Panel 2 - Getting into the Zone: A Discussion About the Creative Process Hosted By Evelyn Malinowski
My name is evelyn romanowski and a staff writer for a berlin based web site called no fear pop and uh I have affiliations with a few folks wire tiny mix tapes also weird canada very happy to be up here today with the black madonna ricochet priests in tosh tomato I thought further do please introduce your selves as I I'm actually maria and um uh d j an occasional producer and I'm also the creative director at smart bar in chicago which is america's oldest underground dance club ware getting ready to celebrate our thirty three and a third anniversary this november I have a will come further records and I work in music forever and that is basically what I do and who I am I'm sure priest I'm also g seattle we were just bonding about how there aren't very many of us were quite proud right now um singer songwriter I've been seeing probably ever since I could speak so that was like my first form of expression and I continue that throughout my life and now here we're way um singer producer on ...
a pacific northwest label called dropping jen's so yeah um we're going to talk about the creative process and as it is, how does the creative process apply to each of you and what are your opinions of the creative process in general? But that was not my first question my first question actually is what would you say is the central most fundamental aspect of your approach to making music? I would say allowing myself to be vulnerable um that's that's of the utmost importance because I realized that I guard myself and and try and protect my emotions that's when I had creative blocks so I have allowed myself to be completely transparent with my heart and I think that that is what drives my creative force I mean, I guess I would completely agree with you I always come from an emotional place I think first try toe whenever I'm setting out to create to create in any way whether it's writing or performing I was aimed to have come from an emotionally honest place and but this place of truth that was my truth or whatever non truth I'm experiencing do do any of you have sort of more concrete two's as an an instrument? So I think some some creative some artists and musicians would say all the most fundamental thing for me when it comes to making music is my keyboard mean something and maybe it's not like this for everybody, but and it differs depending on what I'm doing, whether I'm producing or d j but I think that I think is discounted more than it should be is the role of the body in music creation because when I'm d j and I'm feeling really still and rigid and um not make it all or was this something that I'm working on in the studio? And I'm not having any kind of physical reaction to it at all? Then I know there's a problem and the inverse when I'm playing and it's really working that I'm extremely physical, probably notoriously flipping over the tables and interview what about, like, lock sneezes? Anyone experienced? Lakshmi is whether it's a live performance or in the studio are sort of sore back and decided to go some place and more if I'm really nervous, the point of, like, I'm sick, you know, like, I'm so nervous that it's just, like, ridiculous, and I don't know what I'm going to do, and I'm just bill, and I'm excited, but I'm ill and I'm like freaking out, you know, twenty homes, I think he's one like, I remember my deejay having sweaty palms to the point of, like dropping records because I'm so what way ridiculous, but, um, here is really inspirational to me and like, every time I get something new that's, when I get inspired by something because their news towns, the new things is that a new creatures like your a new little guy that says hi you can explore him and stuff and he's like I'm there for you like way like records in the same way you get like some new records and you're like exploring them and like, oh, this goes with this and I was with that, you know, you start really acknowledging there sort of their president and what they could do for you and how you can manipulate them and I think that's a really important aspect of being creative so what about the creative process when it comes to deejay live warren studio versus producing so I know I know we're all djs and producers here, but I feel like over here we're talking about deejaying more number here we're talking more about you do both yeah, exactly so I think we're all probably what I'm down with creativity feel any different for any of you when it comes to deejay live or in the city of ercis producing, performing, writing, music, performing um there's just a raw element to life performance the you can make mistakes and that's what makes you more human? Um the thing about studio work that I really enjoy and also can kind of the gift and occurs is the fact that you were able tio control the environment to an exact e and for someone like me who's a perfectionist, that means I'm going toe spend a little bit more time probably than I should on something and then when you're when you're performing live, you just kind of have tio go with the moment and that is when the real art comes to life I feel because you can feed off of the energy of the crowd and they play such a huge part and your performance on stage versus you know you really get an opportunity to tell the story exactly how you want it to be said when you're working in the studio so I enjoy both things equally for completely different reasons, you know, when things are going well