I don't profess to know too much right now. I'm a little mind numb. All I know is I've been working steadily towards a date to get on a plane, and then got on the plane and arrived in Sydney, without expectations, plans or any consciousness of doing. I'm here. On top of my mountain. For now, that's all that matters. I'm normally a very head strong go-getter with many projects and plates spinning, lots of emails flowing, artists and interests surrounding me, plans, strategies, empires, creations, constant flow of in and out. Right now, I sit and contemplate nothing except a little bit of self-expression here on the blog.
I am knee deep in fog about who I am. Neale Donald Walshe (author of "Conversations with God") will probably send his newsletter to me that i get once a week, very soon. It will be timely. He poses the question constantly of Who We Are and knows how to deconstruct every piece of that so we can start anew. I am feeling like I need to start anew. I feel like I've lost part of my way and that's not because I haven't lost myself, it's because the "way" has changed.
We are living in times of enormous change, of revolution, and of growth. My personal growth used to be somewhat dependent on my circumstances, my creative path, the opportunities that came to me, doors that opened, or closed. But now my personal growth has become less dependent on the obvious, and more about my inner sanctum. I don't feel beholdent to outward distractions, modes or challenges right now. That all tires me.
For instance, when I normally planned a trip to Australia, I'd plan a tour, a media campaign, lots of gigs, lots of doing, lots of phone calls, lots... I was hungry for the exposure, breaking a new record, meeting new people, getting out there, getting noticed. I have always wanted to "make it" in Australia, my home land. Wouldn't you want to be accepted in your home? Everyone would. We travel far and wide and seek the holy grail, only to want to return it home and put it on the mantle piece right? Don't we want our old peers and family to pat us on the back and say "ya done good, luv". Or do we?
I am not in to self-flagulation. I can say that I've earned a modicum of "success" (whatever that is) down-under with some good press, radio play, even MTV video play. Cool gigs, a nice reputation for helping other artists. I'm in good stead here. But I also know that my music is not the Australia mainstream variety. I don't get JJJ radio play and the mainstream stations find it hard to find the single off my records. Even my new record "extraOrdinary life" while receiving lovely feedback on it's concept, musicality, songwriting, performance yaddayaddayadda, doesn't seem to fit into the Aussie mold of "let's try and break it within the first week". Doesn't have that about it.
And so I'm left with... well what now? Do I go into the studio and record pop hits just to satisfy the market here? I am kind of perplexed as to what "they" want. Who's "they" anyway? Why do I feel like I have something to prove here? I've established myself enough everywhere else to not have to impress. I shouldn't have to impress anyone.
And that's what I'm arriving at, in my contemplation. I've spent 9 years. Count them. 9 years pursuing the American market only to now realise that I have nothing to prove anymore. What for? The "way" that tantalized me in the first place, is no longer the same. When I first started my journey, I had Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, George Michael, Seal, Hot House Flowers, Elton John, even Alanis Morrissette... to guide me in making albums with concepts, strong songwriting and artist stories. Now I have digital downloads, the itunes frenzy, one hit singles, corporate mega-bucks, Clearchannel monopolies, merging Majors and a jaded mindset to contend with.. as i still try and make what I feel are great concept albums.
My music industry is not the industry I signed up for in the beginning. But then I also was in love with a glamorized version of it: I dreamed I could be on Top 5 radio, a non 1 song, MTV video play (yep that's me visualizing myself dancing in the videos and doing the whole thang), world tours with a full on stage and light show.. and more... let alone the money to produce great records, live in comfort blah blah blah. What is THAT? That is an illusion. That is not reality. Even back then in my dream land, what was really going on was payola, corruption and conflict. It reminds me of "Syriana". If you haven't seen that movie you should. It stars George Clooney and is about the oil deals in Iran in the eightees and nineties, and implicates the CIA and the U.S Government in all these behind the scene deals versus freedom of the people and liberation of the Iran government, all over satisfying the American demand for oil. This stuff might be in movies and in books, but it's also life, and we live it also in the music business. Oil, music, soap, whatever you are selling... it's all the same.
And I don't want any part of it.
I don't want any part of greed, corruption, corporations screwing the little people. I don't want creativity stifled by beaurocracy, stakeholders, industry. I just want to express myself in an artistic way, to create peaceful change, thought and process and live a peaceful personal life that is filled with laughter, joy, partnership, family, trust and, yes, art. I am a humanitarian. I'm not going to go saving rainforests by chaining myself to the trunks of trees. I'm not going to paint "No War" on the Sydney Opera House, although I commend Dave for doing that. I'm not going to encourage sending men and women in to foreign lands to fight the corporate wars. I'm not going to do that. I'm going to write songs. And I'm going to create concept albums. And I'm going to play meaningful parts in Film. And I'm going to write books that encourage healing, self-empowerment, education and community. I'm going to perform and entertain and take people's minds to a place of beauty, self-healing and joy.
