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Feeling like a failure


CS2x
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@moosegrinder Have you looked into table top RPGs? Especially the small press / OSR movement? Really gnarly stuff out there like Mork Borg:

 

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It's not something I've looked in to myself and there's already a lot of established artists but it seems like something that's going on that would be a good fit for your style and it might be worth looking in to.

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In a similar vibe to the problems discussed in this thread I've kind of avoided responding because I know I can't just click a sympathetic emoji and then start scrolling through some other random shit. I think anywhere where you're competing with the the need to see what's next or find something new you're on a losing battle.

 

I can totally see how handing out CDs to family would garner more of a response, the internet arrives via phones and it's probably a brief moment or someone is killing time and they just want vacuous stimulation. I'll admit I regularly catch myself not finishing an article / interview I'm reading because I'm looking at microwave reviews for 5 slightly different products and wonder what the hell I'm doing so go back.

 

My wife and I are both in creative jobs, my wife is a writer and works on her own but I have a studio and whilst we both regularly talk about the issues discussed in this thread I'll say it's a lot easier for me to deal with as, much like this thread that now exists, I have a team I can talk about it with and we're in it together.

 

We're an animation studio and we do a lot of service work, and, maybe it's a problem of modern society but we just can't see ourselves continuing to do the same thing for the next 20 years or whatever, so we've tried a whole bunch of other avenues like pitching our own IP and getting funding for different kinds of projects from VR, 360 video through to kids TV and features. We've come up against a lot of the same kinds of problems discussed here, we've been told regularly that our best bet is crowdfunding but we just don't have a 'fanbase' or followers who would support it, you're up against so much other stuff that the levels of commitment have to be absurd that you're kind of killing yourself to get noticed and we're also not really those kinds of artists, we like our 9-5 and work / life balance.

 

At the moment we feel it comes down to 2 things; firstly the 'make art for yourself' approach really is the best advice. There are a thousand other people who can draw well or better, anyone can learn any piece of software or technique if they want to so what differentiates you, and what is it that's innate about your art that comes from your melting pot of a life that separates you from the noise? Secondly, and more importantly, you have to get others to vouch for you, to validate what you do. Whether it's a company or individuals. We've always felt really uncomfortable talking about ourselves or that our work is any good, but if someone else vouches for you then you can deflect and just talk about how great they are and that they supported you. A lot of the successful artists today aren't the greatest music makers or painters, but they're the ones that got pushed to the front by others.

 

One of our biggest problems I think is that we've always had the approach that we don't want to get rich from making something like a feature film, if we make £1 profit then that's a success in our eyes and we could do it again after that, we just want to earn a living and do what we love along the way, which is the pixar business plan, but investors don't want to hear that.

 

We got some funding from Epic and used it to make a short film, the kind of thing that we ourselves would want to see and they loved it and profiled it on their Unreal network and we've had a bunch of interest since of more interesting service work that we will continue to use to try and get our own projects financed properly. It's not easy, we've had glimpses of success and had the rug pulled mid project a few times but if you're at least doing the kind of work you enjoy along the way it keeps you sane.

So failing in a group isn't as bad :) my wife works on her own and is in a similar situation to what CS2x(really enjoyed the tracks, very atmospheric) seems to describe where you've demonstrated your ability and achieved a level of success but then instead of continuing the advance you find yourself just having to work harder and harder to even hold on to what you had before and it makes you question everything.

 

The day to day of the business also distracts from the fact that I really should have made a film by now and I need to get my arse into gear and sort it out.

 

 

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On 21/01/2022 at 11:12, Cheeko said:

At the moment we feel it comes down to 2 things; firstly the 'make art for yourself' approach really is the best advice. There are a thousand other people who can draw well or better, anyone can learn any piece of software or technique if they want to so what differentiates you, and what is it that's innate about your art that comes from your melting pot of a life that separates you from the noise?

 

I agree but I'm not convinced that people care about stuff that's different and fresh, I've done a lot of stuff that's not like anything else and I've never got a sense people realise it or appreciate it as one of its qualities. It's frustrating for me when i think it's lacking in other ways so if people don't value its difference then no wonder it's so unpopular. Like you do have to accept whatever you're doing is what it is. 