in the studio it's more like the live thing then when things were not going well, you know, in what these two modes have in common is that when you're doing them really well, you're kind of in a state of thoughtlessness or mindlessness and I think about that a lot arthur russell, who is such a fascinating person was a huge buddhist and the way that he really emphasized in his work you know, the you know, the first the first thing you think is the best thing you know the first time is always the best time and kind of getting out of your own head and that's a huge singing for me is trying as much as possible whether it's in the studio or deejaying to get out of my head and not not to be thinking, you know, it's kind of like they say in baseball you can't think and hit at the same time I think that that's that's true to a degree for for both modes of performance so getting getting the idea or the feeling whatever we want to call it out of the head sometimes khun feel walked for various reasons. So have any of you let's say recently experienced artistic block or writer's block is its standard lee called or do you think do you think that it gets better with age and experience and artists block is a thing that happens for young artists exclusively, I think I really think so. Are you fucking kidding me? I did genuine question. I know it is sometimes I feel like I'm on a roll because I'm like thirty now whatever, but oh, shoot, I really putting way being wrong right way it does it it never goes away I think so. No, sykes had one like I didn t j for like, four or five years, I just couldn't I have no desire for it and that's why I started really really like producing a law, you know, so yeah, no, no, that is no, no, I am I mean, it happens right mayan, though sometimes is more intentional because I am said, I'm very emotional, and so there are certain parts of my life that sometimes I don't really want to deal with. So I intentionally block myself off artistically because I know that once I address it, it's kind of going to just the floodgates are opening, like now, I have to deal with this issue or this thing that I'm going through, and so some sometimes it's a natural artistic block and then sometimes it's like an intentional I don't want to talk about this right now like I just can't deal with it, so his huge lamenting and experience for me, I always think of so I think of blocks is just something to completely pushed through it's always hot doll of it, and I think like I've always thought of it was like a layer cake, so, like all right, like ten horrible starts and songs, and then I'll get through the icing part where it's like, find a good one, and so some parts of could create experience or more, even though I like better than icing. But I guess sizing analogy is a good part of it will be some takes the cake is really, really a lot of it nice things, very thin, and then vice versa, but I for me, like whenever I felt blocked up I think it's important to just still do it every day for every day that you can or create every day or try to have some sort of creative expression every day because the more you're in that flow, the more it's going to come out in a way a thousand hours thing that's really ah well that's a real thing yeah yeah something from ten thousand hours in order to be good at something doesn't matter who you are you could be anyone on and it just takes a lot of hours painting, writing, drawing, gardening doesn't matter what it is you've got to do it all the time you get ten thousand hours, which I've certainly probably have a moment after that. Yeah um do any of you have any superstitions around keeping you plugged into the region goal ten thousand hours or uh getting getting the idea out of your head for example, the coffee or tea mug has to be facing a certain way you have to have your phone on flight mode and in the refrigerator um lucky slippers I don't know I haven't danced mania t shirt that I don't wash yeah, I have two of them that are exactly the same and I've been in washington not very much and I but I have a thing about in the studio I only wear what it's dirty and then I don't know sometimes I just got over my thing about wearing makeup when I d j I used to think that it would like to make me think that I was trying too hard and so I wouldn't wear makeup or deodorant when I d j and I would go in and just absolutely terrible. This is like baseball shit, but, you know, like, you don't wash your jersey er and it was I have a bunch of stuff like that, and then also and everything is that a friend of mine and I when we got a big show? Well, he especially, but we'll send somebody to tell me, don't fuck up and we're telling your position, tell each other, don't fuck up, and if I get a don't fuck up and it means I'm going to do really good if you don't get I don't fuck out. I'm thinking now that what's he going to do sit in somebody like budapest and say, I don't know, I mean it's like that's another thing it's like it was like, don't thank you. What about your superstitions? I'm like a crystal person, no e rocks and bristles set up in a certain order and I'll rearrange them, I take them with me when I'm sure, yeah, I'm kind of worried about socks. Like I'm certain socks when I play or I'm a bad show and like a certain pair of socks or like underwear I'm never wear them for a show again don't wait I don't think it's a baseball players about you boring I don't I just more about I just warm up out of the environment around me being pure so if your energy is bad you