This year marks 10 years since I first picked up my main instrument: The Guitar.
What was my mind-set at the time? And why did I make the decision to become a musician?
I think you can easily forget that as you get caught up in the instrument. And if you like me, and so many others, make it your profession to play guitar, this changes you too. Whenever I see an artist or a band make a big deal about their “numbers”, or bands un-strategically complain on their FB about lack of sales, despite great FB numbers, the only thing I think to myself is: “These guys have been in the music-biz for too long”.
Why do I think that?
Because you don’t give a shit about your God damn numbers when you first pick up the guitar. You literally couldn’t care less. You are passionate and you just dive into something completely uncertain and reckless based on your passion for music and your profound love for your instrument.
DON’T GET ME WRONG! When people pay for my music I see this as the ultimate compliment! (You can check out my music here btw: http://www.commandermusic.com/store.html :P). My dream was always to make a living of my music, getting away with doing my thing \m/
MY POINT IS: that if you limit your creativity to what you think might sell, or cover music that you don’t necessarily love, but rather cover it out of cynicism. Then you are not being a true artist. If you want to create or do something that is real, you truly have to follow your heart and this is the dilemma of any true artists. If you are lucky you might stumble upon something that works, ideally something that is profitable but creative enough to be unique. To be honest…I would compare being creative to either playing Russian roulette or playing dart blindfolded, throwing all the arrows at once hoping you will hit “jackpot”. If this isn’t your mentality when you create or make artistic decisions ( mark my words, ARTISTIC DECISIONS not business decisions), then you aren’t really true or honest.
As I said, this is the paradox of being true…should you risk everything by doing a bold new move? Should you risk loosing old fans by moving in a completely different musical direction?Should you risk being controversial? Should you risk offending people, even people who could have liked you if they met you and got to know you? Should you not care if a video gets flagged?
Because I had a music video that did get flagged…and well…it didn’t really sell now did it? It didn’t exactly open any new doors either. It was a frustrating experience to say the least. I wasn’t able to promote my single properly.
I’ve also experienced people misinterpreting my lyrics, something that drives me crazy. No I don’t hate science, “Evolution” is about science gone wrong, NO “Thou” is not Christian metal, it’s a satirical metal-hymn to the only true God in the world “Money” it’s about big business/corporatism…etc, etc, oh and btw, my artist name is something I came up with when I lived on the South Side over in Chicago during the presidential election in 08′..oh in Hyde Park btw… you go figure…
Where do the uniforms come from? Well..why not? I seem to remember I was sporting those type of things for years…I mean why do people wear t-shirts? Nobody asks them why they wear what they wear? Do I need to have a groundbreaking reason for wearing what I’m wearing, NO. Some people just do things. There doesn’t have to be an explanation as to why.
We are all free to say, do, wear what we want, but with that freedom comes the freedom to deal with the consequences no matter what those are…which is the shitty bit about so-called “freedom of expression”. So I guess you can debate the definition of freedom, whether or not it is an illusion. You are free to have your own opinion just as you are free to get fired. You are free to say what you want just as you are free to be hated for it.
Sometimes you get punished for just being yourself…it has always been that way…the only variable is what you might get punished for depending on what the status quo is at the time.
I’m one of those people who would hate to look back on my life and realise that I missed out on an opportunity that could have been life changing. I don’t want to miss out on anything!
Which leads me to another dilemma….You see…sometimes you might find yourself with the option of:
1- Compromising when it comes to your artistic vision because if you don’t…
2- there won’t be any art, because your budget is limiting your artistic freedom or your freedom to express yourself fully.
See what I’m saying? I feel like showing off some examples!
1-INTRODUCTION ET RONDO CAPRICCIOSO!
Now THIS is the prime example of getting exactly what you want! NOTHING beats that feeling and I feel fortunate that I got to be part of the crazy mayhem that ensued those 48 hours when we shot the 4 videos for my album with Craig Ogden 🙂
It feels so fulfilling to actually see an idea come to life. This is why I’m never really happy until a song is properly recorded, and this is why I only really feel fulfilment when all the pieces in the puzzle have come together.
I was very clear, that I didn’t want the old-classical-music we recorded to be accompanied by old rustic, worn out buildings. I wanted something that was visually cutting edge, something that could symbolise humanities greatness when it comes to invention, something young, fresh, something optimistic, looking to the future. Something massive, monumental, modern, glass, concrete, did I say MODERN? It sounded like a ludicrous suggestion that we would be allowed to use the ULTIMATE location. Would we get the permits? I mean how were we gonna do it? I feel so blessed to actually have this type of a video, the location is that of dreams, the color correction tasteful, the editing amazing. I LOVE this video and I have to say that it feels great to get exactly what you wish for 🙂 I can never thank my manager/mother enough for making it all happen and for directing and editing the video (s).
This video was also one of many to be premiered by Guitar World \m/\m/\m/\m/\m/\m/\m/
Now this is a great example of having NO BUDGET to do anything…….An interesting thing to note is that this video has way more views than the one above it………..
This of course makes me think to myself “oh, I wish people would appreciate art…(insert sad face)”
It’s an interesting thing to note that my most popular video so far ( Zigeunerweisen ) was shot in our living room! Again, you guys have no idea how this is ALL thanks to my mother, who did my makeup, hair, lights and directed, shot and edited it, while Thomas and I were quite moody… due to the fact that we had shot the video the night before, but that did not turn out well.