 

The idea of relishing tone and something being an antidote to everything else is not a feeling that's shared by others. I think for people to gravitate towards something they need to be a bit bored of the norm and that just isn't the case. It's the only explanation I've ever come to at the indifference of my stuff over the years. I just always assumed people had as strong desire for something fresh as I did and it's took me a long time to realise; no, not at all. 

 

Even on this forum with what you'd think are people into alternative things I've been astounded and speechless at reactions. Like; wow you're not getting any of it, like at all, how is this even possible. 

 

It's worth knowing when I make these posts that I don't think there's anyone in the world more incapable of gaining watchers and followers on art sites than me. It's borderline impossible for me. It's almost a point of pride now, my deviantart watch list is so low each one feels sort of earned. Like no hangers on, no one who thought 'yeah what the hell, I'll follow this guy'. Every single one feels like the person thought long and hard about it. 

 

People like to say 'ohh why do you care??' It's like saying; when you speak about anything why do you care that the other people in the room listen? Why not just waste energy? When you're building up energy inside to say something with passion and force, if the other person isn't receptive, why bother? 

 

When it comes to watchers, it matters because you want to do something so interesting that people think 'that was interesting, I want to see more!'. 

 

I see so many twitter profiles where I think 'why are you still bothering?' Like putting up videos of crashes and things. Stuff that isn't theirs, they find and repost. Putting up photos and having people see them means more when it's your absolute best most individual stuff you're proud of, but I kind of put it up with that excitement of; I hope people are impressed, I'm still psyched about this. It's an odd demand I guess, be impressed or I'll feel there's no point any more. 

 

I just uploaded a load of stuff to Instagram on a dormant account, that's why I'm saying all this. It took a few hours. I see enough stuff on there that has high engagement, views, comments. I got some likes straight away, so thought I'd do tags as I'm usually too lazy to bother, and upload and see. I couldn't care less about likes, it's watchers, people coming back, some impression made I want. I'm pretty apathetic towards pretty much everything now anyway so I probably should realise if others are that makes sense. Is there anything out there if I'm made aware of its existence I'm desperate to experience it? Not really. Probably just a new Radiohead album. 

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That’s where the second point comes in, you definitely have the personal identity, I’ve clicked on a thread of yours even though you’d changed your username and I immediately know who you are and what to expect. But unfortunately in terms of being an artist you don’t have any value until someone with more influence says you do.

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Life fucking sucks. Yeah, it's a cliche but it's true. Unless some bullshit expert validates you in a field, or you're incredibly talented or lucky, then you're just going to fly under the radar with the rest of us schmucks.

 

It's not just about talent, however unfair you feel about that, it's about luck and connections. As awesome and fresh someone feels about themselves, unless they catch the eye of some muppet expert or an important creature from the (online) zeitgeist then they ain't getting recognition. 

 

Multitude people feel they offer something above the norm yet feel under appreciated by the world, they're either wrong, unlucky or unfortunately (for them and their ego) only recognised by themselves or a close circle.

 

Life is hard, it's full of nepotism, favour, luck and delusion.

 

Feel good about yourself and enjoy what you do and fuck the rest. Then luck, talent and delusion don't hurt but lift, and whatever else occurs is gravy. It's the only real way to personal success/fulfilment for the majority. Whether you feel it unfair or not. Crack on. If someone says they like your stuff, be glad, don't take it like you should be the next hot shit.

 

Tbh, the only person whose stuff I've felt deserved universal recognition from RLLMUK was 'Melonwhatsit?' The guy who did the pixel art thing years ago. Can only comment on what I've came across, and in the end what do I know.

 

Big fucking raspberry.

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On 27/01/2022 at 23:15, amc said:

 

 

Tbh, the only person whose stuff I've felt deserved universal recognition from RLLMUK was 'Melonwhatsit?' The guy who did the pixel art thing years ago. Can only comment on what I've came across, and in the end what do I know.

 

 

 

Thank you.

