It’s all a creative process

Mornin! As you know by now, I’m pretty driven to create. Going forth and ignoring the naysayers, and following my passion doggedly with utter focus keeps me sane in life.

For some years I’ve wanted to sing – not just at home, but out and in front of people. But each time someone told me I had an ok voice, or that I was ‘getting there’, or (I felt) smiled politely when I sang, or when I sang and felt my voice shake as I sang to a friend, I became progressively more terrified to unleash my voice. I was really irritated with myself that I couldn’t belt it like Aretha and probably never would so decided I’d best stick to DJing.

Nerves have always been a problem for me. Not that you’d really ever guess it – I hide it well, and a smile and posititivity not only makes me feel better but helps me connect more readily in all kinds of social situations, not least on stage. When it comes to performances, I’ve been sick, felt dizzy, shaky, I can’t breathe properly, you name it I have been there as I get ready to hit the decks. Ridiculous, as I’m just mucking about with some records and making a party, but there you go, we all have our achilles heel!!

With DJing, at the beginning of my sets it’s my goal to hold it together enough to stop my hands shaking enough to control the mixer, remember to breathe deeply, and zone past the nerves and the spinning head, and deep into the music from the off to avoid fucking up my first mix. Once I’m past mix two, I’m off and it’s all good!

When you’re singing, it’s ALL about breath – so nerves and shaking voice shines and amplifies through a mic and soundsystem. Scary.

I know only too well the energy that you feel playing on a large soundsystem as a DJ is HUGE. I mean, each kick and bassline literally shakes your body. It’s addictive, but also quite overwhelming and I would liken it to the feeling of being carried along on a monster wave. If you’ve ever tried surfing on large waves, it’s like that. Yup, terrifying, but exhilarating.

So, steadying myself, I realised that I wasn’t about to go & put myself into that situtation where the energy was simply to great for my head to cope with and without enough experience to deal with any issues – not least the nerves!

With my DJing, every day, I rehearse ideas for sets I might play, ways I could start, tunes that link other tunes, set finishers, what tracks have the right energy to ramp things up, or take it down. The key to managing nerves is in being prepared – every time.

Having Dj’d for 20 years I also know that the more you do something the better you become, that you encounter all kinds of nightmares along the way but that they all add up to bring you to where you are today and there is simply no other way to become good at something than to do it every day, and over a long period of time.

So eventually it clicked that while I may never in fact be Aretha, I could become good – well, the best I can be, and continue to get better if I dedicate a little time every day to it, and as I have with DJing, put myself out there into those very scary situations in order to grow and learn.

I realised if I didn’t ever do it, I’d regret it and always wonder ‘what if’ and I hate that!

So, I’ve been having singing lessons for a while now to help with technique, breathing and nerves. I’ve been singing a little every day. And it’s getting better.

Last weekend I sang two sets at The Secret Vintage Fair and I was pretty pleased with them. It’s a different skillset to DJing, but I think you can broadly apply the same principals to just about anything new. I had prepared properly, knew just how I was going to sing each track, had rehearsed with a mic, set up nice & early so I felt comfortable with the venue and as it happened it was all good!

Over the last couple of days I’ve been exploring double tracking and harmonies – and while I was at it recorded what I tried out. Thought I’d share some of this creative work in progress with you.

The ultimate goal is to get more of my own songs and those I co-create and collaborate on out there, so as I’m getting tooled up for it, I’m having a load of fun trying stuff out covering songs and interpreting others as I go along – it’s inspiring!

I’ve also found it’s pretty relaxing and almost like a meditation which is helpful to calm the brain down in between being productive in my DJ and production work and tearing my hair out with the technical side of what I do (which does drive me nuts sometimes.

Whilst I’m no Aretha, I’m pretty happy with how this creative process is coming along, and that’s why I’m sharing it with you!

Happy Wednesday and hope you’re having a good ‘un.