A long account of why I’ve been silent PART TWO
August 7, 2011 § 3 Comments
STOPPING THE WHEEL
Of course, I knew that the only master on board was myself and that if I thought this was too much, I should just slow down, or even stop – which I eventually did, but it took me time: it’s not easy to say no to great offers, so you often just keep doing things because it seems a shame to turn them down. In a way, I guess the self-managed musician is very much like the small entrepreneur or craftsman, who puts in crazy hours not necessarily out of financial necessity or solely out of passion, but because that’s the very dynamic generated by being independent : if you’re successful at what you do, the demand gets stronger and stronger, and while a small entrepreneur can hire more people to help him, there is no substitute for me actually being on a stage – even if I get a roadie or some other person to help me, at the end of the day I either do the gig or I don’t, there is no real middle way.
I guess that ultimately, it’s a question of personality: I’m a lover of so many things in life that I’ve *always* found it hard to do just the one thing. Of course this is what grown-up life is mostly about, sacrificing some aspects of your life so that you can accomplish yourself in just one domain, but I just can’t reconcile myself to that. And as far as I’m concerned, having a serene domestic life is actually much more conducive to creating than having to follow some insane schedule which in the end has nothing to do with creation.
In the process I had to let go of a certain narcissism which is fed by touring and releasing records: you get used to seeing your name, reading about yourself, getting tons of emails and offers… I knew that by refusing all concert offers and by not releasing any record, this attention would fade out, and it was something I both feared and looked forward to. It has indeed happened, which is only natural, and was exactly what I needed in order to regain time – life’s real luxury and one without which creating is absolutely impossible.
NOT MAKING MUSIC
At first I had no desire to make music whatsoever, or even listen to it. Previously I’d always been driven by clear ideas for each album, and with “Les ondes silencieuses” I had reached the end of a cycle: I had made my dream of a modern album with baroque instruments come true. What next? I found no obvious reply to that question.
I was actually familiar with the sort of crisis I was going through, as I’d gone through the exact same crisis when I was just a student playing in my tiny studio flat. After making music with a vengeance from the age of 15 to 20, I heard This Heat’s first album, and that stopped me right in my tracks… I won’t go into the details of this particular period, but it felt exactly the same: feeling bored with my instruments, bored with the records I could listen to… The only difference is that at the time I had almost no records to listen to and owned only two instruments (electric and acoustic guitars), and of course I wasn’t a professional musician! But after a 3 year gap, I did go back to making music, and that music became my first album… So I thought that hopefully, this time too, the same thing would happen and it was just a matter of being patient.
Of course I felt quite guilty about being a musician not wanting to play music or even listen to it. Then again, I also knew that feeling guilty wasn’t exactly going to help me get the desire and inspiration back, so I decided to embark on a creative pursuit which had tempted me for many years : learning ceramics (which in turn led to stone carving – see the ceramics and sculpture pages on this site if you want to know more) .
I was also able to enjoy all the simple and priceless pleasures that life can offer once you manage to free up more time: spending lots of time in the kitchen (I’m a huge cooking fan – possibly as great a passion for me as music), reading books of all sorts, spending time outdoors, indoors in museums and at exhibitions… Last but not least, I left Paris and relocated to Spain next to the beautiful Atlantic, which brings me endless joy.
MAKING MUSIC AGAIN
And sure enough, after a while, the desire first to listen to music, then to make music gradually came back – to my immense relief, as I really felt a part of me had been missing.
Each new album seems a bigger challenge than the previous one, and this one’s no exception, especially after such a long gap. I’m still working on it and it’s been a bit of a roller-coaster, but then again making my albums has always felt that way, probably because what excites me (trying new things) is the very stuff that impedes a smooth working process (I have to try again and again, because I fail a lot before I succeed in anything)… The difference is that now, I know that getting the album ready for a certain date doesn’t matter in the long run, so I’m taking my time until I’m sure the music is ready…
Many thanks if you’ve read this far, this was a bit of a rant, but I really felt like sharing those feelings and events with you, before sharing something hopefully more important :-)
[…] created for yourself (more thoughts on this in my epic back-from-silence posts from 2011 here and here). There is no miracle cure or easy way out of this feeling, but one thing I strive for is reconnect […]
[…] There was a 6 year gap between my 3rd and 4th albums (2007-2013), and I wrote at length about this creative block and how I slowly recovered from it in a double post on my website in 2011, “A long account of why I’ve been silent” here and here. […]
[…] which I went through in a lengthy article in 2012 to explain my “long silence” (here and here).I actually only stopped making music for about a year, in 2009, but it felt eternal, leading me to […]