cannot be around me before I go on stage like that's just kind of like my only rule of thumb you're sharing a backstage area with some folks whoever they are like you have to evacuate a little bit like myself from it like I'm not gonna kick anyone out or anything crazy like that but I just have to kind of be if I if I realize that you're kind of in some sort of mood or anything like that I have to separate myself from it because I'm a sponge so that will translate on stage if I'm around especially that someone that I'm close with so I just have to make sure that the air is pure process is really listening to your own needs it sounds like e way like a specific thing that I do like to have a clean area that's one thing like I am constantly shifting my boxes around and changing my set up constantly and I think that that has something to do with the creative thing that I do but I don't have like rocks or socks for sure I wasn't part of my plan to ask you these this question about to ask but on what are your son signs so I'm a virgo son because you're talking about way we're talking about being a spy ware talking about me working in boxes in certain ways you can you can say I was never born I do not have a son so I couldn't do that I am a lever score you almost like on the minute I don't know what the other one is the president right yeah you know so I don't know what the other one is that e o well we're all like really closing again wait okay let's see one of many stereotypes er artist stereotypes is insomnia sleeplessness do you experience that how often do you avoid it like such a bad sleeper and it was worse when I was deejaying around like I can't sleep in hotels I can't sleep nowhere it's it's pretty much the worst thing ever and I'm still like that and I'm such a night person my son has to go to school in the morning and it's awful and I hate the world because I really do I really do know he's been a decider about like eight a m being the time everyone starts doing shit so I think it explains a lot of aggression in the world yes it is just it's awful anybody else experience sleeplessness due to creative please anywhere I planes trains greenland couches home anywhere and I get it working members of all time I easily eight ten, twelve, thirteen hours sometimes after tour you can just go like happening at one time I was I was on tour and I slept sixteen hours and actually I would say that that's like a part of my thing is that it's kind of how I deal with stress and turn my brain off when I too is that it's kind of like a computer goes until low power mode my brain when it needs tio just shuts off and axes yeah it's not even about being tired it's about it's about shutdown I kind of like tommy for the creative aspect of it because it's really hallucinating conflict woozy experience really weird zones that way and I think I do quite well if I'm in a weird so easily coming up so this week I've been having a bit of anxiety my sleeps but actually I am a notorious napper I really took them for granted when I was a child I know I wake up in the morning two hours later like you anything ready to go back to sleep so yeah, I think it's the same though I think that's how I handle stress I kind of just hibernate and seizing and then I'm wired so yeah sorry this doesn't happen and um so we're talking about sleeplessness artist stereotypes there are there are many other artist types such as the starving artists artists needs to suffer artists are socially awkward artists are creative types or social airport I should say the experience anxiety on a frequent basis it's true the stereotype everyone's different whenever everyone has moments of life where they're more anxious than e told my life story well there's there's a video I wanted tio wanted to play actually we all watched it before but I actually feel like we have a little bit of time here can anyone tell me creative life folks whether the video you played we're good to go we're gonna watch a three and a half minute video and go on a journey together and we're gonna talk about it afterwards because ready all right in the back of your head what's your favourite ideas minus being creative ugo I just try to think creative see now I think this orange tell me please what you see it's just pouring out orange maybe teeth but not team me I see a silly face smiling at me could you know thinking creative way myself my friends now thank you find anything thank you now you have a good time on my friend a picture on account of their friend you might need to lay down good to be a creative kids going some leads and six and seventy favorite green is not that great the way your brain come on, guys get created that's a great be great. So sometimes sometimes, when, when being creatively productive, we maybe don't know howto the brakes on or were a little afraid of what we have produced don't know where it's coming from, uh, having a like an insomniac like psychedelic experience and find ourselves eating good pie. Um, does anyone has anyone experienced that before? Well, that's, what happened in the video? Um, yeah, he's your mike. I mean, it's, not just whether you've experienced that. Can you speak to that? That stereotyping that thing that does happen to someone who's on our worst enemies? Really? And I think that's true for most artists, no matter what kind of are you, do you look at it? You're like that's? Not good enough for that, that an offer? That's, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I think in your own mind, he can degreed everything