But I cannot do all that if I get constant backlash and blocks. There are many road blocks on our journey of life, that's for sure, but sometimes you just know that some of them are SIGNS to lead us to a better "way". As Walshe would put it, it's time for me to "use my past to empower my future" to continue to be and become even more authentic and creative in Who I AM. Authenticity is the key here. So much of the music business is inauthentic. This creates a connundrum. How can we be true to our creativity and our purpose when we are surrounded by so many untruths, selfish, materialistic parasites and monopolies over the market?
I went to Los Angeles to create a career, to explore my talents, to be inspired by greatness in order to be great. I have an A + type personality. I seek the highest form of expression and believe we must always do our very best as human beings. It's my own path to so-called enlightenment. But I haven't had an easy path. In fact, it is constantly reminded to me by the universe that I am meant for the path least travelled, that warrior spirit to show the way. Well I can keep showing the way for others, but what about the way for me? Shouldn't I get some joy in it? I'm not here to matyr myself in order to make sure everyone else has fun.
None of my accomplishments were handed to me on a silver platter. I had to create them from scratch. There's no luck in this model, just sweat. But through the years I've managed to navigate pretty well, and end up smiling. But I smile today not because of an eighteen year old's grandeur of fame and success. But because I have understood that my "way' is no longer the way I originally sought. This "way" is far different, and not readily tangible or explained.
I spent the majority of this year developing things I thought I was going to cut down in so I could spend more time on me: Songsalive! (the non-profit organization supporting and promoting songwriters www.songsalive.org) with new chapters, presence at music conferences and programs and an impactful, educational website; speaking at music conferences to encourage and provide tips for other artists to get out there; producing music for other artists; putting on shows showcasing other artists; created several CD compilations of artists, and offering services, advice and counsel to more artists than ever before... But I do all that because the universe calls me to be this person, this humanitarian, as this is my path.
Amazingly, I still recorded my album, released it, toured 2 continents, landed a 4 page spread in Newsweek Magazine and kept my rank up as one of the most discussed independent music artist there is out there in the world today.
I am not complaining. I know I can do all of this. It's quite impressive to some. To me, this is all part of living life, the art of doing, the doing of art.
But I will not rest on my laurels. Because these laurels are all an illusion, to the real stuff... the Who I Really Am part of it all. It's in this part that I explore, deconstruct, reinvent. NOW. The time is Now. For all the stuff above is just stuff I do, have done, and can easily do again.
Here's my connundrum: I skirt around the borders of the music industry, below the radar, highly involved in what I constantly refer to as the new music revolution, receiving a modicum of success for sure, but I can't sit here and rattle off soundscan Cd sales to you, and record heights of radio play. I can't do that. I don't live in that tangible realm, although some feel that I still need to prove that with numbers. It's a numbers game, the music business, and I cannot reduce myself to numbers alone.
I live in the intangible world of lateral creativity, thinking outside the box and dabbling with human spirits. How can you quantify success based on how many souls you touch?
I am sitting here on top of my mountain in the Aussie bush lacking incentive to partake in anything associated to the music business. I have a beautiful album in my hands (extraOrdinary life) that is an opus, a gift, a wonderful year's worth of producing and a lifetime of stories, that deserves to be out in the world, playing in your radio and itunes headphones, on your CD racks at home.. and I can't even be bothered to contemplate what it means to market this album right now. I am already feeling resistance with various music reps here in Australia. It costs money for a media campaign, and worst still if they tell you radio won't play it even before you even try. I can't even get my agency excited about touring, because I'm not excited. I KNOW what needs to be done, and it's the KNOWING of what it REALLY means to push a record, ANYWHERE, that turns me off. I've been doing this for 9 years and I'm asking myself, "IS THIS MY "WAY"?
We know where I am. I know where I am. Again, I'm not complaining. I get people emailing me daily on how inspired they are, how they love my music. I sell records. Yes I do. And books, and downloads and and and. I'm a professional artist. I don't have a day job.
BUT WHAT DO I WANT NOW? WHO DO I WANT TO BECOME?
It's here that I vascillate, between the glories, the stories of my past, and now reinvent for my future. We are all in unchartered territories, and the mystery of it all is definitely where IT'S AT. So I leap empty-handed into the void, and wait for my own deliverance.
Come back soon.