Got this in my email box today....interesting.
I was having dinner last night with Black Tape For A Blue Girl's vocalist Athan (check out his new project, NOIR). We talked about the "why?" of making art. What drives artists to create? I know that for me "in the old days," art was about working through angst and sadness. Getting it out of my head and into some sort of tangible form. The process of making music was tense, obsessive, and conflicted, but I did enjoy the expression. It wasn't about the supposed "fame" attached to being an artist; though (in the mid-90s) Blacktape was somewhere near the top of the pack of independent American darkwave acts. It was nice to have a lot of people experiencing my art and it was nice to see the checks that came with success. Somewhere along the line, these disparate things merged into one thing. Sales = Success.
But sales are a hard thing to quantify in this new era of the music industry when so much music is consumed for free by "fans" who obtain albums through unauthorized channels. I don't feel a connection with the listener, anymore. I'll admit I've grown quite disheartened by this. I've always run my own mail-order business, so I used to have a direct connection to my audience. But CDs (and downloads) don't sell much anymore, I don't see evidence of my music going out to listeners. I feel my creations lie dormant, nothing but bits of data somewhere in personal and digital memory.
I've done a few things to rethink my connection to my art. Wayne Dyer has a phrase, "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."
I started a Bandcamp page http://blacktapeforabluegirl.bandcamp.com/album/mesmerized-by-the-sirens-free-download
afew months ago, and put some of my music up for free. There is something really sweet in seeing over 800 combined downloads for Archive 01 and A chaos of desire. Of that, 14% of you felt like giving me a little something for my work. It's not enough $$$s to pay my rent for the month, but it's something... your contributions show me that my music matters and you appreciate it enough to give a little something for it.
Those payments deposit directly into my PayPal account. I have a PayPal debit card which my son and I have rebranded as my "FanPal"
When I pay for apple juice, veggie chicken nuggets, and avocados at the local bodega, I pull out this card and remind myself it is you - my fans - paying for our food. And that feels really nice. It's not just anonymous cash coming out of my bank account. It's your love and support.
See: Change the way you think about things, and the things you think about change.
Income from sales of my novel, Rye, works the same way. Your payment goes to my debit card, and I buy dinner! : )
But let me get back on track here, because the subject was, Why do I make art?
One of the most rewarding things about creating art is having it received. Art is about communication. It's about some wacky idea I had in my head, that I converted into reality; somebody experiences that, and the connection is made. Whether in the form of lyrics; or now, in the form of my novel.
I really love hearing from people as they read Rye. Hearing their thoughts about the characters, their interpretations of motivations, their interest in the identity and gender topics I discuss. That communication and exchange is what makes art exciting to me. It's not the money (though don't get me wrong, money is nice, and I'd love to sell enough books to be a full time artist), it's the connection. The communication. These characters I've invented that seem real enough to make you want to turn the page, and learn what they do next.
As you read Rye, feel free to message me at Facebook or here, and tell me how you're getting along. What interests you, excites you, or confuses you?
To say thanks! for your interest and support, I've uploaded another Black Tape For A Blue Girl album for you to download for free at Bandcamp. This is Blacktape's second album, from 1987, Mesmerized by the Sirens.
It's been at least a decade since I've listened to Mesmerized. As I was preparing the page today, I streamed it beginning to end. As Rain would say, eyebrow raised, "Fascinating, captain!"
I was twenty-one when I recorded Mesmerized. Listening to it earlier today, I thought: "Huh? What kind of bizarre twenty-one year old writes an album like that!" It's emotional, torn, confused, happy (in moments), dark, dense, beautiful, complex and advanced! If someone sent me a link to this album, and an email, "Hey Mister, check out my demo, what do you think?" I'd be damn impressed! That's not ego talking, it's looking back through more than half-a-lifetime of experience, and hearing what's here! Of course, I hear the 4AD influence, and the Brian Eno influence; but think about it in the context of 1987 (From the top-10 of 1987: 1. "Faith" George Michael 2. "Alone" Heart 6. "La Bamba" Los Lobos 7. "Livin' On A Prayer" Bon Jovi 10. "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life" Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes! This was also the year Dead Can Dance released Within the Realm of a Dying Sun).
Mesmerized is a very fluid, cohesive and rewarding listen.
For the free download, I added two related bonus tracks. A cover of "Jamais Pars" by my other band, Thanatos; and a cover of "Seireenien Lumoama" created with Bleeding Like Mine. Nice stuff!
On the bandcamp page, you can stream Mesmerized by the Sirens for free, or you can download it for free, and when you download you can even leave a little something. And rest assured we'll be buying some of that yummy tomato & basil soup at the bodega, and I'll be thinking of you!
Thanks for supporting of my art,