that you've done, you know, regardless of how good people think it is or how, how much they like it or what's feedback you get from people, I think you can always find something better, because he could have done it differently, I think knowing that you could have done it differently makes you upset nothing is a cycle, and I think it's good actually think pushes this harder and further and more and more and that's the point, and if you weren't searching like I had this thing that my mom told me a long time ago, if you reach a point where you're done and there's nothing else to learn and there's nothing else out there that is fulfilling, you're done with it, you have to move on, you know, and that's kind of how art is if if you finished it and you're like, oh, well, that's good you like oh that's not good. You know what I mean? Like you shouldn't be happy with you should want to do more push yourself being uncomfortable places like you were talking that's basically kind of what it is and that, you know, it's uncomfortable places and I think is a good thing, right after a little while afraid of unleashing not only the emotions but the perfectionism like, do I want to go into perfectionist mode right now? This is making me feel really anxious. I feel like there's something I need to do a talk show. Do you have anything about that or that video? To me the most is I think darkness is good to export, but I think a lot of people when they start making our it's in a very like optimistic way, which is which is great and it should some threat of that should say there she comes from a place of love but I think for me most really amazing artists find a point where they realize the depths of what they're getting into and how hard it actually is to be an effective communicator and effective artists and once he sort of grass that depth of how deep it really goes I think it affects your perception of the entire world and you khun then therefore have a greater respect for other people that are pursuing that well it's not like an easy light thing I don't think being an artist but that's good good e u do you want to elaborate at all? And then it was I sort of just I agree on what people said especially saying when you are no longer fulfilled buy it you have to just kind of look at it for what it is and move on again as artists were perfectionist so we wanted he said way would like tio elaborate where change things because we have the ability to do it but that's kind of the red eye sort of find myself getting into especially when I was talking about studio work and how you are able to control the creative environment a lot more than one year doing a live performance you always find some layer that you could add or something some element of harmony is that you can kind of incorporate and at some point you just kind of have to the very end of that video is kind of like when everything goes black and it's just like ok I'm actually destroying the art because I'm trying to force something else when it's already beautiful the way that it is right now so that's a great interpretation by the way of that video that I've seen two hundred times yeah yeah I ever for me usually a sign that something is going very wrong in the studio is it's taking a long time and if I worked really hard on it it's been a lot of time thinking about the details you know anything I become very attached tio were spent a lot of time just making sure it's just so whereas on the other hand you know the things that that had worked twelve for me that I like later and people seems like most of those things are literally done enlarge in three hours almost everything and very fast yeah and letting you know actually later right like really quick short bursts you know yeah yeah way well also breaking for the artist's temperament like took twenty minutes this is such a good piece of where I come from there's no context for it yet you know I could tell you I was not somebody that produced alone. I used to work with other people and the first time that I did something alone, a friend of mine kind of scared me, too, and I don't work with a producer and always even just done most men and mastering and all that kind of stuff or pre mastering on. It was really a big jump for me and the first time that I did something in front of mine me to do it, and when I did it, it was so shocking. It was very I had always felt like I needed help, and it was very like it was emotional and scary. You know, with training wheels were coming off. Oh, no, we're gonna have scarred knees. Yeah, we should. We're unfortunately already a time we have to open up for some q and a here. We don't even have much time for that, but it's better be good. Yeah, way. Do we need to hand out microphones for this process? Maybe now he wants to be called on really bad later rays are you are your work another you're preparing your things, like hearing their highlight reel your work just like right here. You see, a lot of this is amazing thing. Here I am. I'm still struggling with this thing. Do you any of your life struggle with that? Where you're looking at a finished product, you're thinking well, it's, amazing, inspiring at the same time make myself feel like crap. You go through that? Yeah, yeah. Why s o I just wrapped an album we just sent it to mastering and while I was writing, I did not listen to artist that I was inspired by, especially if they had material coming out because I didn't want to first, why didn't want to accidentally sound like anyone else? And I also didn't want to