When looking for a new direction, or trying out new sounds – or even when you’re wanting to just get your uniqueness on the page or on a record, I find it’s best to do this with the help of others. I love working in collaboration with others. It soothes my soul and keeps me sane often.
This hasn’t been the case through most of my career. I started out loving the “lone ranger” approach to writing and even recording. Even though I knew I couldn’t get most of what I was after without the help of a much more developed producer – I had learned enough about it, and I’ve had some capacity to record at home and demo things since the beginning. So mostly, that’s what I did. It wasn’t until Stereofox made it’s first record, with Deron Johnson, that I finally figured out how important the producer really is in the process. And if you’re going to call yourself a producer (which I now do, but I have my limits) – you need to be aware of how much experience you need to do so. Most of the best producers I know have worlds of experience – professional and personal. This is equally important for recording and performing artists.
That first experience opened my eyes in a major way! It didn’t happen overnight, but over time I began writing with others. I started with my band, and moved on to working with many great writers. After all this time, I still enjoy the process of working alone. What you do on your own time is related to your craft. You have to get good at that. But then you also have to make room for the growth. Going into a writing or recording session is like going into battle. You need to be well practiced so that your skills become your instinct, and reflex. When you don’t have to think about what you’re doing, you have room to grow. Maybe I look at this way because I practiced martial arts for so long, or maybe it’s just a humanistic approach. Either way, it seems to work.
I wake up every day loving the fact that I’m collaborating on so many levels with many people around me. We need those relationships, and we need that outer perspective in our lives, especially as artists. At least, I know I do.