Rock star, crowdfunding pioneer, and TED speaker Amanda Palmer knows all about asking. Performing as a living statue in a wedding dress, she wordlessly asked thousands of passersby for their dollars. When she became a singer, songwriter, and musician, she was not afraid to ask her audience to support her as she surfed the crowd (and slept on their couches while touring). And when she left her record label to strike out on her own, she asked her fans to support her in making an album, leading to the world’s most successful music Kickstarter.
Even while Amanda is both celebrated and attacked for her fearlessness in asking for help, she finds that there are important things she cannot ask for-as a musician, as a friend, and as a wife. She learns that she isn’t alone in this, that so many people are afraid to ask for help, and it paralyzes their lives and relationships. In this groundbreaking book, she explores these barriers in her own life and in the lives of those around her, and discovers the emotional, philosophical, and practical aspects of The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help. In one of many, many brilliant passages, Amanda talks about the harsh criteria for what it means to be an artist, and the little voice in your head, telling you you’re not worthy of such ideas, no matter how many hours of practice or experience you have.
People working in the arts engage in street combat with The Fraud Police on a daily basis, because much of our work is new and not readily or conventionally categorized. When you’re an artist, nobody ever tells you or hits you with the magic wand of legitimacy. You have to hit your own head with your own handmade wand. And you feel stupid doing it.
There’s no “correct path” to becoming a real artist. You might think you’ll gain legitimacy by going to university, getting published, getting signed to a record label. But it’s all bullshit, and it’s all in your head. You’re an artist when you say you are. And you’re a good artist when you make somebody else experience or feel something deep or unexpected.
Forty years ago this week, Led Zeppelin released the band’s monumental sixth album, the double LP Physical Graffiti. This is a great time as any for Jimmy to look back at his biggest influence:
There was this sort of explosion of music that happened for the youth in the ’50s. And quite clearly it was rock and roll, but also what we had over in England was this guy Lonnie Donegan. And he spawned the whole skiffle movement and caught people’s imagination. And he was superb. He was absolutely superb, but there he was playing like an acoustic guitar and doing these performances. Every Saturday there would be a show on the television where usually he was on, every other week, and it was just something to behold at the time. Just his whole passion and the way that he delivered his material. Now the thing is that he’d been in a jazz band prior to that, Chris Barber’s Jazz Band, and Chris Barber was very much somebody who … he played trombone, Chris Barber, but he was very much into the blues. In fact, he was behind getting Muddy Waters to visit in England in the ’50s. Absolutely astonishing stuff, isn’t it? And so when Lonnie Donegan was playing the banjo in his sort of traditional jazz band … I guess when Lonnie Donegan wanted to sort of do these songs, [Barber] was fine with it. Bringing through the sort of blues, American country blues and all of that. So Lonnie Donegan is playing “Rock Island Line.” Which at the time, obviously, we thought it was a Lonnie Donegan song, but it sort of goes back more to the sort of roots of Leadbelly. And he really understood all that stuff, Lonnie Donegan. But this is the way he sort of, should we, say jazzed it up or skiffled it up. But it was to the point where so many of the guitarists from the ’60s will all say Lonnie Donegan was the influence.
Christine Sun Kim, deaf from birth, creates art at the intersection of sound, language, and music. From Medium:
Can you tell me about the various ways that you experience sound without hearing it? I’m curious how this ties into your artwork and the various ways you explore.
For a piece called “Feedback Aftermath,” I played with feedback for hours one night and then went home. At home I didn’t feel good — [I] felt anxious. I couldn’t sleep well that night, and I didn’t want to go back to the studio for one week. That was disconcerting. And then when I watched the video of myself — because I videotape myself sometimes — I felt sort of stressed out and uneasy. Later I realized that it had an impact on me, an extreme impact, like post-traumatic stress. Most hearing people don’t experience that. You have warning signals. If your ears hurt, you leave the room, you stop, you step away. I don’t have those signals, so I went past all warnings and experienced feedback to the full degree.
