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by Abstraction

But it's not a thing about making it accurate, It's a thing about making it feel right. If it's an accident that's an error that feels good, then you leave it in. You know, you want those. But it's not a thing about making it accurate, It's a thing about making it feel right. It's not about getting all the errors out, It's about getting it to feel right. If it's an accident that's an error that feels good, then you leave it in. You know, you want those.
It doesn't matter how much you know about implementation or writing layers or any of these kind of video game terms none of that matters if you can't write music well. So the first thing for me is always learning your craft and it doesn't matter where the music is going ultimately. This is when the music is in your head and you're still thinking about it. You've gotta know how to basically see it through completion practically on your own these days, and have it stand on its own with everything else that's out there. And, a lot of that doesn't come down to what plugins you have. I mean, sure, having the right reverb helps and everything. It really comes down to what's in your head and what's in here, what's in your heart. And those two things are what makes the best video game music in my opinion. Because I'm not really talking about video game music, I'm just talking about music. You have to be able to feel it. You have to know how to take those in your head and in your heart and say something meaningful. And I don't think that's necessarily something you learn in school, or something you learn from reading a book or watching YouTube videos or anything. I think it's more something you learn from doing it, from trying it over and over and over and over.
And so when creating, even with limited resources, I love being resourceful. But realize there is a lot of false imagery out there. I get disturbed when I see press reviews, you may have seen a lot of them refer to so-and-so upcoming producer is hitting the charts or is on the scene. They're written all the same way. And I see the same thing for these music sample packs. They say "These are the drums that you need for your chart hits, yo!" And being a consumer isn't being problematic in itself. But falling into these traps of something that is not you. <sweet melodica solo> If I had to say one more thing on the subject looking at growth to realize to not be boxed into a scene. You may see yourself making music in a given genre, but then you have an accidental hit on YouTube. They step out there and then they are like "wow I didn't know that" and they will shift towards that. Which of course is problematic because it creates more pressure to create more things like that, right? When it's an accident. To realize that who you are and what you may succeed at, what people might love most about you, may be very, very different than how you see yourself.
In a writer I'm looking for someone who brings everything to the table. You know, who brings heart, who brings vision, and particularly someone who brings their brain to the table. So that they're aware of what they're doing and they're making conscious choices. I don't have a lot of patience for people who feel they're downloading from the cosmos. You know just like, "that's how it came out!" OK, great, well now let's make it better. But just writing from a place of understanding rather than from a place of fear. Where you're just grateful for any idea that comes along. And you don't want to change it, because you don't know how. It's not about the ideas, it's about how you support the ideas.
Charlie: Do you have any advice for somebody who's on the verge of being comfortable with performing their stuff for the first time? Matt: Yeah, I kind of had a revelation a little bit ago. That if I am going to be singing out for people and making records and committing to do this. And it's kind of silly that this is a revelation to me, but to just sing and play with conviction. If you believe in what you're performing and you care about it, then chances are that your audience will care about it too. I guess I had too many experiences where I play a show and then I wasn't happy with it because I didn't give all I had. And, you know, that's kind of a no-brainer thing; if you don't bring it, people are gonna be bored. But, for the music we play I was sometimes just content to lay back and I really have gone away from that now. When I play a show I want to just lay everything that I have out on the table and if you like it, that's awesome and if you don't, that's fine too. But, at least I didn't leave anything hidden, I guess.
Don't be afraid to borrow. Chord progressions, sounds, little ditties, tiny things, just snatch 'em all up. And one of the reasons why I can churn stuff out is because I don't have a problem reusing or borrowing something that I heard. And I used to, because I thought it not original, not creative. But I quickly found out that I am not original or creative. I can't make up a new thing! And I very much doubt, anyways, that any of the people that I listen to were first ones to think of a particular progression. So once you get over that, sounding good is easy. Because you just borrow. Basically, let's just copy it and just do a little changey thing, and then pretend like it's yours. No one will know. No one knows. The new generation now can steal everything from the older generation and pretend it's theirs. Charlie: Oh, that's kind of controversial. Scott: Is it? Charlie: Obviously, chords and melodies, there's only so many things you can do. Scott: Yeah, you don't want to push it. Don't be blatant about it, be subtle. Like a sneaky thief in the night. And also be respectful, like leave them a little note saying "thank you very much, for what you've done." But if you listen enough, you start to pick up on the enormous amount of repetitive, you know, the same chord progression over and over and over again from the same artist all the time. It's easy to churn out a lot of songs if you have a lot of different chord progressions in your mind and you know that "you know what? If I do this and I do this, it'll sound new enough."
I think all art, and imagination, at some point, leads you to think about things that aren't true. And that can be a great exercise for adapting to the world. I think that it's the job of the artist to push the boundaries of what we're comfortable with and to make us see things differently than we would otherwise see them. I think that having art is a cornerstone of a free society and that artists help us re-contextualize things, to make connections that we might not otherwise make. And they're not always successful at it, but I think part of that is artists pushing boundaries of the art itself. Asking the question "what is art" and "what is music" and "what are the limits". And we saw it in the Dadaist movement with painting, and we saw a kind of backlash against that with hyperrealism and photorealism. So in terms of evolution I think we've evolved as a question-asking species. And those questions have helped us do things like harness the power of fire and discover the wheel and have agriculture and decode DNA and discover penicillin and all this stuff and what you get out of that is music that many people find unlistenable, but part of the game.
