Does great music come from pain, or should happiness and caring for yourself come first?

We don’t talk about that a lot in music. Indeed, from music gear news to dance music lifestyle publications, we peddle fantasies of success. We do that even when it’s clear most of our audience – most of us – will never have that sort of success. But even more so, there’s little consideration of whether that actually makes anyone happy.

So I find this interview strikingly refreshing and encouraging. It’s from the documentary collective Blitzkickers, who have a knack for going past the usual industry-oriented shop talk and clichés of electronic music documentary and honing in on the emotional reality behind. That is, their films are mainly films about humans. I spent some time with producer/director Anna Bogomolova looking through their work, and this particular moment came up.

Gabriel Ananda: Many artists are afraid to let go of their pain and problems because they think that’s what makes them creative. And maybe it does. But then I ask myself, “What’s more important — to be a successful musician or to be happy?”

Manal Aziz: … And what is it for you?

Gabriel Ananda: I want to be happy, definitely. If I would have to stop doing this I would, even though I would not have a job then. Life is a mystery, you never know.

There’s a lot to appreciate about Gabriel Ananda, generally. I appreciate his label names – Basmati and Soulful Techno kind of sum up the two things that nourish me, so that’s a nice coincidence for me personally.

And I appreciate what after some years living in Germany is to me a positive potential of German culture – an ability, at least in the outward facing sense, to be pragmatic and honest, not to feel this tendency I grew up with in America to need to put a positive face on everything.

But, you know, if you can appreciate that success can be exhausting and lonely, that quitting is always a possibility, maybe you can always appreciate those fragile spaces in between that are pure bliss.

I’ve always encouraged myself and friends to walk away from music making when they aren’t feeling it – because I find from experience that it’s easier and more satisfying to walk away and come back than to push forward and be miserable or uninspired. I think the idea that misery makes the best music is wrong, but that music as a way of channeling and processing our unhappiness, and finding want makes us happy, is totally right. Maybe you feel differently. But at the very least, I hope we start talking about these things. Instead of meaningless musical chatter that sounds like pro athletes trying to explain what they did on the court or field, still panting, we could actually talk to one another about how we really feel, where we’re vulnerable, and why we do what we do. That goes for club music or distorted experimental drones. And I think as a community, music will be better for that.

Check out the awesome Blitzkickers for a nice click hole to fall through …

http://blitzkickers.com

Hope we’ll have more with them soon.

Addendum: let’s also quote W.A. Mozart, as I believe this is a fairly reputable quote.

“When I am traveling in a carriage, or walking after a good meal, or during the night when I cannot sleep; it is on such occasions that ideas flow best and most abundantly.”

Word, Amadeus.

And yes, when we have plenty of reasons to be miserable, those sleepless nights and happy musical moments become even more vital to creativity finding a way back to feeling right again.

  • Great little interview, the ups and downs of life definitely affect our art!

  • “I find from experience that it’s easier and more satisfying to walk away and come back than to push forward and be miserable or uninspired.” That’s one of the hardest parts IMO, but very true. Good read!

  • Mark Kunoff

    I did exacty that – left music and came back stronger. Strong enough that a prominent label in Cologne will release one of my tracks this spring. Life is good!