There has been several articles written about how making expensive commercials and/or hiring super stars won’t necessarily give you the best return on investment when it comes to youtube. I’m an uber artsy artist of course, so I think big all the time. I would love to have big budget “hollywood-ish” videos for everything I’m doing, but this doesn’t necessarily guarantee views or successes. And if you get more views on videos shot in your living room, then what argument do you have?
“Instrumental nr.1” was recorded by me, at home, on my computer with my presonus gear: http://www.presonus.com, so I didn’t see the point of even making it available on iTunes, I did this recording for myself more than anything. I’m surprised that people like it so much and I thank GW for posting it and making it part of this awesome interview: http://www.guitarworld.com/interview-commander-chief-discusses-zigeunerweisen-guitar-duel-gear-warmups-and-more
Anyway…Am I a producer? NO. Am I an engineer? NO. Since I visualise my music when I write it, I saw an Epic viking warrior when I wrote this…..
The epic Viking warrior with an intense video from the battlefield is nowhere to be seen, unless you could film the thoughts in my head…
I’m not being ungrateful here BTW! These examples are just about getting your full artistic vision out there or not.
In my opinion this is just another youtube video of someone sitting there with their guitar… I prefer the video above this one because the one above its artistic.
To be honest, I have enough metal music for at least two albums. Why has not an album been recorded and released yet? Lack of funding. Ehhhh….I want these artsy ideas of mine to get out there…not necessarily because I think of myself as super-amazing, but because diversity of ideas is fun. And it feels fulfilling as a creative spirit to tick of things as ” done” on your creative check-list. Then your old ideas won’t haunt you anymore and you can just move on to your next obsession.
I had hoped to mark my 10-years-of-guitar-playing by making an instrumental guitar album with original music. I have all the material, but I prefer to leave the controls to professionals when it comes to recording. That said, I did make a live recording of an acoustic song that I put out on youtube ( Om Jeg Aldri Ser Deg Igjenn.)…Should I release more music like that or should I wait until there is funding to do it properly? Hmm……not sure, not sure, not sure….
Now this is an example of compromising. This is one of my most popular vids and it got premiered on Revolver Magazine’s website, which is pretty f&^%£ awesome \m/
(I was in total awe when it happened to be honest, this was back in 2012)
People love this song and video…I’m personally not a big fan of the video. Why? Because it clashes with the lyrics. I had a great idea for what I wanted to do here, but I was left with the option of:
Either-No video or a performance video.
Let’s face it, performance videos are boring…at least that’s what I think I had something I wanted to say, I had a message, that message and my idea didn’t get out there.Then again if I hadn’t made the video I would have lost out on some great exposure and as I said, both fans and industry people have always liked “Dropout”. The video looks professional and expensive and I don’t look too bad either 😉
4-THE NON-EXISTING VIDEO FOR “FAMOUS”.
This is a great example of what happens if you DON’T want to compromise with ANYBODY! A huge professional film team from France approached me in 2013 and offered to make a free music video.
Thrilled that I attracted the attention of a production team that makes commercials for huge corporations I thought “yes finally!”. We did shoot a video for “Famous” and a video for “Thou” when we recorded my EP in late 2011, but the producer ran off with the cash and we never received any footage, not even the raw footage. Since that had been our video budget, there was obviously no money left to go ahead to shoot again so when this film team approached me you can imagine I got very exited!
I Skyped with their chief producer and explained the ideas I had for various videos, “Famous” seemed like the “safest” concept so that was chosen by them.
I sent them exact instructions for what I visualised when it came to the video! This was gonna be hilarious and awesome \m/
After a while though I got a reply that they had calculated that if they were gonna make the video I wanted…then it would cost so and so much…. So they offered…..
A PERFORMANCE VIDEO.
I said thanks but no thanks. Result?
No video at all.
I was disappointed, but I couldn’t see myself compromise when it came to that song. I wasn’t interested in people getting it wrong! It’s a song about the “reality-show-famous-for-nothing” culture and it is supposed to be funny. It’s not a song about me and it’s not a critique towards people with talent/work ethic.
Then again it would probably have helped for sales and visibility to have another music video out there, but I felt that “staying-true” outweighed potential misunderstandings as to what the song is about.
You can always do things yourself to stay true to your artistic-ness then again it looks awesome to have something that looks professional, THEN AGAIN nothing beats getting exactly what you want..soo…it can be hard to know what to do sometimes.
If you have ever thought about or experienced any of the things I’ve described, then congrats my friend you are a troubled, honest, conflicted, true artist!
I don’t think you can judge someone’s artistic-ness based upon whether or not their art satisfy whatever standard you might have, rather I think you should judge someones artistic-ness based upon their attitude and how they approach their work. Because everybody’s taste and standard is different. What is rubbish to me, will speak to the depth of your soul.
NEXT UP!!!!!- Making your decision and taking the leap \m/ Which factors are taken into account as you pick your instrument? Which factors influenced my decision!!!! Why do I REALLY play the guitar? FIND OUT IN MY NEXT ENTRY!!!!!!! Subscribe to this blog or keep an eye on it!!!