Burnout: surprisingly refreshing

Today I am equal parts burnt-out and refreshed. You know that feeling when you’re at the end of your rope, but there’s actually a strange sense of release once you get there? Yeah – I’m there. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I need to let go sometimes. (I always seem to remember that after I’ve put myself through the ringer, though).

I am such a stress-head. I get all hyped up and focused when I’m working towards a goal. But in the process, I neglect everything else, including my own well-being. I’ve been living on junk, caffeine and nicotine mints for the past couple of weeks, and feel disgusting.  I fucked my shoulder up again from sitting at the computer for, like, 4 hours straight on the weekend (an old injury which flares up now and then). This morning, I went to the Osteopath and he was like, “for God’s sake Bec, you have to go to the gym, do your stretches after playing bass and take care of yourself”. Wah! This quote from a super-fun name book says it very well: ”…Rebecca can be a wonderful dark horse. However, there is a chance that she is actually a racehorse wearing blinkers, in which case she can be incredibly frustrating, if not completely deluded. See how you go…” Hahaha. I do hope I’m not ‘completely deluded’, but the race-horse-wearing-blinkers thing is a pretty good assessment. I woke up in the middle of the night last night, sweating, my mind racing with ‘things to do’. Then, under the weight of that pressure, something inside me cracked, and I just let it all go. FUCK IT! I need to relax, and concentrate on one thing at a time. Maybe actually meditate sometimes.

Self-love is a very multi-faceted thing. I think I expect a lot from people, especially myself. I have always been a high achiever, even going back to grade school days. But there’s definitely a pattern with me; self encouragement and self-belief turn into me putting tons of pressure on myself, and then hating and punishing myself when I don’t ‘measure up’. I can remember even in fourth grade feeling overwhelmed when I felt the weight of too much pressure. (I did go to a pretty fancy private school with a big homework load until 5th grade…maybe that set up the pattern…but I think it’s an innate thing to me, too). I am going to make it a priority now to find some balance in the way I do things. There’s nothing wrong with being focused, but I need to remember to love and forgive myself too, to treat myself with kindness and care!

(I wanted to have a good source to mine for this, but when I googled ‘music’ and ‘feeling pressure’, mainly what came up were a whole bunch of articles about Paris Hilton’s second album. Now I feel strangely calmed, because at least my band’s crappy 4-track EP has more chance at critical acclaim than that. I hate to be an asshole, because everyone has the right to make music if they want. But it annoys me to see people buying their way into music when they clearly have no talent! Grr!)

Must we go through this again? Must we?

Oh, and an awesome video where The Chaser’s War on Everything marches into a Hilton hotel chain to demand a refund for Paris’ album:

Anyway…my bitchiness aside…what am I so focused on?  Well, it’s finally time for some action with my band The Halls. (W00t!) We have recording of our first lo-fi EP scheduled on the 16th/17th of this month. (I’m totally going to take photos and blog the process when I can!) We’re really looking forward to this! But it means stepping up our rehearsal schedule, and lots of talks about EP art and setting up a website and promo photos…and blah, blah, blah. Of course, it’s fun, but also a bit exhausting and overwhelming. I just wanna play music and write songs!  But to be a semi-functioning band these, you do need to organise all that other stuff. I am the official band ‘manager’ for the time being, so a lot of this organising is on me. I nominated myself to do it. Organization is something I can confidently say is a strength of mine. It doesn’t mean I always enjoy it, though!

In a recent band meeting, I asked the band for a 5-10% cut of our earnings, as the acting band ‘manager’. This was something suggested by another self-managed muso at a music workshop. The band agreed, and I’m glad I got the balls together to put value on what I do. There is so much behind-the-scenes crap to take care of, and in my last band, it sometimes felt like a thankless chore. I sound like all I’m doing is complaining about it, I know. Most of the time, I actually enjoy it. But I also take it really seriously, and it can involve many, many hours per week of phone calls, internet trolling, researching, emailing, etc.

During the meeting, we also set up a 12-month band plan.  I’ve read/heard in countless blogs/music workshops that a 12-month plan is essential for keeping your group on track. Of course, we may not get everything done in the time we hope, but it’s a good guide. I think it was beneficial for us to get it down on paper. Now we can visualise what we are doing next, and why. There’s heaps to do so! Here’s a taste…

JUNE: Practice at least twice a week til recording. Record EP. Get some promo photos taken. Organize EP art. Film a promo video for ‘Dancing on Your Grave’. JULY: Book heaps of gigs. Get CDs printed. Get website running. Set up mailing list. Release EP, including free downloads. Upload songs to Triple J Unearthed. Upload photos and videos to social media.

And so on – perhaps it doesn’t sound like that much, but it’s quite a lot to get done in 2 months. Maybe I’ve underestimated the timeframe a bit; but we’ll just do it as quickly as we can, without compromising the quality of anything…and see what happens!

I’m noticing that I have an impatient desire to ‘skip ahead’ all the time. I already want to skip forwards and do some things I’ve marked for later on in the year. But it really would be better if I just waited until certain other things are in place, such as recording, photos, a website, etc. I need to curb this impatience! Lucky, now I also have this blog as a creative outlet.

We’ve enlisted my good friend, who is an excellent graphic designer, to do the promo photos, EP design and a website for us. I’m excited about working with him, and I think he has a great style that meshes well with us. I know they say you shouldn’t mix friendship with business, but I think in this case (especially as an indie band), it will wind up a good thing. Plus, I think working with friends and having fun can give things a personal touch.

One more thing that was hard the other day was letting go of a song, ‘Thespian’, that I really wanted to be on the EP. I was voted down 3 to 1, though, in favour of another song (‘The Sea is Red’). I love ‘The Sea is Red’, too, but felt strongly about keeping ‘Thespian’. The boys think it sounded sort of dated, though, and is a better live song than recorded. I hope it’s a good decision, but it seemed very wrong to continue imposing my opinion when 3 people clearly thought differently. The perils of democracy…maybe I can wangle it onto the next release…

Well, that’s about all my complaining out of the way! If anyone is interested in some band-building tips, the blog Make in in Music has some great articles. Two good reads I’ve found lately have been on building a website and mailing list and ‘7 steps to break your band in 2012’.

Also, if you or someone you know is an indie/unsigned musician and want to be reviewed, please feel free to get in touch. I’m interested in featuring new talent on here once a week, and would love to hear some of your stuff. Even if you want to be interviewed or do a guest article, get in touch!

Have an awesome day, and thanks, as always, for reading! xo

PS: I now have a Facebook page & Twitter for this blog, so connect with me 🙂

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2 Responses to Burnout: surprisingly refreshing

  1. bradthebrad says:

    Wow, sounds like you’re going to be kept busy! Best of luck and thanks for viewing my blog:)

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