Creative Strategies w/ Matt Shadetek: Never, Later, or Now?

In this creative strategies article, Logic expert and Dutty Artz label owner Matt Shadetek offers some techniques for overcoming procrastination and getting things done. 

Creative Strategies w/ Shadetek: Never, Later, or Now?

Whatever stage you’re at in the process, in order to progress towards your goal, you have a simple set of immediate choices. I’ll offer you three. You can act never, you can act later, or you can act now. Which sounds best to you? If you really believe that you want to move forward with music I would hope that we can take never off the table as a serious choice right here at the start. That leaves a much easier choice: now or later?

Since we are probably all familiar with procrastination let’s start with later. Later has a lot going for it! It’s easy because all it requires is that we wait. It’s safe because as long as we wait, nothing particularly scary is going to happen. By saying “I’ll take the next step later” we keep any unpleasant feedback, discoveries or difficulties safely in the future. Because of the way time works, if we choose later every day, we can keep things safely in the future forever. Before we notice, never has slipped back onto the table as one of our choices. If we continue to choose later the effect is actually the same as if we had chosen never.

As we examine our choices and consider never, then later we arrive at our last choice: now. What are the pros and cons of now? Since we all want to delay the inevitable, let’s start with the cons. Starting now takes work. Maybe a little sacrifice. It forces us to face unpleasant reality. It forces us to take risks and expose ourselves to feedback, which may be negative. It also forces us to turn our dreams into reality. Scary, isn’t it?

What about the pros? The pros are fairly simple. when you start, things will happen. They probably won’t be the things you expected, but they’ll be real. If you persist through the challenges and disappointments, you’ll get closer to your goal. Things will become more concrete and you’ll have a chance to react, change course, and improve.

Sometimes we want to wait for the stars to align. We’re waiting for that moment when magically we have enough time, energy, money or motivation. We say to ourselves things like “Right now I’m just too busy with work.” Or we tell ourselves stories like: “When I’ve saved up enough money to buy a full set of professional tools, then I’ll start.” We’re waiting for the perfect moment. But, as someone who’s been in the creative trenches for many years I can tell you that the perfect moment never, ever comes. Instead we get many, many imperfect moments. The moment your kids go to sleep, you’re tired and you want to watch TV, but instead you spend two hours on your project. The moment when you spend Friday night alone at home working on your project while your friends are out partying. The moment when you choose not to go on a fun vacation but instead spend summer in the hot city, working on your project. Over months and years we string together chains of imperfect moments and somehow, work gets done. Skills get polished. Projects get completed.

The other great value of now over the imagined perfect moment is this; usually the perfect moment we’re waiting for is based on imperfect information. Once we start, we get feedback from reality. We start working with basic tools and realize that we don’t even know how to use these, and that professional tools would probably make the job harder, not easier. We learn what we need to learn. We learn that actually being busy helps us to focus during the tiny bits of time we do have and gives us needed structure. We learn exactly what our own unique challenges, limitations and scarcities are and find ways to work over, around and through them. These are things you can’t predict when you’re standing at the starting line. You think you have an idea about what part will be hard, what part will be easy, what part you’ll like but you actually don’t know. You’re just guessing. Starting now gets us deep into the messy reality of creation.

Very often we like to tell ourselves that we don’t have a choice. We focus on comforting limitations like a lack of tools, talent or time. We tell ourselves it’s not our fault we haven’t started, it’s because of this or that. I don’t propose to tell you the answer to the question of when you should start. The answer is something you have to decide for yourself. I only hope I’ve made your options a little more clear.


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.

Connect with Matt on Twitter | SoundCloud | Website


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