Andy, your career has stretched over decades, and you’ve been involved in so much pop iconography its sometimes hard to digest. So for you, looking back on everything that you’ve done, what has been your biggest regret, and, conversely, what has been your proudest accomplishment?
Andy Kim: I have no regrets. I have not one single regret. I was born with a wonderful DNA where I felt that my life was not a race against someone else or another artist. It was probably internal, ya know? I needed to this. I didn’t know why and I didn’t understand. I don’t come from a musical family and didn’t go to Julliard or anything, but I had this kind of vision of stuff that was so powerful that I just needed to find it. I have no regrets. There are times when, for many years, I’ve been irrelevant—and it was OK! I had my moment. No one is responsible for anyone else’s dreams. I don’t need a babysitter. I just needed to know that I could do this. I just think that my happiest time or my best time, upon reflection, is that I had the courage to do this. I had the courage to go to an environment that was the Brill Building and was actually welcomed but I had the courage to take this step.
Via Pop Matters
Sometimes expressing emotions without holding back at all can be hard, because vulnerability can carry a stigma of weakness. Was that something that ever crossed your mind when it came to sharing your music?
Growing up, sharing how I felt and being vulnerable was considered a strength. It was something that I wasn’t good at for so long, that when I finally learned how to do it, I realized that I felt better and the people I was trying to communicate with felt better, as well. It’s something I’m still working on. Even when it’s hard, when people know how you feel, there’s no room for misinterpretation or misconnection. It’s important to be connected with people. It’s important for the people you’re close to to know who you are. If you shut any side of yourself down, especially that vulnerable side, which is where a lot of love comes from, it’s unhealthy. It is misconstrued as being weak, but that’s a militant upbringing. You’re told not to cry, to walk it off, but it’s OK to acknowledge and embrace pain—and share it. It can be really cathartic and positive.
At one point in your life, you were in a long-term relationship with someone who was extremely unsupportive of your music and your art. How does someone keep making their art when a person they care about in their life doesn’t want them to make it?
It was unbelievable that I even went on as long as I did. There was this driving force inside of me that felt [music] was important for me to do, that it felt good to do. For someone I cared about so deeply to not accept this part of me, like everything else about me was fine except for this one part, that’s not somebody loving you. I realized that I knew who my real friends and my family were, and what unconditional love meant: Where, even when it’s not easy, you accept it and you’re open to it. It just wasn’t love, so I didn’t keep that person in my life. Life is too short to surround yourself with people who aren’t looking out for you.
Via Rookie Magazine
From The Age:
Australia’s 25,000 entertainment industry workers are more likely to suffer from mental health issues, have higher rates of suicide and are paid much less than the rest of the community, according to research from Victoria University.
The pilot study highlights a work environment that is “unhealthy, often divisive, competitive and lacking social support” and concludes “there are strong indicators these creative workers have a disproportionate rate of mental health issues”.
In 2012, the Australian Road Crew Collective identified 70 roadies who had died prematurely, many from suspected suicide. That sparked Entertainment Assist, a charity that helps people working in the entertainment industry, to try and found out why.
The Pratt Foundation funded the pilot study, which was completed by Dr Julie van den Eynde, Professor Adrian Fisher and Associate Professor Christopher Sonn, from Victoria University. For the Phase I report, the researchers interviewed entertainment industry workers across three employment groups.
Audiowood makes wooden turntables and stereo gear, but with a twist. They also make other things out of wood, like iPhone docks, AV furniture, and sometimes lamps and clocks.
They started making custom turntables over 6 years ago, and they’ve been riding the waves of burlwood turntable mania ever since. Audiowood designs have graced the pages of over 20 major international magazines and are featured in dozens of design, audiophile, and tech. blogs. Captain Kirk spins our Bachelor Turntable in Paramount Pictures’ Star Trek: Into Darkness, and they are happy about collaborations with SHFT.com and Bushmills on various advertising and web projects.
