Have you ever come across that gem of wisdom from philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, "Without music, life would be a mistake"? We can identify with that pretty strongly here at Musical Notes Global.
We started wondering what music means to people in the industry and that sparked the idea for a new guest blog series. "Music Is" is an open-ended topic for artists to share their thoughts on music and the impact it has had on their lives with Musical Notes Global readers. Throwing his thoughts into the ring today is Leon + The Fantastic, an alternative music artist that uses a classical approach to composition, integrating elements of rock, pop, and R&B into his art while telling stories that hook listeners in. Check out what he has to say below.
A few years ago on a visit to San Francisco, guitarist Matan Goldberg told me he was quitting music. Matan is the absolutely excellent musician and songwriter I tapped for my double album “A Precious Despair,” and whose album “Smoking” I'm hoping to convince him to re-release. He was in town for a couple weeks, bought a used typewriter from Thrift Town on Mission Street and was writing these little triple liners. It was quite good. He said “Music never gives back. It just takes. It never ends.”
I was obsessed with my music career, and relied on him to be obsessed with his, so that neither of us ever would stop and look at that glaring reality. I wanted him to help build our band. At some point, between 12 and 17 I decided I would become a big music star. I'd use that pulpit for social change, healing, reconciliation, diplomacy, etc.. I'd find other like minded songwriters. We'd be like the Beatles! Four of us, writing unconventional pop songs, crossing genres and saving the world. Matan was the cat, the main man. I met a few similar comrades at music school. Owuor Arunga and Carter Yasutake were both tremendous geniuses, both on and off the bandstand. And so many beyond mention. In my mind over the years as I traveled and hoboed, I'd compile a list of my favorite musical humans in the hope that we could unite into a phenomenal ensemble! Right the wrongs of society through music.
I'm still that stupid. But more over the years I wonder if my adventures are, truly over as I contemplate music. What does music really mean?
It’s an economy. It’s an economy that once had consumers, but now the amount of music artists in the world is so large, it doesn't require an audience. The economy is in service to myriads of acts trying to make it, self funding albums, and designs and websites, and each different app, running Facebook ads and Adwords promos, doing gigs, paying side musicians, promotions. So much more than ever before. Matan is right. It never ends.
And word from musicians on tour? Tours are grueling, difficult. Fun, but very hard. Sitting in a car for a couple hundred hours, and then busting into action for a short burst then on to the next town. All in the service of this thing we love so much: music.
So over the years, outside of music, how much have I truly contributed to the world? If I look at it on paper, I am a self interested individual. I live for myself, trying to get people to like my music. Geez, saying that out loud is really distasteful. And quite unlike my brilliant but self-respecting main man Matan, my steam for trying to do this shows no sign of slowing down, even as the years blaze quickly forward. It's odd. But then I re-listen to the music and I remember. I absolutely love music. Music is not like other art forms.
Theater is the most demanding, no doubt. Film is all the high arts together. Both have to be extremely pro. Being punctual for a musician? Defeats the purpose right? I know some folks who do several art forms. In their music, they are crazy emotional musicians. In their visual art, they really have their act together. There is something so human and absolute about music. There is something I can't stop. I'm not going to stop. And even Matan's hiatus seems to be coming to a close. We can't help it, this is just what we do to adorn this screwed up-ass lovely art form.
Leon + The Fantastic is fresh off the release of his newest album Let Me Cool, a thoughtful six-track collection that hits on topics like justice and passion. Check it out now on Spotify.
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