Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

Old Paradigms Die Hard

I listened to a Marc Maron interview with Lorde today and he was asking about her process, trying to understand how she wrote and recorded┬ámusic. I love Marc’s podcast, his humanity and ability to connect with other people in a free-flowing conversation is just fascinating. He is very smart and unguarded, and usually (eventually) gets his guests to the same place. It almost always makes for compelling conversation.

So he’s talking to Lorde about how her first album was made, and she she happily begins talking about how there wasn’t a single “real” instrument on it. Marc, somewhat confused, asked “What do you mean, no one’s playing anything?” to which she joyfully replied “You know, the computer makes the sound” (I’m paraphrasing here). He pauses for a moment, clearly trying to understand what she means, and says “That makes me kind of sad.” I was struck by and appreciated his vulnerable honesty – but

I am more than a little mystified that people of a certain age have such a hard time accepting that music is no longer exclusively made by people sitting around playing it live, and the implication that because humans are not actually playing acoustic or electric instruments in real time, somehow it isn’t “real.” I’m as big a fan of highest order musicianship as anyone – I spent most of my adult life practicing my instruments and playing and recording live. But as each new wave of technology appeared, I jumped on it – as a creative musician, I wanted to explore these new paradigms that began presenting themselves, and I wanted to know what I could do with them. For young people born in the last 30 years or so, this is all they have ever known – and it’s not a bad thing. Music made this way is no less “real” than music made by a group of people playing together in real time.

To believe that playing and singing live is the only “real” music is just Luddite elitism. Yeah, it’s fucking great and magical when it happens – but it’s no more “real” than a kid making music in her bedroom with a computer. It’s all just creative expression. The old paradigm is amazing, but so is the new one. It’s not sad – it’s a new world, full of new possibilities. As an artist it’s all in your sandbox. Technology is just giving us new tools to help us express our vision.

Permit me to make an observation here: Getting old is an unstoppable process of physical aging. But being old is a choice – one that begins when you draw a line in the sand and say “That’s it – the old way was better, and I’m not learning anymore about this newfangled bullshit.”

I am not yet ready to go there…