Sunday, 24 February 2008

Looming deadlines

I think it's fair to say that if there are any underlying themes to this blog, one of the recurring ones is that of my attempts to reconnect with things which have been of fundamental importance to me, but which I feel I've lost touch with over the course of the last few years.

Music is one of those things and I've had, at certain times, some success in busying myself with the process of playing, writing and recording music again. Or, to put it a little more accurately, the process of mangling sounds.

Well something has cropped up which is very much the kick up the arse I need: I don't want to go into any detail at the present time because it would somehow feel like tempting fate (that's really without any rational basis but I'll allow myself to be led by it all the same), but basically I've agreed to the offer to play at a venue in a few short weeks from now.

Suddenly, what this has meant in real terms is that since Thursday I've spent several hours hunched over my laptop and monitor speakers recording, arranging, editing, layering, deleting, cutting and pasting, fretting, and generally being utterly absorbed in the whole process. It's been easier to spend the time doing this while I've been away from work, but now that there's a deadline against which I feel like I'm going to be judged, it now feels like I can't afford not to keep myself involved.

And it's great. I've had a break from it today because I'm giving my poor ears a rest, but it's reminded me just how much all of this used to keep me occupied on a daily basis. The main challenge at the moment is to ensure I've enough usable material to perform, but what I've really noticed over the last week or two is how my thinking has changed as a result of having something to work towards: no putting things off, I have to keep coming back to it, trying different things, reworking and re-editing, obsessively listening back over and over.

Actually, obsessively is a key word in all this. I was involved in a remixing project a few years ago and once I'd set to it I very quickly found myself rearranging the furniture in my flat in accordance with the way I was working. On other occasions, with particular ideas going through my mind, I might get up in the middle of the night to listen back to something or to change an aspect of it, and only then would I be able to settle back to sleep. I can feel that obsessiveness coming back to some small degree, and it's welcome in the sense that it's closely allied to something constructive and creative.

The main thing is, I'm starting to achieve a sense of continuity with what I'm working on, and that feels very healthy. It's also a balance against the things I'm pissed off with, and as such is much-needed. I'm already having the occasional stab of anxiety: what if things go wrong? Well the fact that things will be actually going in the first place is enough at the moment.

I hope to post more on this as things progress. But it makes me reflect on just how stupidly negative I can be: in general, when I've felt like work or other things are grinding me down, I manage to think of all sorts of disincentives for working on music (or anything else creative for that matter): yet on the occasions when I've actually made a start, suddenly I feel like I'm in my element and that everything is all right with the world again.

17 comments:

lavenderblue said...

trousers!
That IS good....
you will be magnificent.xx

trousers said...

Oh I hope so lav, I hope so..

nmj said...

hey trews, i wish i could see you perform! & obsessivness & creativity go together, no escape, i'm afraid...

nmj said...

i meant obsessiveness! see, i couldn't let my wee harmless mistake go unchecked.

But Why? said...

I love the flurry of directed activity that accompanies a looming deadline. It's so productive. Hurrah for that!

P.S. Yes, I realise Bud is horrible - I didn't take the job for precisely that reason. (What's the point of having a beer allowance if you have to drink Bud?)

anticant said...

Remember Anna Russell? "As Shakespeare said, 'If music be the food of love, play on...' He doesn't say on what, but I think it's a marvellous idea!"

trousers said...

True enough, nmj, they do go hand in hand. It's not surprising I can be a moody so-and-so when I don't have enough creative outlets. In terms of performing, I'm not sure how much there will be to actually see: at the moment I'm hoping I can get an armchair onto the stage so that I can sit there with the laptop and a drink like I do at home :)

Definitely, but why?, and if nothing else I've been far more productive the last couple of weeks than I have in a long time. Hope I can sustain it. Oh, and good on you for sticking to your principles. On the other hand, I don't suppose it's easy to find, say, an "old Peculier" hat!

Trouble is, anti, I always remember Les Dawson: "If music be the food of love, hang on while I get my banjo..."

B said...

Glad things are going well! And yes, deadlines are great. I'd never get anything done without them :)

zola a social thing said...

Damn it Trousers you make me feel guilty and lazy.
Maybe I feel envy.
Yes, damn you, I want some of that back too.

But Why? said...

After a small amount of internet research, I'd have to agree. Mind you, I did find this one, but it wouldn't be very helpful in keeping the sun out of my eyes...

Queen Vixen said...

Thats great news. What a challenge - and such a creative goal. Good on yer and best of luck - fancy anymore in the audience, sure we could get some blog groupies together

DJ Kirkby said...

Great news, would love to ocme and listen, though the chance of you living close enough to us for it to be feasible is slim! You just described in this post, what I feel like when I am absorbed in writing, absorbed, obsessed, good descriptors....

zola a social thing said...

This all sounds a bit like the ideal fuck ( sorry shag is the PC word).
But I like it.

Turtle said...

I have a deadline at the end of the week. I still haven't started the work. I always feel that leaving things until the very last minute tremendously focusses my efforts.

The adrenaline kick is an added bonus.

trousers said...

Thank you b. Time was when I didn't need deadlines: I do now though, obviously..

zola, I must be doing something right if you of all people are feeling even a twinge of envy!

but why?, that's quite marvellous (I looked for similar for Bishop's Finger but there are no such rewards). Those Old Peculier gift boxes look very alluring too...

qv, thank you very much. I'll let you know if I feel brave anough to invite anyone: normally I've shied away from doing such things because I allow it to put pressure on me!

dj, no problem. Plus I'm sure it won't be too many people's cup of tea, this may well become apparent if I write more about what I'm working on. I wouldn't want anyone to travel and be bitterly disappointed/brutalised etc.

zola, does it? And there was me thinking your mind never worked like that :) Glad you like it all the same.

turtle, I wish I could leave things to the last minute, but I can't. I feel like I'll be winging it as it is. I do have mild control-freak tendencies when it comes to things like this, so I have to be at least reasonably prepared in advance.

szwagier said...

See? I told you a deadline would help.

trousers said...

True enough szwag, though I think there's an element of nuance to this - in the sense that a deadline for a performance is definitely a motivating factor (not least the fear element), whereas a deadline to (say) complete a remix or some other such project still wouldn't do it for me. Well maybe it would now that I'm more into the swing of things again..