I am going to preface this entry, by saying that I mean no disrespect toward any other genre or style of music, nor do I mean any disrespect for any other artist, entertainer, or performer. I am simply expressing my thanks and gratitude toward the benefits of my style of music.
I am going to start off by asking you a simple question:
What is a Genre? To you? Here is what a Genre is to me, it’s a way of categorizing something without really having to pay any attention to it. It’s sort of like a political party. If I am running for office and I say, “hey, I’m a republican” or, “hey, I’m a democrat” I can expect I will get votes from the party I say I am affiliated with. I feel like this is the problem that Genre’s have created, and more specifically, sub-genres. Post Hardcore, Post Emo, etc etc…..it really does bug me, because I feel like it is saying “I can’t create my own sound, therefore I am going to borrow the weight behind someone else’s to get you to pay attention to me”. Now, I realize that this is somewhat hypocritical, seeing as I use a LOT of other people’s music in my sets and I’m getting ready to release several cover albums. However, I will not claim a sub genre for my music, I am acoustic and I am pop, and that is it.
Why I Hate the Facades Associated with Genres
Ok, so when I see names like “Lead to the Slaughter”, or “Death To Virgins”, I know ok these guys are either some sort of a screamo/EDM mix up or some sort of Metal Band. Which tells me immediately these guys are going to try too hard in the areas that don’t matter, and not hard enough the areas that do. They have locked themselves into fitting a facade. They are most likely some form of SlipKnot knockoff with silly costumes and masks, and all of their posters and songs are dark and supposed to scare me. I really, REALLY, dislike this. I for one have never been into music where I don’t really know who the artist is. Nine Inch Nails, is actually another story. I really like Trent Reznor and I have a lot of respect for him as an entertainer and an artist. Although I’m not a huge tool fan (I know I know, crucify me now) I also have a lot of Respect for Maynard. The reason being, they were able to create their sound, and fit their main genre, without fitting a facade. Trent Reznor decided he was done looking like an emaciated little B*%^& and wanted to change his life and his lifestyle, and he did. He looks incredible now! (no homo…ok maybe a little), but seriously good for you, sir! Maynard just does whatever he wants, as long as he feels it fits his art. I can respect that. This all leads me to another band, that while we are on this subject I can’t leave out, Nirvana. Let’s get one thing straight, I respect Nirvana, and I even like some of their songs. I do not LOVE Nirvana, and I do not believe Kurt Cobain was a god. He was a very sad man, who found some of his great potential and changed the world with it, before he made some serious mistakes. But He DID change the world, and especially the music world, forever. He did it by doing what he loved, his way, and I respect that. Ok, enough of this, I guess it’s time I get to the whole point of this article.
Why I Wrote This Article
I have been in several bands and projects over the years, and one thing I’ve learned is to always be true. I don’t mean this in some cheesy Meme hurling teenage girl way. What I mean is don’t be anything but you. It doesn’t matter if I’m playing one of my songs, or someone else’s, I’m still me when I perform it. My personality, my energy, is still present. I don’t try to fit any facade. Just because Chester See, or Ed Sheeran, or hell even John Mayer may act or look or seem a certain way when they perform or talk to a crowd….or write a blog post….it has no sway over how I do mine. While I keep in mind the principles behind what they do, it does not define me if I don’t feel like it is me. If they happen to do something that I do (as in a tendency that we have in common) so be it. I fronted a rock band, recently, for several years. Some of that time I spend trying to be something I wasn’t, and some of that time I was me, fronting a rock band. Guess which one of those two guys actually performed better? Actually made the crowd more excited? Guess which one of those guys could tangibly raise the energy in the room like I had a knob to control it? If you guessed the guy pretending to be something he wasn’t, you failed. It was when I was myself.
What I am Thankful For
It’s really simple. I am so, so thankful, that I can just be myself when I perform. I play 4-6 shows per week, on average. Sometimes more, sometimes less, of course. And at ALL of those shows, I’m just me, Just Shea, Just Playing Music. I don’t even need the crowd to feed off of their energy anymore, I literally can create my own energy in the room, from nothing. The key is this little thing called believing in yourself.
I am thankful that whether I am playing an original or a cover I can make it may own, my precious…..(ok that was maybe too far). Seriously though, I don’t need to be a hard headed “I only play one cover….per show” kind of guy or a “no no you only play one original per show” kind of guy. I play what I want, when I want. The key is in what I actually want. I want the maximum energy possible for me and the people listening to me. So I don’t just play an original when I don’t feel it fits, and say “well take it or leave it this is me”. That’s like going on a date, pissing your pants and asking the girl to pay and saying “take it or leave it, this is me”….99% of the time…she’s going to leave it. And if she doesn’t, you have a whole other problem or your hands haha. Which leads me to my next point….
I’m thankful that I’ve acquired the ability to discern what to play when, and fairly accurately assess what direction I need to take a show in order to keep my audience captive, attentive and responsive. When I say “anyone can write a song”, I know that not ANYONE can write A SONG….but I mean anyone can write a song. Oh great, you put some chords and wrote some words over it, fantastic. Now, make a room full of strangers connect to it and to take it a step further, make them connect to you. Ah, yeah, here’s where it all changes. See, if you understood how to read and connect to an audience you would know how to do this. But you wrote a song and stopped there, but it doesn’t stop there my friend, it starts there. I’ll let you think on that one.
I’m thankful I don’t have to fit a facade. I don’t have to wear a silly costume, or carry a silly attitude, or wear chains or dress like a little gay boy (as Eminem so eloquently puts it – when he refers to boy bands…too clarify), I just show up as me. I admit, there is always room for improvement! Which is why I am constantly trying to get into better shape, I am trying to always dress nicer, sharper (mind you, not too fit a facade, but it’s nice to look nice). My point is, I’m doing these things to better myself, not fit some musical stereotype.
This was a long blog post, and I have so much more I want to write, but I think I’m going to end it here, before I lose whatever percentage of readers are still actually reading this post.All of this to say, do the best you can with what you have. Strive to be the best at what you do, and everything that entails. Don’t be lazy, don’t let fear hold you back, and don’t be afraid to fail. Also, don’t be afraid of criticism or scrutiny. If you were a complete failure, no one would notice you. You have to do something right before someone can notice what you may need to improve (my way of saying ‘what you’re doing wrong’). Keep reading, keep listening and hopefully this can apply to your lives. Thanks for reading!