one of my favorite creators, David Byrne, in his youth and more than a generation later, in an imaginary self conversation:
both images courtesy of www—first by mapplethorpe, second unknown.
david: hi David
David: Hi, david.
david: congratulations on your new book HOW MUSIC WORKS
David: Oh, thanks.
david: looking back from your advanced years, what advice could you give young creators like me?
David: Well, david, as you know, I didn’t really think life was going to turn this way. You are incredibly shy and very much an introvert, and life on stage seems an odd choice for someone like you. I read somewhere that 69% of creative individuals have a mental disorder. You are one of the nutters! Perhaps you even have a mild case of Asperger’s syndrome. Get used to it, and get over your demons, david. Face your fear.
david: hmm…that’s challenging, thanks, David. So once I’ve done that, in a few years, what should I look to then?
David: My second advice would be to forget about the ‘do something else to it’ method. It’s total bologna. Take something and make it yours. Claim it. Be the best at it. Situate yourself in relationship to what else is going on. I wish someone had told me when I was you, to think about the context of my work. How is it being experienced, what location is it recorded for. In other words- context actually determines what is being created (painted, sculpted, written or sung). If I had made music for a chamber hall rather than CBGBs, you can imagine you’d be working quite differently today. Simply because your electric guitar would sound horrible in there. Think about the conditions in which your music is being heard. Is the place small and sounds flat? You might want to start thinking about what it would sound like in open air in, say, Prospect Park 2009.
david: are you serious?
David: As serious as a catatonic schizophrenic who broke a years-long silence to ask Sun Ra: “Do you call that music?