#ArtBlog 33: Why There's No 'Just' In 'Just Go For It'

#ArtBlog 33: Why There’s No ‘Just’ In ‘Just Go For It’

September 2006

When it comes to new music, it seems to me that some people are just genetically predisposed to become stars… But what about the rest of us?

Of course, lots of hard work is crucial to anyone’s ultimate success – what I’m talking about here is the raw material, which, when you head down to your local bar to watch new artists who are still in the process of getting their act together (literally), you see a lot of.

Since moving to Berlin, I’ve found myself visiting and participating in open-mic nights, for the first time in I-dunno-how-long. To go from performing to thousands in Australia and Japan, to playing to a handful of semi-interested barflies at your local, is… humbling.

Folks head to these open-mic nights, week after week, to see a mixed bag of performers, ranging from the up-and-coming to the not-going-nowhere-else. It’s amazing to me when, every now and again, somebody unknown steps onstage who is just gifted on all levels – visually beautiful, musically effortless, artistically compelling in some way (even if it’s just seeing the combination of the first two in a context as humble as that).

As a punter, I go one of two ways when this happens – and, to summarise all the various factors such as mood, self-esteem, self-absorption, activity, context, conceit etc, let’s just call those two ways “a good day” and “a bad day”.

On a good day, it’s really exciting to think: “I may be watching the ‘I was at that show!’ show before this person blows up”, so good are they, so incongruously anonymous for all their talent, that I feel certain that it’s only a matter of time until a lot more people know about this artist. However, on a more personal / conceited / “artist” level – i.e. on a bad day – it floors my heart and blows my mind; it makes me wonder what it is I have to offer that makes me worth watching, when the person sitting next to you in the audience is younger, better-looking, and a more technically proficient singer or musician whose only reason for not being on that stage is some baffling lack-of-confidence issue. It makes me wonder: perhaps it’s nothing more than my all-consuming need to be on the stage that has put me on it; perhaps it’s an unsatiated hunger that drives me, and not a gift that demands it be shared with the world. Perhaps that’s the point.

The most convoluted part of all this is: those artists who keep going kind of have to just keep going, keep blocking out the forces in the world that might act as obstacles, a process which has nothing to do with musical talent; while those who don’t keep going, and who probably should, or who have more to offer than a lot of people who do keep going, bow out of the race for reasons that I sometimes can’t understand, probably any more than than they could understand the places my mind goes when I’m watching them go for it.

I know two such super-talented friends / artists who have only recently, after years of hiding their talent, just gone for it: they’ve not only begun creating new music, they’ve decided to take it out into the world, and deal with all the co-requisite head-fuckery of that particular process. I’m excited. I’m inspired. Things are beginning! Today is a good day.