Process Series

Fall In Love with Process, Nick Cave

Nick Cave, from a small Australian town with only one street to a globally acclaimed portfolio of original creative works as a writer, musician, screenwriter, and artist of many talents is a creator who pushed boundaries, perfect to get a different perspective on the act of creation. Let’s dive into the takeaways!

“I would rather be remembered for writing something that was discomforting or offensive than to be forgotten for writing something bloodless and bland.”

Fall in love with your process and be mindful where you work

There are  opposing sides to the argument of doing what you love, you will be told by some that once you make your passion your job it creates a barrier to continuing your love for the activity – then, of course, those that get paid to do what they love and well, love it.

For this particular artist, work was a discipline, and it was focused too with a space set aside filled with carefully curated objects – a space designed to inspire and bring focus for days full of meaningful creativity.

“I used to go six days a week, until I couldn’t stand it anymore. Now I go Sundays as well.”

“Working very much as a kind of therapeutic activity, to be honest,”

Look at what lies beneath the words

“As a songwriter, I am not much interested in truth, or at least truth takes a backseat to meaning and emotional resonance; meaning, not in the sense of rational meaning, but rather, meaningfulness or value. So, when I hear a song of praise sung to a God that on any empirical level probably doesn’t exist, I am somehow moved more, and filled with a deep respect for that human need for meaning that is so powerful, so desperate and so beautifully absurd.”

In my last piece on Hildur Guonadottir, I explored harnessing emotion through experiences – here Nick points to a similar concept – unearthing the belief system behind people’s words or actions and considering momentarily what it could be like to feel as they do about their subject mattes. Through allowing yourself to become fascinated with the many states of mind humans exist in as a result of different cultural and situational influences – a whole world of inspiration is accessible.

When going to write lyrics then – apart from inspiration, reverse engineering this way of thinking can help you choose words which paint a more profound picture – perhaps less direct and more entwined with the state of being that comes as a result of a situation. Words which can then lead the listener to connect with the work through their own understanding rather than by accessing your pre-packaged description of a distinct chain of events. 

Composition of any kind can, in fact, take inspiration from this perspective, looking beyond the moving parts and toward catalysts such as belief systems behind human experience can allow the creator to not only connect with a wider audience but enable them to come away with a more unique interpretation.

You are not your market

Not happy with your last piece of work? You certainly aren’t alone there. If you haven’t heard of what is known as the creator’s curse, essentially the concept alludes to the fact that as you continue at your creative pursuit you also improve at your craft meaning upon completion of any given project you are capable of better – a concept which seems positive if not for the fact that when reflecting on your work you are able to see a stronger possibility with your new-found skills often making it challenging to be positive towards your own work.

To strengthen this point (in case you weren’t already convinced) just let this quote sink in…

“There are songs that I pretty much think are as good as I can get, and ‘The Mercy Seat’ isn’t one of them… I mean, I was surprised that people went for it the way they did.”

If Nick Cave, one of the songwriting greats – didn’t pick the ‘The Mercy Seat’ would be a hit then who are you to judge?

I rest my cave – er, I mean case…

It’s not all about harmony.

Provoking your audience, or at least someone – with your work; is ok. Art need not please everyone who should happen to come across it. Whilst remaining in relatively good taste may be more of a challenge for you than it would have for Nick Cave in his heydey – being able to empathize with the views of others can be a creative tool

“As a songwriter, it is important for me to have a kind of belief system that can travel and change as I see fit.”

This notion of a changed belief system opens up the realms of creating something entirely different, something free of your regular view of the world – a chance to communicate with emotions that are almost always avoided in social settings. 

“I would rather be remembered for writing something that was discomforting or offensive than to be forgotten for writing something bloodless and bland.”

Looking at it this way it makes sense to push the envelope a little into the red from time to time when it comes to raising some eyebrows…

Process Series is written by Dylan @ Rast Sound