How to stay original
Attempting only what has been proven creates a life of imitation.
Somebody whose work is an echo of an echo of an echo.
The real work is refusing to follow the person who went before you. Doing your art without a map, accepting moments of profound disorientation along the way, but trusting that you’ll arrive at a place that’s yours and yours alone.
When I went into the studio to record my latest album, I informed my production engineer that I planned to record all fourteen songs in one day.
He was flabbergasted. No musician had ever laid down that many tunes in one session. Most people, he said, took a few days to master one song.
And that’s when my originality buzzer went off. Because anytime I hear somebody say those three dangerous words, well, most people, it reminds me that my job is to not be most people. Originality is too much a part of my constitution to allow that.
And so, regardless of what worked in the past, regardless of what the statistics show, anytime I begin a new project, I don’t want to know what the last musician did when they were in the studio. Because I don’t need their style infiltrating my vision. I want to stand at the foot of the unblazed trail and go wreck some shop.
Koestler observed this distinction in famous book is about inspiration, innovation and creativity, which was the first major treatment of this subject in the twentieth century. He said:
The measure of an artist’s originality is the extent to which his selective emphasis deviates from the conventional norm, and establishes new standards of relevance. All great innovations which inaugurate a new era, movement or school, consist in sudden shifts of a previously neglected aspect of experience, some blacked out range of the existential spectrum. The decisive turning points in the history of every art form compel us to revalue our values and impose new sets of rules on the eternal game.
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.
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