Thursday, August 2, 2012

Because why bother?

Disclaimer: I have nothing against any of the bands I will be discussing. I'm also going to jump around on topics. You may now continue.

So I'm doing my usual run-around of the internetz yesterday, and I come across an article about a new band that was signed to Century Media; Destiny Potato. No, I'm not kidding, that is their name, and I am linking you to their Facebook page because despite the fact that they're on a major label, they don't have an official website. Their music is something of a mix between Djent and Evanescence. Clearly, I am not a fan, but this isn't unusual. Record companies sign people I don't particularly care for all the time. No, what caught my eye was this part of the article:

"Just a few months after we officially formed the band we got an opportunity to play our first show at Euroblast 2011 where we met some boys and gals from Century Media as they came to hear/see us play. Not long after the fest we got in touch with them and after months of negotiations we are finally here and really looking forward to an amazing collaboration with all the great people in and around this label."

Jill Janus of Huntress
Yup. Just a few months after officially forming the band, they get signed to a major record label. Why? Have absolutely no idea, but it's likely one of those "we knew someone" stories. That's how it always is. That's why Huntress, with former Playboy model Jill Janus (who is classically trained), who nobody knew of, managed to release their very first single and album on Napalm Records without so much as an album or a demo. Because it's not what you do, it's who you know in this business. I'm not saying Huntress doesn't have great musicians. They're actually pretty good! But there are a thousand other bands out there that are "pretty good", and have been involved with the scene for a decade or more, and you'll probably never see them on a major label because they either don't have a marketable look, or they just can't get a break.

Which is where the term "why bother?" comes from.

Sometimes, as an artist, you ask yourself... why bother? What is the point of all the sleepless nights, the hard work, the blood, tears, and sweat, when people who don't work half as much as you have suddenly get signed to major labels? What's the point of rehearsing for weeks and weeks with nothing to look forward to but a crowd of twenty guys and maybe one of their girlfriends? Why bother?

I'll tell you why.

Because I think that even if the entire world doesn't know what we do, we know. Is it hard work? Yes. Does it destroy relationships and break families apart? Sure! But we do this because we love it. Because the music is a part of us, and if we never get famous, we'll at least know that we created something great. We never wasted our time trying to please other people with pop or something we didn't particularly care about. We never made ourselves sick trying at fame. I'll tell you guys something, fame is a disease that people will waste their entire life waiting to catch. There are routes to fame, and they either work, or you spend years traveling them only to find yourself empty handed at the end. So why bother with all that nonsense when you could spend that precious time in your life making great music? Why waste all that energy being something your not for a dream you might not even get to experience?

Maria Brink of In This Moment
I'm not the kind of person to do that. When a former band mate told me that I should try to be more sexy, I was annoyed. When that same band mate told me that we should be studying In This Moment, because they're famous, I was annoyed. When someone's dad tried to give me advice on songwriting ("you should write a song about having sex with another guy!"), I was annoyed. I would much rather put all my time and energy writing good quality music that I actually want to perform than write something stupid that will turn heads and maybe make a million dollars. I'm sure money solves problems and brings happiness to some, but I'd rather have a great song and a great set of musicians to work with.

One of the things that irritates me about being compared to these women is that I have never in my entire life been a skinny blonde. I strive toward fitness and being a healthy weight, but there's no way in hell I have the ability to strut on stage in a pair of heels and a tiny skirt. I just do not have the physique for it, and when people tell me that this would be a good way to market myself, all I can think is... "are you out of your gaddamn mind?!" Would it catch the attention of people? Sure! Would that be a good thing?? Probably not. I'd rather keep it safe and be comfortable enough to actually perform than worry about whether or not my thighs look too fat in this goth tutu. So even if I wanted to just do whatever I can possibly do to be famous, I can't. I'd have to spend way too much time forcing myself into anorexia to fit into a certain ideal to actually make any music, which I've always considered to be more important than looking a certain way.

Am I bitter about the whole thing? Sometimes, sure. Sometimes, bands like Destiny Potato will piss me off. But hey, there's something for everyone. Some people are lucky in some areas. Nobody has "all the luck". They might have a record deal, but I have my band, and nobody and no money could ever replace my band. Or my husband. Or my cat.

So why bother? Because I love it. Despite all the annoying crap, I love it.

But please don't ask to see my boobs.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Why bother? Because some of us musicians still cling to the fact that there are intelligent people out there who will appreciate good musicians over gimmicks.