Behind the Screen (BTS): We often see photos or other forms of art on our phones, but may not know much about the artists themselves. BTS introduces the art, the creative process, and ultimately reveals the individuals behind the art.
The concept is simple: create a daily one minute short score inspired by a photo. While some are more structured and others more free flowing, the serene scores perfectly match the mood of the accompanying photo. In practice though, the creation of these scores requires a commitment to waking up at the crack of dawn and letting go of the idea of perfection.
Briefly describe your project and why you started this project.
NS: I pick a photo that inspires me, create a one-minute video out of it, compose a short score to it, then post it on Instagram and Facebook. The photos are usually friends’ photos since I like the collaborative nature of using a friend’s photo.
I started this project mainly as an exercise. I had fallen into a huge rut before and went a long time without creating anything, so I needed something to get me back into a productive state. My biggest issue when trying to create is chasing perfection. When you slip into that mentality, you can work on a piece for way too long and potentially suck the life out of it. This project was a perfect way to counteract that because it applies a time restriction, both in terms of the actual length of the score and the amount of time I have to make it (I usually do it in the morning before going to work). Those restrictions force me to forego the “chasing perfect” mentality and just create and share something.
What’s your motivation for continuing this project?
NS: Well, I’ve come to really enjoy my morning sessions. It’s very calming, therapeutic, and meditative to be up early working on my craft. There’s less distraction, less noise, and you don’t have a head full of thoughts and stress that tend to build up over the course of the day. Everything just seems to flow more naturally for me in the early mornings. I also love the feeling of having accomplished something before going to my day job, whether it be finishing a short score or having a good workout at the climbing gym.
How do you get past roadblocks?
NS: I’ve learned that taking breaks is highly conducive to productivity. It’s really easy to get caught up in the act and then before you realize it, you’ve been sitting and tweaking away for hours nonstop. So when I start to feel like I’m losing that creative momentum, I take a break. The break can be as simple as just going to the kitchen and making some coffee and staring out the window for a bit, or doing something physical like practicing on my hangboard. The physical activity gives me something else to focus on and pulls my mind away from what I was listening to for hours. Sometimes this works so well I completely forget what the song sounds like, which is great because when I go back I can hear it from a fresh perspective.
Rock climbing has helped me tremendously with my approach to making music because there are so many parallels between the two in terms of progress. The best way to start dealing with roadblocks in general is acknowledging the fact that they’re normal and part of the process, as frustrating as they may be. Just like with climbing, I know I’m going to have a lot of off days. I’m going to feel weak and have trouble finishing problems at the climbing gym. Nothing I play on the piano will stick and everything will sound uninspiring. But again, just like with climbing, I need to take a lot of breaks and be okay with failure. At the end of the day, I’ll just be glad that I showed up and tried my best.
Are there any connections between your personal style or tattoos and your music?
NS: I’ve honestly never thought of my style/tattoos and my music having any connection at all! I guess one connection I can think of is that when I make a piece of music and share it with the world, it’s printed. Engraved. Done. Forever there, just like my tattoos, whether I like it or not. I do feel that my music now is a lot more organic and free flowing than before. I guess my first tattoo, the geometric one, can symbolize the period when I was making a lot of house music and techno.
What about your personal background has shaped, formed or influenced who you are as an artist?
NS: Oh man, so many things. I really believe that any artist working on his or her craft is imbuing it with their personal background, past experiences, upbringing, and so forth. I think even the most simple things can have a profound effect on my work, like a good conversation, seeing something unusual on my way to work, or watching a good movie. I just try to stay open to everything because inspiration comes from everywhere in all forms. So to answer your question, it’s everything about my personal background – all of my experiences, everything I’ve ever enjoyed or hated, relationships, heartbreak, friendships, family, ex-friendships, desires, insecurities, every emotion, the list goes on.