 

Luck played a bit part for me, it all snowballed from that one Edge Retro cover, not that I wasn't drawing all the time my whole life but I still needed that big break. Then I ended up freelancing for over 15 years and, who knew, drawing everyday for a job actually makes you a lot better at it. Now I am full time working in games which is what I always wanted to do. So there is hope.

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Again, I’ve really enjoyed the honesty in all recent posts and appreciated reading every account anyone shared. Thanks for what you wrote - I want to respond to some of those things, but selfishly also want to vent. 
 

To be honest, everything has got so much worse for me that I kind of find the O.P almost amusing. In retrospect I had it really good then and should have been more thankful - at least I was still able to earn a living off creating new music in some capacity for film projects and other things (even if the personal stuff increasingly met with tumbleweeds.) I’m facing the reality that I’ll probably have to retrain now, but the problem is being a freelance composer / musician is all I’ve ever known since the age of 16 or so. Am 34 now. It’s not just that work has entirely dried up since then anyway (and, whilst trying to reach out am terrible at the “hussle” side) - increasingly weird hearing / tinnitus problems mean that, while I can still make good tracks (according to friends who like that sort of stuff and will give an honest critique of mix/sonics), I can’t do it with the enthusiasm or near the speed of before and certainly not in any outside situations where I can’t control volumes / keep them low. 

 

Have no experience working in any other field, and this skillset is not particularly transferable. Has anyone else had to face this? Moving from having only ever known one kind of specific creative freelance work to something totally different? It seems so daunting; have been frozen over it for months. I mean it’s obvious others have had to take this path - I’ve just never met them! 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 18/02/2022 at 11:30, johnj said:

@CS2xwould be great to hear about working with fka and Lana if you're able to share

 

@johnj, sure I am happy to share. I met Lana in 2008 (I think!) The contact came through my friend Ivor Guest, who was sought as the 2008 Grace Jones album he produced called Hurricane had just come out. If managers or singers approached him to "try out" a producer he often asked me to make the track with him, and at the time Lana was one of a number of singers who came through. She was really likeable and kind of vulnerable, in the positive sense of the word. You felt like you could say anything with her. I think I was 20 or 21 at the time, and she would have been a similar age, but already had quite a clear idea about how she wanted her vocal to sound and insisted on doing it a certain way. I've included the track we did below - I think it's quite good for under 2 days work. A lot of it came out of playing the Moog Voyager while she sang along. She liked the piece at the time, but we sent it to her manager and heard nothing back and that was eventually the end of that. She then blew up not too long after, I think? I am not in contact with her any more but am happy to answer more questions if you have any.   
 


As for FKA Twigs...I met her (her artist name was just "Twigs" in those days) through Myspace, as she was on that site searching out producers to try ideas out with. This was in 2008. She soon came over to my studio after a couple of messages and phone calls and Electric Affection was the first track we did (you can find that on the SoundCloud too.) She was extremely fun to work with; great sense of humour, open to many ideas, even got along with my parents really well. Tracks came fast, out of a lot of free, spontaneous and super-great energy...involved much furious MPC bashing and machine tweaking and 'what would happen if?' type experimentation. She was really lovely and patient even when got lost in editing sounds/music on the screen away from the hardware for hours. We ended up doing 5 other full tracks together through that year to two years. She seemed open to experiment with various styles and references - but did have clear vision and ambition. I didn't, really; was just messing around and had no sense about how to release that kind of material properly, so it was inevitable she would move on, looking back. Interestingly, there was much more of an emphasis on a punk-ey kind of raw sound / new wave / post-punk sound for her then...She seemed really interested in pursuing that at one point. I then got lost in exploring other musical ideas and went abroad and we kind of lost contact. Her current sound is amazing, and strangely I think that's the direction we might have gone in had she wanted that then. But she has gone above and beyond in that electronic world...it's great to hear the brilliantly textural sonics she pursued in the end. Happy to share more once again if you want to know more!

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  • 4 weeks later...

I really like that Lana track. The life of a producer sounds strange to me, being a 20 year old inviting over another stranger who is also 20 to work on a track to see if there's any synergy to work on further stuff. 