All of their products are sustainably produced, by hand, in the US, using domestic and European components. In addition to making their own things, Audiowood is also a retailer for some other brands of quality European and US-made audio gear, including Rega, Music Hall Turntables, Grado, Bellari, High Resolution Technologies, Red Dragon Audio, and SME S2 Tonearms.
Barky is a precision turntable that features a high-quality Rega parts kit, glass platter, RB303 arm and Rega Elys2 cartridge. Solid ash round is finished with polyurethane and paste wax, and has adjustable solid-brass spike feet.
Custom turntables are their specialty, and are available in almost any design imaginable, from $900 up. In addition to custom made parts, their custom turntables frequently feature quality parts made by European and US manufacturers like Rega, Origin Live, SME, Groovetracer, Grado, Phoenix Engineering, and Music Hall. Turnaround time for custom turntables is usually less than one month.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
Here’s a kind of funny one, because I can’t think of the best career advice. Earl McGrath was a friend of [Atlantic cofounder] Ahmet Ertegun‘s, and he was a little bit of an art dealer. He would say things like, “Why are you buying a new couch when you could buy a painting? That couch is fine.” His apartment was kinda like that — it had these incredible contemporary paintings everywhere and hardly any furniture.
So, not that I’ve bought extremely expensive art, but I have always bought art, and I’m sitting in my kitchen and there are four great paintings in here. So maybe the best advice I’ve gotten is, “Buy art.”
Is your relationship with Marilyn Mansion the kind of friendship where you’d call each other up when things seemed to be going badly for the other one. Say, during the aftermath of Columbine …
I’m sorry, but to me that’s a silly question.
Because it presupposes that those situations needed attending to. I think those things, and some of the things I’ve been through, they’re false narratives. They’re not real narratives. He’s brilliant in that he can intuitively identify those false narratives and rather than run from them he goes straight at them. We need people like that.
Do you think you’ve suffered from false narratives throughout your career?
I think that’s obvious. I’m laughing because I thought for sure I would get really strong reviews for our new album [Monuments to an Elegy], based on all the feedback I was getting. But I’m getting the same reviews I got back in the day, these kind of middling, muddling reviews that just won’t fucking say: “This is a fucking brilliant album from a brilliant artist.” It’s always got to have a qualifier to it. So my point is this: I made, according to most people, two classic albums in my life. But go back and read those reviews – I got the same type of reviews then as I’m getting now! People assume we got great reviews back then – we got shit reviews. So it’s weird because this is like: “Here I go again.” I strike on to something fresh, fans are going fucking nuts, everyone’s excited, and we’ve got to have some fucking guy going: “Oh I don’t know how to feel about this.”
You feel like the reviews are pre-written?
Yes. I think these are false narratives. The old guard sets up gatekeepers who decide who is in and who is out. The joke for me is that I’ve been on the fucking outside for 25 years and yet here I am. My whole point is – at what point do I get invited inside?
Do you even want to be invited inside?
I don’t understand why you’re bothered by what critics think if fans are liking the record.
It’s bad for business. If you’re Martin Scorsese and you’ve got a new picture coming out, you want good reviews, because then more people see your film. So if you make a good album then you deserve a fair review of your work, especially after being in the culture for 25 fucking years. But I realise now I’m not going to get my due from that culture.
Via The Guardian
Dan Reynolds on his strained relationship with his parents and his mother’s hesitancy about him becoming a musician:
“You know, I’ve always kind of had strained relations with my parents, just because I was kind of left-of-center compared to what my family comes from, which is a very conservative family of doctors and lawyers. I told my mom I wanted to be a musician when I was little, you know. It was scary for her, and she was—she didn’t forbid me, but she didn’t quite… you know, she didn’t…. How can I put it… She didn’t fully embrace it… Especially when I talked about dropping out of college to pursue it. She was scared about it, but my dad was always actually secretly into it. He’s a lawyer, and he’s the one who kind of instilled the love of music into me in the first place. He’s always been into Paul Simon and the Beatles, the Beach Boys—all those artists with the great melodies. That’s where that came from.”
Via Vegas Magazine
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