If you know me you know that I'm a fan of Tim Ferriss. On his latest podcast he interviewed one of my heroes Rick Rubin.
When you think of the word "successful" what does it mean?
Successful is someone who enjoys their life. Great at what they do. Is curious and continually pushing forward and wanting to be better than they were yesterday without beating themselves up about it.
Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks said, "You let music be discovered not manufactured." What is the meaning of that?
We have a whole process. It's different for every artist. We try to go on a journey and let the artist discover who they are. And in the process the best art comes from them. It's like a getting to be their true selves and trying to take away all of the things that get in the way of the artistic process. For example any commercial considerations usually get in the way. If you are thinking about making music that is going to get on the radio chances are you won't be using your own voice to it's most potent, singular, finding what your personal gift is. So that's one of many things. It's getting closer to the source and not being distracted by any nonsense that will get in the way of the art being as good as it can be.
What are other things that get in the way of artist doing their best work?
Concerned about what other people think. Competition. Wanting to do better than someone else. Self doubt. Ego.
What manifestation of ego?
If someone thinks that everything they do is great. They might not be willing to edit themselves enough. Or work hard enough. If I can write ten great songs at five minutes each and those are the best songs and I'm just gonna record them and put them out. Then those might not be as good as the ones you develop over a longer period of time. For example and that might be an egotistical artist that thinks everything I do is just great.
When you have the opposite. When you have an artist that is doubting themselves. What do you recommend?
I think most artists do. That's more typically self doubt is the case. I think if your goal is to be better than where you were. If you are competing only with yourself. It's a more realistic place to be. You know if you say I don't want to write songs unless I can write songs better than The Beatles ... It's hard road. But if you say I want to write a better song tomorrow than the song I wrote yesterday. That's a realistic, that's something that can be done. And if you write a better song than you wrote yesterday, everyday then you continue to get better and better and better. It really is small steps. Also trying not to think too much. Because so much of the job is more emotion and heart work than it is head work. The head comes in after to look at what the heart has presented and to organize it. But the initial inspiration comes from a different place and it's not the head and it's not an intellectual activity. It's more of a inspiration so the key first is to release. To do any activities you can to tune into inspiration. Things like meditating help. Diving into art in general. Doesn't have to be even your modality. Going to museums and looking at beautiful art can help you write better songs. Reading great novels. Reading great works of art. Seeing a great movie could inspire a great song. Reading poetry. Submerging yourself in great art and the more you can do to get out of the mode of competition. Where you are looking at what other people are doing and wanting to be better than them or be inspired by them. The only way to use the inspiration of other artists is if you submerge yourself in the greatest works of all time. Which is a great thing to do. If you listen to the greatest music ever made that would be a better way to work thru to find your own voice to matter today. Than listening to what is on the radio now, and thinking I want to compete with this. It's more of a stepping back and looking at a bigger picture than what is going on at the moment.