Music and video creators have benefited greatly over the past few years as electronic developments have delivered unimaginable power. What used to take a studio full of gear, now even a home studio can be replicate on a moderately powerful computer at a fraction of the cost. My first experience of home recording was a Tascam 244 Portastudio: 4 tracks on cassette for £1299. Now you can have everything you need to make high-quality recordings and still have change for a bag of chips and the bus fare home.
However, technology has not only offered us amazing ways to express our creativity; it also has the potential to hinder us.
Before we even get into our studios, an even more important process takes place — when our imagination starts to run wild, we conceive our ideas, write our lyrics and in some cases, even hum the tunes.
For all that creation to happen, a creative needs time and space. But if, like me, you’ve been seduced into carrying your phone with you 24/7, which is now often a smart phone with the internet, email and social media tagging along, then you’ll realize that we can get easily sucked into this ‘always on’ world.
This “always on” world is always answering calls, emails, texts, commenting on Facebook, or surfing the web. But while we’re electronically leashed to the online world, it can often disconnect us from the real world. For example, instead of being part of a group sharing coffee, or having dinner, we are constantly checking our phone. Perhaps it’s just me? But I look around at the other diners - and I think not.
Here’s the most damaging thing for a creative … this “always on” world is a world with no gaps, no spaces, no blank canvases, this world has no place to daydream.
I came to this realization when I forgot to take my phone with me (!!) when I went to my coffee shop down the street. As I sat there, I suddenly caught myself zoning out, staring into space, considering things, day-dreaming. It is in this place that my ideas are conceived, nurtured and even if not fully formed, well, at least they have a chance of seeing the light of day. Perhaps our constant use of technology is making a generation of impotent creatives, sterilized by all the ‘noise’ constantly streaming through our handy, “helpful” tech.
Now before you think these are the musings of a luddite technophobe, you are less likely to meet anyone more into having all the latests gadgets than I am. The only way I could be any earlier an adopter of a new product, would be to invent it and build the prototype myself in my garage. This article is not a rage against technology; it’s just an encouragement to find balance, to see the essential value in retreat.
In a post-industrialised society, we are not encouraged to value rest and contemplation - they are seen as at best “fluffy” and at worst “lazy.”
Many people simply can’t disconnect, and live in a constant state of stress. So I would almost go as far as saying it is the responsiblity of artists to do it for the rest of the world - to create things of wonder and beauty as an antidote to this mad world.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the best feature of my mobile phone is the ability to leave it at home. In fact, I now make a point of leaving my phone at home so that I can disconnect and daydream. It’s usually not long before the ideas start flooding out and that idea could be your/my best song yet!
Perhaps you already live in this world, and if you do then I’m glad to be back with you because until I returned, I didn’t realize how badly I missed it.