Last year I became completely burnt out with music. The non-stop hustle of the freelance, creative life had worn on me and I had very little left to offer. I stopped writing songs, practicing guitar and rehearsing new stories, and simply went on auto pilot. I pandered to audiences and relied on my pre-existing contacts that I had developed through constant gigging over the years.
Half-way through 2017 I got a job at a local brewery and got another gig hosting and producing an interview based podcast for some corporate whores. I had a huge part of my ego tied up in doing music full time and it was hard to give that up. For the later half of 2017 most of my income came from my other two jobs, rather than creative pursuits.
The podcast job didn’t last long, and the program essentially lost funding by the end of the 2017. On the plus side, I inherited some awesome gear and learnt how to become a one-man, professional podcaster. It was a tough gig but I really enjoyed it. I was thrown under the bus for 6 months and forced to adapt to each situation and make it work. It was the greatest crash course in podcasting on the planet. I developed my abilities as an interviewer, my audio and technical skillsets and learnt how to arrange each episode in a compelling way.
I still have my part time job at the brewery (which I love). I’ll be there until I die, they fire me, or until I relocate. (I work at Village Brewery in Calgary if you are wondering. Stop by for a beer sometime)
I applied for a number of full-time gigs when my podcasting job ended. I got a few interviews for high paying, impressive positions that I didn’t think I was qualified for, yet didn’t receive even an interview for some entry-level, non-profit jobs. I got a phone call to find out that I was the 2nd choice for a Finance Communication Analyst position in Edmonton. Life would have looked a lot different if I had been the first choice.
During all this artistic and personal malaise, I was accepted to a 3-week Singer Songwriter Residency at the Banff Centre. I felt a little strange accepting this, as I really didn’t feel like a songwriter anymore. With no better options on the table, and having a romantic notion with the Banff Centre, I decided to pursue the opportunity…and I am sure glad I did.
I spent three weeks with 30 of the most humble, interesting, compelling, empathetic and honest songwriters I have ever met. It was a deeply cathartic experience which ultimately led me to fall in love with songwriting again. I had lost myself somewhere on the road. I had stopped really listening to music and was almost exclusively listening to podcasts and talk radio. I had become cynical to the idea of music and was tainted by touring and playing too many bad shows.
The Banff Centre changed all that. It made me excited to create, listen and collaborate. It made me feel good about the future and the beauty of creative pursuits. It made me realize that I like making art because it’s important and fun. That’s it. The program reminded me that I’m a music fan first and foremost. It reminded me of the beautiful innocence of music.
We received some free recording time during the residency and we were encouraged to experiment. I did just that and ended up tracking a blistering punk/emo tune, a mystical country song that sounds like The Eagles and a duet I co-wrote with my friend Alix, that sounds like She and Him.
I was able to rediscover a new found joy in music, art and life during my time at the Banff Centre. I feel a sense of gratitude that I haven't had in a long time.
As of June 1st my lease is up on my East Village apartment. I’m not exactly sure what the future holds or where I will end up, but I can’t help but feel like I’m being pushed by some guiding force or intuition towards my creative endeavours.
I don’t have a solid plan, but I will most likely be focussing on the following during the next six months:
-Releasing my book, I Am The Lizard King, as a weekly audio book-podcast
-Releasing an EP of songs (Painted Horses EP) that I recorded in Edmonton over the last 4 years
-Freelance grant writing for friends
-Pitching freelance articles to magazines and websites
-Touring as a working musician
It’s a hard life trying to make a living off one’s art, but it’s been a good life. I’m remaining open to possibility and trying to bury my ego. I’m not sure what the future holds, but I’ll be sure to let you know.