A highly experienced and fantastic London producer once told me something that has since been lodged into my brain for the subsequent three years. I remember the day well: the anxious train journey, that inevitable excitement that somebody has taken even the smallest interest in you and your work. She heard me out, smiled politely and said very clearly: ‘this is going to happen. This is going to work for you, but not how you imagine it now.’
Oh, advice to live by! That comment gave me what I needed: a brand-new mindset. We all have dreams; I believe as human beings we need to strive for something beyond our nine-to-five routine. We feed on dreams; they give us a reason for being. Creative dreams are amongst the most spectacular of all (although maybe I am biased.) They are also the most coveted. How many of us long for our name in lights? Whether you want to tour the world in a rock band, write a sell-out Broadway show or hit the highest note known to mankind, we all have those fantasies. I am a long way away from any of the above, and most people are. But, over the past five years, I have progressed from messing about on my piano to producing a contemporary ballet with West End professionals and members of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. I would never in a million years have predicted it. The words of that producer stuck with me, a year or so into the project, and have made me reflect on what changed since. And, the ultimate question: how do we get past the ‘dream’ stage?
In the world of X-factor and weekly hopeful lottery tickets, it’s easy to believe that somebody will randomly come up to you one evening and offer you a million-pound record deal. If it doesn’t happen, we tell ourselves, then it’s not meant to be. Ah well, back to our day job. Wrong! You can achieve your creative goals. That is a fact and not an opinion. It just might not be how you imagine it now. The first thing you need to do is make a conscious decision to follow that dream. This is going to mean taking risks. It’s going to mean taking criticism. It is going to mean looking at options and decisions in life and choosing to take the one that will lead you to your dreams.
If you try something on a whim and strike gold the first time around then congratulations! You are either an anomaly, eerily lucky or so talented you don’t need to be reading this blog in the first place. For the rest of us ordinary people, it is going to take a little longer. I cannot stress this enough: take every opportunity life throws at you. Talk about your goals to everyone – drive them mad! Network – find people who might be able to help, or who know people who might be able to help. Meet them. Show them your work; discuss your goals and push for more contacts from them. Some of my most valuable contacts have come from the most random of places. I met a West End musical director through a friend of my landlady. I found myself in Sevenoaks Council discussing promotion because of somebody I knew mentioning me in Tesco. I have spoken to people who know a designer, who knows a producer, who knows somebody who could help…it can be a very long process, but there are people out there who will believe in you! Those contacts, those people who can help you, are out there somewhere! You just have to accept that you are going to need these people, and then find them, whatever it takes!
Trust and believe in yourself and your work, but be prepared to take detours, unfamiliar routes and alternative approaches. Listen to the advice people give you and think carefully about whether or not you want to take it. From a performance perspective, push yourself to practice. Get in touch with a location recorder (head to Randall Rekords for that!) and get a demo. Send that demo to record labels. Take the gig. Bug people with emails asking for exposure and experience. If you take it upon yourself to make your dream happen, you will achieve it. You will need immense patience and perseverance, but you will get there. Most of all: keep going. Whatever it is, don’t give up. It is going to work, but it might not be how you imagine it now.
If you take one thing away from this blog today: make that decision to chase your dream. It might just change your life.
Tutor Tura Paice