Life vs Creativity (2/4): When in Your Life Were You Most Creative?

Think about this for a while. You probably didn’t suddenly decide one day to be creative. You’ve most likely been creative throughout your entire life; but when were you the most creative?

I asked myself this question not too long ago, and it really started to help me understand how my creativity is affected by what was (and is) going on around me. My most creative and productive point in life was actually between the ages of 16-18. In this time, I studied 3 A-Levels whilst still living with my parents. I was lucky enough for them to feed me and keep the roof over my head. I studied and did what I needed in order to tick the boxes. I never felt overloaded with work, and I had an abundance of free time to use to my own means.

I was free…

I was free to use my time to my own means. I had chosen the A-levels that I wanted to study, and I had a drive to learn new skills. I was inspired by some amazing teachers who were passionate about their subjects, and who were passionate for us all to succeed. I felt comfortable. I felt happy. I saw a creative direction that I wanted to take and pursue.

Thinking about this time in my life made me realise something so simple that I was shocked I had never thought much about it before.

Time + Freedom = Creativity

Learning this for myself was a stepping stone towards creative success. All I needed to do was find the time and freedom from life in order to be creative… Right?

“But wait… Now i’m all ‘grown-up’ –  I have a job, I have to pay the rent, I have to buy my own food, my own clothes, pay the bills, pay to fix anything that breaks or replace it, clean everything, take the rubbish out each week, buy the Christmas and Birthday presents each year, oh and cover that extra shift at work, meet so and so for that meeting…” etc etc etc

Life < Creativity

We all grow up, and life starts to get in the way of our creativity. Life takes away our time and our freedom, meaning that it very quickly becomes greater; and more important than our creativity.Through experience however, I’m a firm believer that you have control over your own life, and that we must dictate how we wish our lives to be run. Life will always get in the way, so we have to learn how to work around life, and introduce creativity into our lives on a daily basis to fill the hole it once left.

In order to do this we need to revolutionise our workflow to be more productive creatives by using our time wisely. In previous blogs I’ve spoken about planning, and this will come into play when revolutionising our creative workflow, but the key to this comes in the actions we take when we are in the moment of that planned time; and we are doing the things that we have planned. In this moment it is about speed, efficiency and discipline;  something that can only be achieved through premeditation and practise. This is a step towards creating a happy medium. A place where we’re not fighting a battle of Life vs Creativity anymore, but an equal standing between the two.

Revolutionising Workflow = Life Creativity

Playlist: Inspiring Influence

I recently went on a journey to Bristol, and found for the first time in a while I was sat, on my own, headphones on and listening to music without interruption from the outside world.

Sitting behind me I have shelving holding around 500+ CDs spanning multiple genres, and on this thing I’m writing on (computer) I have access to the worlds library of music through services like Spotify, iTunes, YouTube etc.

I’ve been thinking more and more recently about how my ears have become pigeonholed to a genre since using Spotify. I used it to find new music, but this is often through the function of ‘related artists’ to what I’m already listening to. For this reason It’s very rare these days that I search for a new artist/band to listen to that aren’t based around an electronic backing, as this is predominantly what I listen to these days.

I’ve had a playlist in Spotify for some time. It was labeleld ‘Sounds to re-create’. These weren’t tracks to copy, but more the soundworld that I wanted to start exploring more. I’d play it whilst running, walking to work, cleaning the house or in the shower (surprisingly the shower thing is when it all started… My girlfriend had bought me one of those bluetooth shower speakers)

What I started realising is that yes, this had a big impact on how I was writing music, but I wasn’t sure if it was positive. I think it definitely helped me to find the soundworld I was looking for, but has it made my creativity stagnant?

Today I decided that I was going to expand on this playlist, and start to incorporate more. I then started to recognise that my music isn’t just influenced by what I’m listening to now. Musically speaking (as apposed to soundworld) I’m heavily influenced by what I was listening to in the past. I find that melody lines are influenced by Pat Metheny guitar licks I used to hear being played by my Dad (he had this mixtape that would be played in the car on long holiday car journeys), harmonies that I personally relate to nu-metal vocals (Deftones, Korn, Linkin Park etc), build-ups I feel are influenced by post-rock (This Will Destroy You, Sigur Ros), Rhythm and Basslines from Hip-Hop/Beats, Nu-Jazz etc (Flying Lotus, Shigeto, Bonobo, Mount Kimbie, Cinematic Orchestra).

As I’m writing this I’m realising more and more where my sound has developed from, but also that I need to make sure those multiple influences are being recognised by my ears on a regularly basis, rather than just thinking of them from time to time.

So. For this reason I spent a good few hours (seriously, like 5 hours doing this) surfing through my music collection, and picking one track from almost every artist. The track’s I chose weren’t necessarily my favourite track (although some simply are), more just a track that might incorporate the bands overall sound (quiet and loud peaks).

From doing this, I have also started to find the connections between bands that I listen to a little more. I’m heavily influenced by harmony over genre, I couldn’t tell you the specifics but I feel that there is a running theme. I was never a genre based listener as such, more if I found an artist or band that I literally liked the ‘sound’ of (whether that be electronic, jazz, nu-metal, rock, whatever) that I would want to hear more, and often aim to buy their catalog of albums. (My amazon wishlist is crazy big)

Anyway, I would like to share this playlist with you. If I’m honest, the genres aren’t exactly wide-spanning, but what I believe you will find is that if you listen to a bands catalog, there’s often a lot more going on with them.

I also recognise that the time I spent listening to music most was whilst in my mid-late teens/early 20s, and where I developed most of my CD catalog working a day job and living with my parents (I had access to way more stuff through my Dad’s vast collection whilst I was living at home. I’m still trying to buy all the stuff I really enjoyed of his)

I’d also like to add that yes, a handful of these artists/bands I’m not proud to have liked, but I wanted to recognise the music I listened to whilst growing up. Some of them were one hit wonders for me, If I hear one track I like, I will often buy their album and give it a few listens despite the stigma attached to them, and they will surely have influenced me in some shape or form.

I’m planning on updating this playlist slowly as time goes on. Some tracks may be replaced. So enjoy, maybe you’ll find something you like too. It is in a vague order, but I suggest hitting random and going from there. See what it comes up with.