 

I started instagram out of curiosity a month ago. Immediate response in terms of a few likes for each photo which I guess goes for anything put up and it was better than nothing so I carried on. I tag everything and got followers, and it built and built and you'd never guess how many I have now. A mighty...64. Each one hard earned. I'm on 208 on deviantart and 0 on flickr. 

 

I've lost about 9 instagram followers in the last few weeks. Yeah, the number goes down. I don’t get followers, I lose them. :lol: People going to the effort of unfollowing. I was on 70 and every time I check it drops. The only reasons I can think of are uploading too much or crossing a line where the person thinks 'actually, I don't like the way he goes about this'. Or accounts being deleted. But I screengrab and check. You would wouldn't you? What follower number goes down, I mean really? It's not like a paid subscription where it comes down to cost and how much you use the thing. Or you have to put a stop to spam email.

 

Maybe supposing they're too nihilistic for some is unfair, but I met another street photographer in Blackpool, him and his wife, and they had cards, I looked them up, added them on Instagram and just thought...he's been going to Blackpool for years he said, all of his stuff is from there, and it's weird to feel uneasy about what their reaction would be given how dark they are. Like he's going to be thinking 'oh..this is how you're presenting things'. Or maybe not. 

 

It's weird because people don't understand the output is the result of a pursuit of something interesting, and playing. If I can't do something interesting to me, and have the potential to surprise, I won't do it. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

@CS2x Great story thank you. This is one of those 'what hold on how do YOU feel like a failure' parts :) The Lana one is interesting given how her sound came out in the end, the twigs one is fecking great.  Sorry if I've missed it earlier in the thread - are you still in music?

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 26/04/2022 at 15:43, moosegrinder said:

I just got a 16 hour part time contract in B&M. Yeah.

 

I worked in retail till I got a job in the hospital and I've worked for the NHS ever since, it might be worth taking a look at NHS jobs and see if anything takes your fancy. There are a tonne of jobs where they'll teach you everything you need to know, I'm also only qualified for retail but joining the NHS led on to better things.

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@Loik V credern - yes, it is / was a pretty weird life. You meet some good singers and making the stuff is fun, but putting lots of work in for free that can’t even be released isn’t so great after a while. I also met one or two people who kept changing their minds; one week they liked the track and seemed so excited, the next their partner or whoever said x about it so “could we change this? And this? And this? And, like, start again?” I find it hard to say no anyway! 😄 But I don’t know nearly as much as many people do about that pop producer world and don’t know if how I did it was “normal”, and stopped doing that around 2013; I have friends who work with singers and liaise with managers and so on and have been hammering that for years, but I haven’t got the energy, hunger or aptitude to hustle or follow things up in that way. So various kinds of media work seemed a more peaceful path, even if you miss some explosive possibilities (and even if people down the command chain can still reverse decisions.) And I can very much relate to your Instagram experience. It can seem everything works in reverse with sharing today, and I appreciate you being open about that because it’s kind of what the OP was attempting to express. It is great you pursue what interests you and that play is an essential part to what you do. It’s quite hard to relate to people who don’t do that, just as they sometimes seem to find it weird to be driven by that and not much else…

 

@johnj, thanks for the kind words! If I had answered not too long ago, I would have said I’m not really in music any more - because of these intense tinnitus / hyperacusis issues. As others have mentioned here, I was just looking at working in any simple (quiet) job situation, unrelated to music. But as of late I have found ways of working around it! And have begun taking on some work again, and making loads of tracks just for fun. Really it has been crazy difficult since this kicked off two years ago and then seemingly got even worse, and so dark at times that the O.P scenario seems so irrelevant and easy. But there are good, or better, days. Sleep is still a big challenge (without chemical aid), but apart from live stuff (I had to abandon a gig on the night for a jazz / pop band I play in as even with ear muffs AND ear plugs the levels were too much), I am doing studio work on “good” ear days again, and even on tougher days. It’s caused me to be very evangelical to teens I know, to not to blast their ears! The guys I know often assume they’ll be fine with loud volumes, but they’re possibly one concert, earphone or car drive away from chronic torment. 
 

Sorry for talking about myself so much! But I do enjoy reading others do the same, so maybe it’s ok. 🙂

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