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Info nom nom nom? Write a song instead?

How do you balance the need or desire to learn with the need or desire to create?

I’ve been long interested in learning about the machinations of the American music industry, but being in Tokyo, getting my hands on trade publications like Billboard is a bit tricky – and a bit expensive.

So it was with great joy that I belatedly discovered Google Reader. Yes, my 67-year-old mother who vividly remembers WWII has a Kindle and a SmartPhone and I didn’t even know about Google Reader? Shut it.

Unfortunately when I discover something new I’m like a kid on a sugar high and I ended up adding something like 40 music industry blogs to my Reader. Meaning 130+ posts to read a DAY. FML. Fortunately my undergrad literary theory days taught me how to skim, but trying so hard to keep on top of new industry developments makes me wonder if I should just shut the door on the noise (or rather close my browser), unsubscribe, shut off my computer and get back to songwriting.

For those of you creative types who are also info junkies, if you work too much on your craft do you worry you’re missing the passing technology ship? And if you’re too addicted to reading about industry developments, do you feel like you’re not creating enough?

How do you balance the need or desire to learn with the need or desire to create?

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Posted by on December 11, 2010 in Music Business, Songwriting

 

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Tokyo Hummers

Get yo head out of the gutter, boy. It’s not what you think.

As probably the only person in Tokyo without an iPod or some other music playing device, I often hum to clear my head and drown out the constant barrage of noise that this city has to offer. While short on NYC’s charming horn-riding antics and inter-personal warfare, Tokyo’s got everything from train door closing chimes to shop owners screaming out “Welcome!” if you get within 5 feet of their property, and my personal favorite – trucks screaming out announcements in a high-pitched women’s voice that go “The truck is turning left, be careful! The truck is turning left, be careful!”

Seriously?

So what, do you ask, am I humming? Today it was an eclectic mix of “Edge of a Broken Heart” (Vixen), “Baby” (Justin Bieber – shut it) and “Defying Gravity” (wicked). No… homo?

On an aside, I’ve noticed the absence (thankfully!) of folks that sing or rap along to whatever they’re listening to. That shit drives me crazy since 9/10 people have no flow and are totally tone-deaf. Way to make my ears bleed.

So yeah – I’ve noticed that NO ONE IN TOKYO HUMS. It’s bizarre. They’re all so… quiet? Is humming considered culturally rude? According to this, humming is a rude habit – equal to drumming your fingers on the table: http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=76882.65;wap2

Do you hum when you go about your day? If so, why? If not, why?

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2010 in Music

 

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The Sumo Playing Folky

Last Thursday was a Japanese national holiday whose name and purpose escapes me. But I took advantage of the day off to catch my first sumo tournament. Over five hours of lumbering giant sumo swagger. Highly recommended. Especially when drunk. And the fans are f*cking insane.

During the matches I couldn’t help but think about how different the life of your average professional sumo player (or most likely the life of any professional athlete) must be from the rest of us. For one thing, once you decide to pursue sumo, there’s no turning back – as I understand it, you join your sumo stable (team/family) at around age 16-17 and then your entire life until retirement is about eating, breathing and sleeping sumo.

So what exactly does sumo have to do with the ramblings of a scatterbrained singer/songwriter?

At the risk of making some rather sweeping cultural generalizations, sumo reinforces my view of Japanese culture’s emphasis on repetition, perfection, linear thinking and upholding of rules and tradition. And while I was technically raised in a Japanese/Jewish household, as someone who can barely stick with a task for 10 minutes, I wonder if I’m a perverse representation of stereotypical American culture – bucking authority and rules, thinking non-linearly, being creative and intense but sometimes sloppy in execution.

I can’t even begin to fathom the mindset required to dedicate 1000% of my life to something. Sure, I’ve been doing music in one capacity or another for almost 30 years, but my goals and practices have deviated wildly from year to year. I honestly feel that the only thing that has stayed consistent is my desire to write and perform songs.

As someone with diagnosed a.d.d., I can’t help but wonder how much of my way of doing things is because I was raised in the U.S. What if I was raised in Japan instead. Would I be a more linear, methodical and even-tempered person? Would I have set my sights on trying to be a professional pop-rock star from the get-go without my deviations to angry folk rock and 80s covers? Or might I be stuck in an office job with a wife and kids – and if that was the case, would I even mind it that much?

Nature vs. nurture when it comes to how you approach your creativity and your career.

Given your current career and/or what you see as your life-path, how has the culture/country in which you were raised shaped it? Do you think you’d be that different if you were born and raised somewhere else?

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2010 in Music

 

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