most of them are, but he had a point.

 

Also, I saw an excellent talk by the mighty John Cleese about creativity which is highly recommended, and I have been following his 90 min guideline since. This video is pretty much a must-see.

 

 

I have made a start at recording presentable basic demos of the songs I have accumulated on this challenge so far and will be putting them up on my soundcloud page soon. I decided enough paying lip-service to it all, it is time to actually display some of it for proof.

 

The Artist’s Way: Week 2

Posted in Creativity, The Artist's Way with tags , , , , , , on August 21, 2011 by Gideon K

Days I did my morning pages: 7/7

 

Artist Date: Yes, but I’m not saying what it was – it’s personal. But it was good, helpful, and filled up the well a little bit.

 

 

One of the things I have noticed since I started the course, and talking about it with other people, is that I keep finding out people I know who have either done the course or are fascinated by it. It has been interesting talking to people about this. They either say that the period they were doing the course was a very productive and creative time for them, or that rather than create, it forced them to deal with a lot of inner issues.

 

Either way, it seems everyone who has done it or dipped into it has taken something positive from it.

 

One of the things I need to sort out is making sure I get enough sleep. I’ve been working part-time and almost full-time for the last couple of weeks and although I’ve been getting up early for that, and earlier so that I can do my pages, I have not been going to bed any earlier most nights. Apart from not being sustainable, I’m breaking one of the points of my agreement I signed at the start of the course about taking care of myself which includes getting enough sleep. Up til the first half of this week I’ve not been doing well on the sleep front. Burning the candle at both ends, and taking a blow-torch to the middle…

 

On Thursday I tried two new things; I woke up later than intended, and simply did not have time to do morning pages at the more leisurely pace I have been thus far. I realised it was time to try pure stream of consciousness and to see just how fast I could get though the 3 pages. I think this is a step forward in some way as the effect was that pretty much the same sort of things came out, but faster, and with the odd random brain-flash in there for texture. Only my writing was less legible, but so what?

I will definitely be doing more of that. Still took me the better part of 25 mins from start to finish. I’m going to race myself and see how fast I can do the pages – just to keep it interesting.

 

Also later on that day, when reading through the basic principles and specifically about God creating through me as an artist I had a reactionary train of thought. I’d always imagined my muse as a group of lesser angels – grumpy and moody like me, a little reluctant that they got lumped with me – why couldn’t they have been assigned to one of the big boys? My tongue is not far from my cheek here, but this idea filled me with grit and determination to always prove them wrong. The spirit of ‘fuck you’ has guided me to many places. Even so, I realised that no matter how detached, devolved, demoted or delegated I may think my muse might be, it still comes from God as the source. And both realising and accepting this, I feel closer to it. No matter how close I might be to god, I’m ready for an upgrade. These angels of mine better earn their wings where I’m going. I’m ready, and I’m moving up the food chain.

 

I have had interesting changes of consciousness. It’s only been a week since last Sunday but it feels a lot longer than that. With the morning pages I find that towards the end of the second page I have cleared out any thoughts that were just blocking me, and by the third page I start surprising myself with realisations and clarity of thought regarding things that had remained mysterious up until then.

I am becoming more positive, convinced of the righteousness of the creative path and closer to something divine almost. It’s as if music is my religion, and I’m becoming much more religious.

 

I like it.

The Essence of Creativity

Posted in Creativity with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2011 by Gideon K

Photo by Pia Anttila

What is being creative about? Does it mean anything?

 

For me, a lot of it comes down to playfulness. You don’t have to be at your desk writing, or playing your instrument to be creative. It’s the time in between your ‘designated creative hours’ that really tests you.

 

How can you do your food shopping, clean your house, talk to your bank manager in a creative way?

 

What can you do in your everyday life to avoid simply going through the motions?

 

“I always make sandwiches with butter and jam. Today I’m going to switch it around.”

 

“I always walk this way home. Today I’m going to try a different route.”

 

One of my favourite examples is a mate of mine, who in order to liven up his house-cleaning pretends he’s a serial killer trying to ‘hide the evidence’. Brilliant. I love things like that.

 

My brother and I have lots of games we play like this when we’re out anywhere. Simple things sometimes, like deciding to walk up the stairs when we get out of the tube station, instead of taking the lifts. The lift just seemed like the easiest, most obvious, path of least resistance.

 

One day, I’ll be too old to take the stairs and so I’m going to do it now while we can.

 

I also love how other people creative in their own different ways. I remember one day I was walking down Oxford Street around sunset with a friend of mine. I was too lost in my own thoughts, or just looking at passing faces to notice, but she pointed out that the clouds in front of us had the shape of a camel.

 

I would’ve never noticed it without her, because I wasn’t looking, and I was just taking things as they were. Now there’s a time and a place for everything, but she was being more creative or imaginative than I was at that moment.

 

It’s about indulging your child and ignoring any part of you that says ‘you’re too old for that’, ‘that’s silly’, or what will other people think?

 

 

To me, the essence of creativity is in things like these examples. Looking at things differently than your habits dictate, how you interact with your surroundings, and negotiating your own reality.

 

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”Mahatma Gandhi

 

In other words, you ARE part of your own creative work. How you live is part of it.

You’re A Lifer

Posted in Creativity with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 30, 2011 by Gideon K

There are moments in life where you feel like you’ve taken a step in a certain direction, or just looked around knowing that there are certain other paths it is now impossible for you to take.

I read this in an interview with Mike Patton for Filter Magazine some years ago and it resonated deeply with me.

