Here’s my newest favorite show/site MakeWeirdMusic.com, one that features interviews with unique legendary musicians with genuine talent, uniqueness, musicianship (be it composition-wise and/or playing techniques) – musicians playing in genres that aren’t exactly perceived as ‘mainstream’, and might be considered as ‘weird’ by the general public.
Their recent interview with Steve Vai was another spectacular one, particular the first portions of it when he said that if you need to ask/question yourself why you’re making music, then don’t do it, and that you need to write as if you don’t have any expectations of anyone ever going hear the music, if your ultimate goal is to be true to yourself and sounding unique.
This resonated with me because that’s the way I started to look at things after my first album myself. While I was proud that I was able to release a record on my own and I did some experimentation with playing styles that I wasn’t yet comfortable with, there were a number of pop-ish songs that I was not entirely genuine to myself, because I was constantly second guessing and wasn’t sure whether or not an audience would like my writing. When it was time to make the second record, I figured that be hell with it. Who knows who will ever listen to my music out there and if I don’t have work that I could stand behind and be fully proud of, then it’s not worth the financial budgets, months and years of blood, sweat and tears (and other sacrifices) to make my records. Unlike artists that fully depend their surviving finances on creating music that serves the liking of their audience, I have the advantage of having a day job that would supplement that portion. That advantage does matter… especially since I don’t really have an audience, don’t have my own band and have the ability to play all the different instruments in a live setting (there are ways around that, but you get my point), or have the same number of hours in a day to practice/play and get better on my craft. It takes me longer to mix (or write for) a record since I’m only able to fully immerse during my days off work, and rate of my releasing records and incoming generated from those don’t really justify the recording gear that I get and session players that I hire. It’s almost impossible to come up with something that’s truthfully 100% unique and sounding musical at the same time. As I remember my favorite bassist Bryan Beller has said many times that we’re all sums of what we listen to – and I fully agree. But coming out with something that’s truthful to yourself isn’t exactly easy and does take a bit of effort, but the results are so, so, *SO* worth it when everything just clicks and the ideas that you have built on sound the most exiting and genuine at the same time. It’s like having coming up with the coolest cross-over move in basketball or craziest thread-the-needle-unexpected-assist. I get asked all the time by doubters why I even bother making records. I think I have my answer right there.
Ranting aside, if you’re still reading… do check out MakeWeirdMusic.com’s interview with Steve Vai.
In case you have missed the one with Mike Keneally, which I think was the best interview with any I have watched ever (and I watch TONS of interviews of my favorite artists.. total fanboy/junkie) – you can check it out here. The site has video/audio/stream/download options available.
Offtopic: I also found this video of Mr. Keneally on youtube playing a number of Zappa songs. You can generally find many of the youtube videos of him, but many are rough bootleg quality and don’t always exactly sound or show the real genius in that man. I feel this one here really shows a cool glimpse of that. That’s just on the guitar, and he’s equally outrageous on the piano too.