Your Taste vs. Your Art

Being an artist is not for the faint of heart for a number of reasons. One of the first (and largest) barriers you encounter is the huge gap between what you want your art to be and what it’s actual current state is.

For most people pursuing creative work, we start off being inspired by other people’s work.  In the context of my love of music, I was inspired by many over the years. I have early memories of being captivated by the sounds of Bob Marley, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Marvin Gaye, and Talking Heads.  Pink Floyd, The Police, Michael Jackson, Prince, Depeche Mode, Tribe Called Quest, Alice in Chains. That’s just the tip of the Iceberg, I could go on forever. Eventually I’d cross paths with electronic focused acts like Underworld, Aphex Twin, Charles Webster, Herbert, Tom Middleton, Kruder & Dorfmeister, Deep Dish, BT, and countless others.  I would listen to their music over and over for enjoyment but I was also studying it. Breaking it down and piecing together in my head the various components of the music and why they made the music appeal to me.  This is how you develop your taste.  And while taste is subjective, it’s why some people inevitably have better taste than others. They know their shit from putting in the time to figure out why something resonates with them (and likely others).

Eventually after all that studying and taste-making you get it in your head that you know what good music is and you should give it a shot yourself. Then you make your first tune and it’s fucking terrible. Then you make your tenth tune and it still fucking sucks. Your twentieth, yep still bad.  Now you’re really starting to doubt yourself and you’re wondering if you’re really cut out for this. Your production rate slips because you are discouraged. You start getting “too busy” to write songs but it’s really just because you’re discouraged and afraid of failing.  It’s even more discouraging because you know you have these great ideas in your head, you just can’t seem to get them out and recorded.  You hear the hit songs of someone else and think, “I could have come up with that!”.  The only way to close the gap between your taste and your art is to do more work.  Certainly a simple concept but a very time consuming one so it’s not very popular with many people.  You have to have faith that with each song you write, you are closing that gap a little more. Even if sometimes a new tune happens to be worse than your last, you are always learning something by finishing yet another tune.

Here’s a cool video taken from an Ira Glass interview that highlights this point well:

THE GAP by Ira Glass from Daniel Sax on Vimeo.


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