In this creative strategies article, Logic expert and Dutty Artz label owner Matt Shadetek discusses Seth Godin’s latest book, The Icarus Deception, and the idea of facing the void of possible failure as a necessary process for finding new creative territory.
Facing The Void
Some people aren’t prepared to be artists. Skilled entertainers or crafts people, sure. But artists? No. But why?
What’s the difference?
The difference lies in the ability to think of an idea and simultaneously think ‘”this may not work” while trying it anyway. This is to face the void and not back down, to seek new territory even though the path is unclear ahead. These are a few of the ideas that come from Seth Godin’s excellent new book The Icarus Deception. I recommend it highly if you’re someone who aspires to make art.
The Icarus Deception
In The Icarus Deception Godin stretches the definition of art to include anything which breaks new ground, takes risks, or touches people. His definition includes doctors, business people, and service providers–people we don’t usually think of as artists. Perhaps we could use a more precise word than art to discuss this broader definition but I think that Godin’s choice is a useful one for discussing the area of creative risk-taking. In our own discipline of making music this can also become an interesting and important conflict.
Once we get to a certain level of technical mastery with our music creation, we are able to understand what is going on in any number of commercially successful songs and we can see a way to construct something similar. But some of us want something more than commercial success. We want to create something which broadens the discussion, shines light on new territory and inspires others to go further. Creating a banging remix of the pop hit of the month in the latest dance style might get you a lot of DJ gigs but it doesn’t necessarily expand the musical discussion. It doesn’t lead us off into uncharted territory and inspire us to challenge ourselves and do more interesting work. This is fine if your goal is to have a good time and make some money. But these people are entertainers, not artists.
Having a Conversation About Intentions
This is an important conversation to have with yourself or with your musical collaborators: what are we trying to do? Are we making art to receive approval from others? Applause? Money? Panties thrown on stage? Or are you trying to create something original?
Although it may seem that I have a clear answer to this question, I do not. I want ALL of the above things, not just one or two, and I think many of us feel the same way.
This is why the conversation is important–because your own answers may surprise you. Or you may realize that you are trying to move towards two conflicting goals and therefore making little progress. And if you find that you really want one of those things more than the others, then your answers may help you to move more consciously towards that idea.
The answer to the question is personal. There are rewards and risks that go along with each choice. No path is the easy path; each will be difficult in its own way. I suggest that you attempt to have this conversation regularly with yourself and your music partners to become conscious about the goals you want to reach. Good luck.
About Matt Shadetek
Matt Shadetek is one of New York City’s most exciting producers. His live sets encompass contemporary Dancehall, UK Funky, and Dubstep, all delivered with Shadetek’s unique production voice which bridges the underground-mainstream divide. He’s one of the rare DJs who can rock a crowd with sets composed solely of his own dancefloor bangers and remixes.
Matt’s early love for Hip Hop and Dancehall along with edgy electronic sounds led to his Warp Records debut album Burnerism as part of the duo Team Shadetek. While Matt was living in Berlin and touring Europe, the followup LP Pale Fire was released, featuring the underground hit “Brooklyn Anthem”. The hit song kick-started a dance craze in the Brooklyn reggae scene (leading to over 100 fan videos of kids dancing to it).
Returning to NYC, Matt founded the Dutty Artz label/production crew with DJ /Rupture. Shadetek produced Jahdan Blakkamoore’s debut album, Buzzrock Warrior (!K7), pioneering its signature Reggae-Dubstep-Rap sound. In 2009 he also teamed up with Rupture to release the mix album Solar Life Raft (The Agriculture). His latest release, on Dutty Artz, is Flowers, an effervescent solo instrumental effort that references dubstep, UK Funky and Garage. He has toured internationally both solo and accompanied by Jahdan as vocalist.
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