Within every human mind there lies a unique world. On this planet there are around seven billion different worlds, each of them as significant as you consider your own. Each one dreams. Each one desires. And each one is inevitably affected on a daily basis by the natural forces from vast numbers of others, with constructive, destructive and unforeseen consequences. Conversely, each one inevitably affects on a daily basis a number of others. As ruler of our own world it becomes our responsibility to decide how we position ours and in turn how it chooses to respond to the way other worlds treat it.
We are part of a complex system of spheres, bouncing off one another, constantly in flux, constantly moving, and forever reacting to the various external stimuli that we encounter each day.
One World Less is a point I have reached after five years doing this Atlum Schema thing and has evolved into a somewhat mammoth piece of work comprising 16 songs, a novella and almost thirty pieces of artwork. Despite this it has only taken six months to bring it together and has been the curation rather than creation from five years’ worth of various inspirations.
The project is my understanding of what art means in my own world and how I am starting to believe it is our duty as humans to strive to all become artists. I have come to the apprehension that we are all born to be artists and have constantly to assess our progress in the attainment of such honour. If we are not artists then we are prisoners. We become prisoners of systems, emotions, experiences, self-obsession and other people’s expectations to name but a few masters. If we are to be artists we must find a way to break the chains that hold us and then our art is how we use our situations, tools and abilities to help others do the same.
This might sound pretentious but it has been a perception that has helped me to make sense of what I am doing, why I’m doing it and work out whether there is any value in me carrying on to anyone other than myself (where value can oftentimes feel insignificant). So I will explain a little about what I mean when I say it has helped me in this.
On numerous occasions over the last year I have been genuinely close to giving up writing, performing and to some extent enjoying music at all. There have been times where I have felt overwhelmed by a sense of pointlessness and stupidity when it comes to thoughts of producing and releasing my own music. The problem is I don’t think I could give up if I tried because it is simply something I have got to do for its own sake whether anyone is listening or not. I was in a conceptual nightmare, which made me re-evaluate a few things. If I have to do it, what is making me want to stop? Why would I feel that way?
I spent lots of time trying to find the answer to this and came to the conclusion that it lies in motivations. I had got myself into a series of conflicts within my own head over how best to create a structure around myself in which I could make a living from music. I had become bogged down in a marsh of money motives and the need to use music to make it. I just put my head down and got on with it and was subconsciously feeling trapped in a place I didn’t want to be.
When I was a kid I wanted to be a pop star. Most kids do. As I grew up I wanted to be a rock star. There is a difference. This was a dream I just assumed I was still pursuing until this last year when I realised I was no closer to getting there. The reason I was no closer was not because I had tried and failed but actually because I hadn’t really tried at all. But why hadn’t I tried? Well, because in reality I didn’t really have that desire to be one anymore. The problem was I had not yet got round to telling myself. I was reading lots of literature about ‘how to make it in music’, and was doing a token amount of demo-peddling to a few ‘people of importance’ but my heart wasn’t really in it. Yet, I was still making music and in a significant and massively enjoyable way. I felt torn between these indefinable forces and was at a loss over what to do.
I sat down and started writing a book. It didn’t take me long to realise that I just needed to chill out and get set free from thinking down the paths that have been trod before and the structures put in place by those who want to make money and control things. It was clear that when you become so focussed on progressing yourself, your chances of finding new paths fade because everything you do turns into a means to reach your desired end and this usually means appeasing those with the power. You need the established structures to help you get there and fear cripples both you and the establishment from doing things differently and caring about anyone but yourself.
I realised that there is something worth fighting for in the music world and that I do want to be a part of a movement that is pushing against the status quo and embracing a time of transition with a real sense of renewed empowerment. It is not about the music industry in itself, and it is not about an overwhelming desire that I have to be a musician, but rather it is a seemingly innate and unstoppable urge to be an artist. It is a yearning for justice, equality and to break away from the chains that bind us by systems and people who are desperate to use us for their own gains (in all aspects of life). I realised that art is about much more than a song, a painting, or a story. It is about ideas that inspire action and a release from slavery (of all types).
As I finally conceded my readiness to call Atlum Schema a day I had an overwhelming sense of clarity. It was as if I needed to reach that point of letting it go so that I could reach some understanding of what it is I actually do, why it matters and get a grip of it again. I’ll have a go at describing my conclusion:
We are all artists. We all have different tools because we have different worlds. There is no use thinking in terms of how to ‘make it’ in music, or indeed your own chosen path, but rather we need to see ourselves as having already made it to where we are right now because at the end of the day that is all we really have. If we use what we have to hand here and now in order to make artists of one another, then we can be satisfied. We do this by seeing the things that imprison one another and we help demolish them. What this means and looks like in reality will be forever in flux and will vary widely from world to world, but as long as we are living with a less selfish, more intrinsic purpose in a larger body of humanity then artistry is for the taking.
On a personal level, for now I am fortunate enough to have been able to make music and write a book. It does not define me but hopefully is a manifestation of my desire to be an artist. It is a small part of a much bigger picture, which I am excited to unveil as I attempt to live less like a prisoner myself and look for chances to help others do the same. And my renewed happiness with what I’m doing represents the reality that I am desperate to remain separate from the often-warped vision of what it means to suffer for ones art.
So, here’s to another new year!
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