I’m a few tracks into working on my next album release and it feels great to be getting some new material together, even if it’s not clear whether this is a follow up to Opening or another stand alone body of work. Whist I feel that I strive for cohesion in one sense, by writing from my heart, and allowing my work to take me where I need to go, I don’t compose with a theme or overall end result in mind. It may be a little indulgent of me to enjoy the journey instead of directing my mind to a particular outcome (working in a specific genre, and developing an output that has an instantly recognisable thread running through it), but it has been the process of free creation and composition that has captivated and entertained me all these years. Still, I wonder what sort of waves I’m making.
Am I creating a series of waves that laps up on the shore, as one could witness at a coastline, or am I simply creating a random disturbance in a body of water? I think if I was working with a particular aural aesthetic in mind I could confidently say the former, but given that within each one of my compositions lies many influences, styles and textures, I think I’d honestly have to say I currently feel more like I’m moving freely about rather than in a consistent direction (or am I too far away from land to tell at this point). To take my metaphor further, this is probably just how it feels to be ‘emerging’ or ‘early career’. Some distance out at sea, with enough depth, the gusts of wind that encourage the formation of waves only ever manage to agitate the surface of the water in a seemingly random fashion. Nearer the shore, the energies that pushed and pulled in all directions combine, prevailing winds and currents take over, and waves form in lines, making their way to the beach. Is a wave that is free to roam the ocean, interacting with other waves spontaneously a happier wave than one destined only to lap the shore and fade away? Both are just manifestations of energy in water, subjected to different conditions.
I have always found it difficult to conform within my musical work. I used to write a lot of looped beats around 88bpm around the turn of the millennium with the intention that friends I had at the time (that were making their way in the UK hip hop scene) would pick one up for their next release. But my work was always too synthetic, or too futuristic, or just not enough like the hip hop they were used to hearing. After some years of unsatisfactorily trying to be that wave lapping at someone else’s shore, I guess I just took off in my own direction.
There isn’t a shoreline in sight, but I’ve never suffered for very long from a shortage of useful ideas. I have the odd studio session here and there where I am unsatisfied with my efforts enough to not explore an idea any further, but I don’t believe I’ve had more than two of those back to back in over ten years. There’s always a new piece waiting to form itself. I have hundreds of pieces in my compositional library. Old friends have commented on that body of work as if it’s still work in progress, needing to be finished and released, but I increasingly see each piece of work as a manifestation of the deeper work in progress - allowing the free flow of my creative energy, and striving for constant refinement. That I’ve hundreds of unreleased pieces of music doesn’t pain me at all. Even if all those pieces remain nothing other than useful experiments, or stepping stones that revealed another harmonic form, or production technique for me to utilise elsewhere I’m satisfied.
Making waves way out in the middle of nowhere, as it feels when you aren’t working within the comforts of a scene or movement that’s nearer the shore (audience), is sometimes a pretty scary and lonely affair, but I don’t think I’d have it any other way for now. Even if I turn around completely, I’m always moving forwards.