You can't really identify with someone who's being veiled and false. Because you have to guess too much. What do they mean by that? Oh I don't know, it's just a good beat, go with that. It's just a good beat, go with that. When you talk about words and lyrics, it's all about being completely honest. So, being self-conscious is the thing that's going to limit you. I understand it though, because we have relationships and we have families and we have people that some of these words might hurt, you know? And that is intimidating. And I'm not saying "yeah go ahead and hurt everyone's feelings", you know, there's a balance I think you have to learn. But as an artist, what you really need to get to is towards the authentic.
I think it's funny that we can it music and everybody understand what we're saying. But, it's not music, it's an apparently ordered series of notes. The brain is always looking for patterns. The brain is a categorizing organ. And so everything we see, we have to have an explanation for it. If we didn't have an explanation for what we were seeing and hearing and feeling and smelling, we would go crazy. We can call it music, and everybody understands what we're saying. But, it's not music, it's an apparently ordered series of notes.
It's nice, it has a lot space. You have to really trust yourself, I think, to give something space. To not fill it up with something clever, or technical, or impressive in some way. And just be like here I am, here's my feeling. Here's my feeling, here's my heart.
Charlie: What is your own purpose in writing music? Paul: That's a really good question. What is my purpose to writing music is very similar to the question "what is music for and why do we even have it?" It doesn't feed us or hold our buildings up, it doesn't do anything apparent for us. But, I have an idea about it. I think that our human brains are big messes. They're a product of a lot of very recent evolution that's still kind of in progress. Jumbled together putting on the facade of actually working beautifully together. But it's kind of a mess to have both that lizard part of your brain working its was up Maslow's hierarchy and having social relationships and having human curiosity and having just our insatiable desire to see patterns. We love meaning even when there is none to be found. All of this is rattling around in our heads and it means that being human and being conscious can be a very demanding and difficult thing. And I think the purpose of art in general, but especially of music which is so abstract is that music both articulates and aids just the process of being conscious and alive. It teaches us how to think and feel, not in a moralistic way, but it says "you're inhabiting a mind, what are you gonna to do about that?" And music teaches us how to do it. It teaches us how to deal with tension and release, and expectation and emotions of every kind including ones we don't have words for. And finding patterns and losing patterns. It takes all of the messy experience of all the different aspects of consciousness that we struggle with, and puts them in a package that we can deal with. That's orderly, and beautiful, and says "here's a thing that's a reflection of your consciousness that's beautiful, that actually works." And by beautiful, I don't necessarily mean pretty and sunshiny. By beautiful I mean it's right, it's balanced. It has a kind of order to it, even if by beautiful I might mean something that's very dark and tense and dissonant. That there's a beauty in that when it's just so. It lets us encounter the difficult parts of having a mind and deal with them in a way that's safe and constructive and helpful. So, I guess I would say in brief, the point of me writing music my purpose is music therapy, for myself and for others. It's to help us all deal with being human. Because good lord look at the planet, we could all use some help with that. Charlie & Paul: imgur.com/gallery/himZD0M
And I think most people are creative in one way the other. A lot of people feel like the have a book in them or a song in them or they have a TV show idea. And you can sit around and talk about that all you want. But until it is actually a reality, it doesn't count. When I was younger, I don't know how many songs I half wrote, but never quite finished and never finished recording or never even started recording. And no one knows that those songs existed. So it kinda doesn't count until you finish it, and then put it out into the world. Now I'm not saying put crap out into the world, but there comes a time when finishing and moving on I think is vital. Otherwise you're just holding on to all these old works. And I think if you want to grow as any sort of creative person. You need to finish things. That cliché of art is not finished, it's abandoned. Yes, it could always be better. But you have to finish and you have to put it out because otherwise you're just the guy talking about your art and you're not the guy doing it. You get better by doing it, finishing it, learning from that process and then moving to the next thing.


This album is my love letter to living a life focused on creating things.

Creativity flows through everything. Whether it is music, painting, game development, or fixing cars, there will always be problems that require creative solutions.

Creationism is a celebration of those who live to solve problems. Who don't see roadblocks, but opportunities to overcome something new. People who want to learn new things every day.


released January 25, 2017

This album was made in collaboration with the amazing podcast Composer Quest (www.composerquest.com).

All voice audio is taken with permission from both Charlie McCarron from Composer Quest and those he interviewed.

Embrace Your Mistakes: Mike Olson
Learn Your Craft: Jason Graves
Be Yourself: Torley
Understand Your Ideas: Pat Pattison
Play With Conviction: Matt Leavitt
Borrow, Don't Steal: Scott Boster
Push Boundaries: Daniel Levitin
Be Authentic: Laura Marie
Recognize Patterns: Roger Dumas
Appreciate Space: Jenny Katz
Having Purpose: Paul Cantrell
Follow Through: John Anelio


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Abstraction Minneapolis, Minnesota

Professional air wiggler.

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