By Rollo Skinner
Play new. Play for you.
I’m playing my first real gig on Saturday night.
And I’m frustrated.
My vocal highlight at SCA thus far was my harmonious turn, howling in the John Lewis Parody advert. Melodic or not, it certainly was ‘different’.
Following in a canine trend, I’ll be singing with my band, currently named ‘Famous Wolf’. A working title that stuck.
Fun Fact: Rollo in Viking means Famous Wolf. Cheesy name — whether it lasts until tomorrow night is anyone’s guess. Suggestions welcome.
At yesterday’s rehearsal we ran the set list — 7 songs of Acoustic Folky Soul. Folk came first, and more recently we found our soul.
But as we played through the tracks it got me thinking. They feel old.
I don’t feel like we’ll be showing us. The real us. Where, creatively, we’re at now. And it’s frustrating.
The oldest I wrote nearly 3 years ago. Angel’s flight – named after the park in Downtown LA. If anyone’s seen 500 Days of Summer, Joseph Gordon Levitt’s character sits on a bench, overlooking the skyline. After putting it off, on my final weekend I trekked across the city to find the park locked. Scaling the high fence, I sat alone, enveloped by the skyline. I find out hours later it was closed, because too many people had been shot there.
Having played it so many times, I’m bored. Whilst I connect with the songs, I don’t feel a creative buzz.
The idea of playing them to 200 people in Hoxton on Saturday is unsettling. Naively, I think they’ll feel the way I do about them. Old.
But to the audience they’ll either be fresh and new, or just dissolve into the background of their evening, as yet another band plays yet another song. The need for abruption just as important here as in the studio.
Nick, the guitarist let’s us have a little jam. I try out a gospelly acapella false setto a.l.a The Soil. A South African acapella band Augustine and I got really into whilst making out gay pirate radio station. Perhaps we’ve spent a little too long following Helmut Krone’s quest for the new page, but there’s a sweet, buzzy euphoria in making new.
It seems a somewhat clunky link, to now liken this to our portfolios, but it’s apt. We must push to replace campaigns, because no matter how good, work will seem stale to us quickly.
Thom Yorke renamed Radiohead’s song, ‘Creep’, Crap, and refuses to play it. Even Madonna admitted, “I’m not sure I can sing ‘Holiday’ or ‘Like a Virgin’ ever again, unless somebody paid me $30 million or something.”
There’s a buzz you get when adding a new campaign to the book. It’s one we should thirst for. It’s the opposite of complacency. It’s progress.
Go into crits with work that feels fresh to you. I now understand the stories of teams doing completely new books in their final weeks at SCA.
Last term, Miranda and I spent too long finessing old campaigns and reformatting our book. Perfecting the same piece of work, whilst you don’t realise it, becomes creatively crippling.
So I’m going to push for buzz. Both in my music and in my book.
There’s no creativity is playing what you already know.
P.s since you don’t know it – have a listen.