rockstar in training: being a tortured artist

April 22, 2011

I’ve been working hard on solidifying the songs for my first solo album, “The Awesomest of Them All.” I’ve been drawing concept art, re-writing songs, starting new songs. I have been thinking about props, stage setups and costumes. I’ve even been thinking ahead to the creative concept for my next album. I am stressed the fuck out, y’all.

Words by Pam Newman

I try not to complain much about my situation, and that’s honestly not my current intention. I’m lucky that I can even take the time to do all this stuff. Everything I’m doing right now is a choice. I wanted to quit my job. It was causing me to suffer, and I wouldn’t go back. I don’t think anyone (in this economy) would pay me enough to make me seriously consider it.

I’m having “artistic,” stresses. The source of this stress isn’t something that our society really embraces as legitimate reasons to complain. They’re all associated with my perfectionism and my insane need-to-always-over-achieve. “I just can’t get this song quite right!”, “This has to sound like a combination of my favorite influences, and nothing like my old band!”, “I really want this particular song to stand out as my best songwriting EVER.”…

It would be in really poor form for me to bring this shit up to my friends working at jobs they hate, and expect them to give even the smallest of fucks. I mean, imagine if I was your, “Professional Rockstar,” friend (who hasn’t earned a cent from one recording yet). We’re hanging out and I come to you complaining that I’m so stressed out over my own internal pressures. Mostly just some paranoia about perhaps taking a gamble on something that won’t be profitable. All of it seasoned morbidly with some over-driven, success-obsessed perceptions that the good music I’m writing might actually suck. Meanwhile they’re living fairly comfortably under their mom’s roof, eating home-cooked meals for free. Yeah, I’d tell me to kiss my ass too!

But these stresses are real, and they’re causing me to procrastinate in things I love. Things such as this very column, a little side hustle I’ve got going on. There are a few things I have been doing, other than obsessing about my music and career. I’ve been blogging about random BS on my personal blog, learning more about music, figuring out how I can take online music classes this summer and listening to lots and lots and lots of music.

I have had a few music classes. I took piano when I was a teenager, and I’ve had some loose vocal coaching. All of this education occurred maybe 10 years ago, or longer. I’ve never taken guitar lessons. Although I have lots of friends who play guitar, they’ve essentially given me pointers, and theory information. So most of what I know, I figured out on my own, or researched on the internet. (I’m a nerd, remember?)

Listening to music is obviously something I’ve always loved. When I made a conscious decision to become more than a listener and transform into a participant in music, the way I listened to music changed a little. I always listened to the layers of music. I hear the rhythm, the bass lines, the melody, how the melody interacts with the rhythm. Now I listen for the production aspects and songwriting technique. How does the voice sound? Are there effects on the instruments? Was this song produced using real instruments or computer generated samples? How do the lyrics interact with the melody? What chord progression is being used, and for what parts of the song?

All that kinda stuff. I’ve been getting lost in all of that. Listening to music I love, and trying to do some alchemy to turn it all into something old but new. My goal is to make some good music people can rock the fuck out to and have a good time listening to. If I can write some semi-inspirational lyrics along while telling my personal stories, then this will all be a success.

Here’s hoping my inner monsters don’t fuck that up for me.

Keeping it awesome every day,
Your rockstar in training-
Pam Newman