become discouraged because I really want to trust my creative process and creating my own sound. So I have intentionally walked off that sort of comparison, and now I can. Now that my body of work is completely finished, I could go back and listen to things like little dragon put out and I didn't want to do it I didn't listen to yours that you put it like I didn't want to do a lot when I was reading it. Well, now I have but now I can look at my body of work and I don't feel you know when you're in this creative stages of creating out, it looks like it's very naked and tell you until you come into it you're like this is done this point about so now I don't have that complex because I intentionally separated that that sort of anxiety from from my process can be totally honest, I'm no I am like the exact opposite and was especially when I first started like d jane I was so competitive with the mixed tapes that I grew up with and of course I later found out that a lot of those were done on four tracks and were studio mixes and I was like, I got to be able to do this thing that he did or whatever and I would sit and do it over and over and over again until I was able to replicate a technique or whatever and then I found out later that it was they weren't even using the same stuff that I was a few capes and specifically, but it completely changed the way that I was I was so competitive with what I held up to be the idea of of this perfect mix or whatever it wass especially with d j more than with that then we're producing but I would just wanted to like I wanted to annihilate it yeah, I know you're not nobody's supposed to admit that they want to be the best or that they're competitive or whatever but like a lot of what we're talking about today and like that, that question brought it to my attention we're not struggle we're talking about competition competitive drive we're talking about differentiation, they're all kind of difficult things basically it's going to point that out e like there's so much less competition producing making your own stuff and people are more supportive when you make your own stuff really interested in what you're doing and the deejay is cool I'm not saying it's not but it's something that a lot of people can do and they do it fucking well and you know it's going to take a lot of effort and a lot of hours and a lot of practice to be is good as some people they're just not truly good of it where was producing? I really feel like people are like oh that's cool I'm gonna try that inspired by that that's really cool, you know and I think there's a that are I don't know I feel like there's more I don't know whatthe people are like food, you know and they want to talk about it and get excited by it and stuff and it's different for one more question I'm sorry, yeah, I just got the notice, but you should answer this question that I reached in I'm not trying to compete or like feeling inferior each other people's knowing that no one else has my perspective or is live my life. So no one is long as I'm telling that story honestly, I'm going to be my own thing. I saw two hands over here he's wondering whether there's more satisfaction he's wondering whether there's more satisfaction gamed out of studio space compared to live performance where you're sort of responding to the crowd more there's, your more volatile, more pliant it's a different kind of reward one of them is internal and one of them is external when you make a great record and you know what, you want the world heavyweight championship with yourself when you did when you when you, when you play in a club or whatever and you do with the job, then you you're receiving that feedback from a third party and they're both they're both rewarding in their own way exactly there about rewarding in their own way, but they're very different what is more psychological and one is more tactical that sixty as exactly I was going to say uh there is one more hands way e I did that that's just what was the reality for me? I don't think of d day deejaying is being a male thing but when I was growing up I mean there really I literally I don't think I saw that there was the first woman I ever saw a deejay with one eight seven a trans woman and until that after that I don't think I saw anybody for the most part really except for like heather and collect was very so it was so rare for me just because that was the program I used at the time what yes it is you know my car's a girl you know things you can tell just like your girl and you're not e so I do think that comes plain as well like the ones I have right now they're all boys you could tell in the ceo of the things that they do their gnarly that mean tio she's one of a kind of thing but you know I don't think it matters to be honest but yeah that's great but you don't even think about it we're talking about it you know yeah yeah there is lots of girls do chase that I listened to growing up too so I think we're pretty lucky here there were there was just a tiny tiny and, well, I was trying to make this list in my mind if there was, I wrote a thing where they asked me to compile this list and I was like, oh my god, this is there really were some chemistry in storm that was, like three hours, like storm. I mean, some of those, actually, she passed away, like I didn't know that. Oh, yeah, this terrible on mix, mac, or was it? Yeah, it was like the worst story ever remember here. It was like, ah, gut wrenching. I mean, I was like, twelve, okay, I'm thirteen way everybody takes here. Wait.