op-ed: one-man band – why you don’t need a band to make music
By Sound Check
June 4, 2015
Ever since about five years ago, I have been itching to be in a band. If not join a band, build one from the ground up. I’ve put up craigslist ads, joined Bandmix, even the group Let’s Join a Band here on AFROPUNK. My efforts proved less than fruitful. The reason is because I have always pictured in my head some killer rock or new wave songs to write that requires musicians taking care of what I can’t do. I can’t play drums, don’t play guitar anymore, and I know little about the business as I should. Unfortunately, for about five years, trying to put a band together has been an absolute struggle that led to an ill depression. (Creating music on your own for years can wear you out, mostly because there is only so much you can do.) It took me till this past year to realize that being left alone with your ideas might be the best thing to ever happen to someone.
By Lightning Pill, AFROPUNK Contributor
The reason why is because if being alone with whatever you have in your house forced you to do anything, it’s to 1) be creative (rather: be resourceful) and to 2) be able to develop your own sound from somewhere else. Being a big indie music listener, nothing feels more discouraging than hearing a thousand rock bands that sound the same, making you feel that in order to get attention, you might want to sound like them. But…what if you don’t have a drummer, you can’t or won’t play guitar, what if your musical tastes and your purposes completely differ from who you listen to? All one can do is just pull out every instrument in your house and get to work.
When I made humanbeyondrepair, having one keyboard, a roll-out piano, a laptop, and my voice forced me to be creative in ways that both inspired and infuriated the hell out of me. How was I going to try and create a great record with such sparse tools? I’m sure it was the kind of question that Jack White once asked himself, when he played using a plastic guitar. This exercise pushed me out of my comfort zone, and forced me to be more creative in my endeavors, and each time, I felt the kind of anxiety that would only come from trying to find your own way, and not exactly knowing where you going, both from making a record and from figuring out how to play it live.
Toro y Moi
I’ve felt crazy because recording, writIng, singing, and doing everything felt a lot like singing to myself. I have wondered how to make this album better than the last album I have made. I even had to work with drums that you can tell was synthetic. At the end of the day, I don’t regret doing it because it meant that I didn’t have anybody telling me what I should and shouldn’t do for the wrong reasons. I don’t have to worry too much about relating to the majority with this stuff. Hell, I can turn any kind of feelings I have into songs, if I wanted to. Being all alone with my music is a lot like living life: it forces you to figure out exactly what kind of person you are made of and what you are capable of doing. Are you the kind of person who needs a bit of help or are you a more independent person?
This isn’t made to knock anyone who wants to be in a band. If you want to, band together and make music. Do what you can. What I am saying is that if ever you feel alone in what you do, don’t knock your ability to try and take on what you can on your own. You’ll be surprised at how much independence (with a little bit of motivation and stress) can do for you. Hell, if all goes well, you might have a band wanting to join you. 🙂
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