Been digging on an electronic music style called Vaporwave, which is a broad term describing music that’s generic but hopeful, yet entirely forgettable if it was in the background. It’s like ambient, but with a beat (usually). It’s named after “vaporware” which is a kind of software that promises but never delivers. It has the ability to build up, but it seldom does, and never goes over the threshold of danceability. Notable examples of Vaporwave are 2814, Macintosh Plus, Hong Kong Express, Blank Banshee, among many others.
What wows me is how deep and lush it all can be. It’s new and novel, and I’m in love. And it humbles me that these artists can weave these tapestries of sound and establish this great vibe, yet here I am with my tiny little studio and I can’t muster a single solid song.
And there’s a problem with that. A big problem, actually. It’s not that I can’t write — I can, in fact, write music — it’s that I’m comparing myself to them. I don’t have the tools, the time, or the expertise. But even that’s not it. I’m listening, and half of me is enjoying what I hear, and the other half, the selfish half, is seething with jealousy, envy, and scorn. My dick’s getting in the way, as though if I don’t catch up and assert my primacy, I won’t get all the girls. That’s such a breathless, exasperating, terrible point of view, and it’s destructive to any joy of discovery. So here I am, analyzing, searching for the patterns so I can attempt to backtrack to the source of their inspiration, so that I too can emulate that and catch up to them. But you know what? That’s wrong. That’s so completely wrong; the wrongest of wrongs.
The greatest hindrance to my creativity is that of trying to catch up. True creativity comes from muddling around in chaos until order appears, and then building upon that order, regardless of the shape. Starting out, I never know how a song is going to sound until it’s finished; a song is the cumulative result of all the influencing factors during its genesis and refinement. One cannot architect a song’s shape and ever hope to build the framework to fit exactly, not unless one is a master of their craft — that’s the top-down approach. I am not a master of my craft. I want to sound like them, but I won’t, not unless I’m in their shoes, in their studio, with their creative sessions, fueled by their interests. I don’t have those. I have my own life; they have theirs.
So what should I do? What I can do is muddle around in the chaos again. Where does my creativity get sparked? Where do I get inspired? In that randomness that comes from getting lost in the moment with my equipment and software and sound files and keyboards. Everything I ever wrote was from a spur of the moment thing that happened, and I built upon that. If I want to make anything big and thick and worthy of celebrating, that’s where I start. What I end up with may not be anywhere near what they’ve got, but that’s not the point. That should never be the point.
It’s one thing for a swordsman to trace his opponent’s footsteps in the sand and watch his technique and try to work backward to his genesis to become great himself, but it’s quite another for a swordsman to practice swinging at targets and ultimately become deadly accurate.