“I can’t remember the exact moment or the day but it sort of happened over time. I think you realise it more when you see how you fit into the scheme of the real world, when you come home and realise that everybody’s out partying on Friday night and you’re home working without even thinking about it… without trying, without forcing yourself, and realising, you know, that it isn’t work, that it’s you. It’s just you and there’s not a lot you can do about it.

It’s a knee-jerk battling reaction and for me it’s expensive, but I just had to do it. And I will do it, and I’m lucky enough to be making a living doing it so I can do it all the time. But you know, you realise that yeah, it’s no joke anymore, or if nothing else the joke’s on you and you’re in this. You’re a lifer.”Mike Patton

There’s not really much for me to add to this. It captures that feeling when you’ve found that thing in your life that nothing else compares to.

Maybe I’m just working my mind progressively further down one particular funnel, but I can’t imagine a point in my life where music, writing and generally expressing my creativity is not a central feature of my existence. It becomes more of a necessity for me on an almost daily basis.

If I hadn’t known it before, my realisation came in recording in Ireland last summer.

No matter what time I went to bed in the night, I was up the next day at 7. No alarm, nothing, just awake, alert, ready to GO.

I was working 12, 14 hour days, fully concentrating on what I was doing.

I would go running round the grounds of the castle some mornings, breathing mountain air, feeling alive, doing what I was supposed to be doing.

Compare this experience with the drudgery of waking up and forcing yourself to get out of bed to go to a job you hate doing. Not even because it’s such a bad job – it’s just not what you were built for.

“A man’s work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened.”Albert Camus

They say every action we take, where we end up and what we do are down to our choices, but when my body and my whole being react like this and give me such obvious hints about what will lead me to happiness and fulfillment in life, what choice do I have?

Other than the one about whether I step up to the plate and take it or not….

Certainty vs Uncertainty

Posted in Creativity with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 6, 2011 by Gideon K

Who actually wants to know for sure what consequences an action will have?

“The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next.” – Ursula K. Le Guin

Personally I get a thrill out of not knowing exactly how my life is going to end up, so I have a kind of rule of thumb in terms of keeping myself occupied, entertained and excited.

In any given scenario there is usually a point at which you have to make a decision about how either to act, or not act.

Example: You’re walking down the street and you see someone with a funny hat or a really cool pair of shoes.

Option 1: Don’t say anything and carry on.

Option 2: Talk to them, tell them whatever you were thinking and make use of that little observation your mind has given you.

If you don’t say anything, you know exactly what is going to happen – you’re both going to keep walking, and your day will carry on where it was going.

Option 1 = Certain

If you do start talking to them, you don’t know what is going to happen. You may find out that you both get along very well. You may find out that the person is a total prick. You may just share a brief moment of laughter, or perhaps nothing at all.

Option 2 = Uncertain

This is a very simple example. But utilizing it can help turn seemingly everyday drudgery into something more… adventurous.

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Let me put a disclaimer here that before taking the uncertain option you should take into account whether the outcome will be either:

a)      Be likely to cause offense and discomfort

b)      Put you or anyone in danger

c)      Contrary to your principles or moral standards

ie you don’t HAVE to tell someone they smell bad, just because they happen to… – it might hurt their feelings.

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How does this relate to creativity?

Well say you’re writing a certain type of song, with a certain kind of feel. You get to a point in the song where the obvious thing would be to end with a bridge and a repeated chorus.

You know what that would sound like before you’ve even written it. That’s the certainty option.

Why not try something else? Try changing the tempo of the song. If it’s a rock song, make it switch at the end to a waltz or a tango. Slow it down, speed it up. The worst that could happen is that it could sound crap and you just move on to the next thing.

Break out of your comfort zone. Certainty is boring.

“Uncertainty and expectation are the joys of life. Security is an insipid thing.” – William Congreve

I hope you find this useful.

Do You Remember the First Time?

Posted in Songwriting with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2011 by Gideon K

Do you remember writing your first song you felt happy with?

I must’ve been a late starter. My first fully formed song that I was comfortable enough to play only came when I was 17.

It was a lazily hot afternoon. I was supposed to be in my room studying for my school end of year exams, but my guitar was standing against the wall leering seductively at me. My cheap, sticker covered, black and white Encore strat copy, making silent promises…

My first serious girlfriend

Happily and naively I picked it up, plugging into the amp and instinctively started playing these two chords – clean first, and then I kicked on the distortion and the hairs all over my teenage head stood up.

I started singing a melody on top, and words came out. I just kept playing and then before I knew it I had me a song. Magic.

I call music the bittersweet curse. When you write something and you’re all alone and you go “Ahh!” Just know that the second that feeling is over, you’re doomed to face it again and do it again. It’s never over. That’s why I love it, because it’s so mean to me.” – Josh Homme

I’d been coming up with riffs, chord sequences and ideas before this, and taping them on a little cassette player. Likewise with lyrics, scribbling down bits of lines, phrases and some awful early attempts at songs and poems.

This time however, it all came together. I don’t know why. All I know is that everything felt different.

You know that bit in Inception, where the girl has gone into the dream world for the first time? One of them says she’ll come back – because reality just won’t be enough anymore.

I felt alive in a way I never had before. Every time I’m writing and I feel like I’ve finished something, it’s a similar feeling, but never the same – a blessing and a curse.

Needless to say my school revision for the rest of the day went out the window…

So what’s the story of your first “Aah!” moment?