Those who have known me for sometime know that I’m a musician with a home studio set up. The process of writing and recording music has served as one of my favorite pastimes all the way back to my childhood, when I started with a cheap battery operated tape recorder, a Yamaha keyboard from JC Penney’s that my great-grandmother bought me for Christmas, a child’s drum set from Sears that my grandmother bought me for another Christmas, and wonderful device called a Jaminator which looked sort of like a guitar and had all these pre programmed guitar samples that you could access with the push of a button. Licks from famous guitarists like David Gilmour of Pink Floyd and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin could be accessed by buying these little cartridges that were inserted into the side of the Jaminator.
Today, I’ve upscaled my home studio recording a bit. No, no, that’s not my home studio setup pictured, though I wish it was. It’s certainly my dream to have a set up like that one day, but for now, I use a Tascam 2488 Neo, a Macbook Pro, Garageband, and a fairly good assortment of digital effects and instruments from Native Instruments. Nothing too fancy, as I just simply don’t have the budget to be too fancy with anything in my life.
To date, I’ve released one “official” album, “Black Crow,” which I released via CD Baby’s digital distribution in 2012. Sales were dismal. Like, maybe twenty copies sold so far dismal. But I’m still proud of the work I did. I built something that no one else could have built, completely from scratch. The songwriting. The performance. The production. All of it was mine. And I am proud of that. I’ve also released several other “albums” via my bandcamp page (rancegarrison.bandcamp.com) that are collections of various material that I’ve recorded since high school, of varying degrees of quality, but I remain proud of that material for the same reasons: when you engage in something that is a completely creative act, the world cannot take that away from you. Sure, people can belittle it. People can criticize it. People can make you think that you had better just give up on it. And you can convince yourself to do the same if you aren’t very careful. Because when you engage in the arts, whether it’s music, or painting, or digital design, or a sculpture, or hell, even a blog, you are baring your soul for the world to see. And sometimes, the world doesn’t want to see it, and sometimes, you might not want to see it, either.
Lately, I’ve been in the midst of both a creative high and a creative rut. I’ve been on a creative high because my mind is constantly full of creative ideas that I want to pursue, ideas for songs, for writings, even ideas for how to go about producing other people’s work. But I’m also a senior in college and I’m getting married this summer, so no sooner have I retreated to my home studio to begin hashing these ideas out than another responsibility has to be tackled and the creative process has to be pushed to the side for the moment.
I’m working on new material which I believe will be the best music I’ve made so far. I have three songs for a new album completed. They’re done, aside from mastering. I have a dozen more written, just waiting to be recorded.
I have started a project in which I try to allow myself at least an hour a day for creative pursuits, and as life throws more and more responsibility on me, this will likely be the way I will have to create from now on as I don’t see the opportunity to quit working and become a full time musician opening up anytime soon.
Although, I am firm believer that one ought never to say never.
For now, though, you’d be surprised how much art a person can turn out just by working at it for an hour a day.
How about you other creative types who are also full time workers and/or students? How do you still manage to keep your creativity alive while also keeping track of your other responsibilities?