What, exactly, is so awful about Live 8? Or I should say, Is there really anything wrong with it that’s a total dealbreaker? Probably not, or else we wouldn’t be reading or writing this blog.
TBH, I really don’t think that being able to render directly to MP3 would make me the next Four Tet. It would save me exactly 20 seconds that I would probably use to watch stupid Youtube videos.
Not that this kind of complaining and speculating is limited to Ableton. It seems like a lot of writing about electronic music is actually a kind of gear fetishism: trying to get you to buy or try a new software, plugin, synth, stompbox, DIY controller kit, etc. and so forth.
Anything but sit down and make some actual music.
Now, as someone who spent most of his youth drooling over Bass Player magazine (what’s up, Victor Wooten!), I can tell you that this is not a phenomenon exclusively related to making electronic music. Not at all. But I think that Electronic Music is especially susceptible to this kind of thinking.
Part of what makes Electronic Music so exciting IS the fact that it is closely linked to new developments in technology. An instrument that makes up a key part of your sound could have been non-existent 5 years ago. See: The rise of Auto-Tune (for better or for worse) and AfroDJMac’s Justin Bieber rack. That is really exciting and it would be ridiculous to want to limit that.
But I think that it easy to verge (as I do from time to time) from “keeping up with the newest technology IN ORDER to make music” into “keeping up with the newest technology IN ORDER TO NOT make music.”
That’s right: I mean to say that much gear fetishism is actually just procrastination.
Let’s face it, making art is an act of courage (I’m quoting Steve Gutenberg here, which is telling). It is an act of courage in that it requires commitment. The difference between a schlub and an artist is that an artist puts his or her neck out. An artist has to commit. And sometimes, we’d rather worry about the technical details than jump into the abyss. The abyss is scary. And if your tools are faulty, then you don’t have to commit 100%. I understand this because I myself am guilty of it about 9 days out of 10.
All I’m saying is: keep an eye on yourself and be tough on yourself. We don’t have the luxury of totally closing our eyes to new technology. But we can also easily get sucked in by the newest and the shiniest. Make sure that your tools enable you and don’t limit you. It’s tough, but it can be done.
To quote Flying Lotus, apropos of his extremely rinky-dink production setup (just laptop): “To find something new, I don’t have to update my shit; I just have to update my brain.” [Quote taken from the new Peter Kirn book, The Evolution of Electronic Dance Music]
I’d be interested to know what you guys think: Am I totally off-base here, or do you think that sometimes we focus on our tools to avoid doing real work? Let me know in the comments!