The Four Big "W`s"

I've always had trouble finding topics for an article that hasn't been discussed a hundred times over. Currently I'm in the middle of writing and recording for my upcoming release so, I thought I'd focus on questions I struggle with before I start a new project.

I try to consider the four big "W's":

  1. Who am I as an artist?
  2. What do I have to say?
  3. Who will listen?
  4. Will anybody care?

There are so many great guitarists out there, what could I possibly say with my instrument that would be different, inspirational or even interesting? I always drive myself insane pondering this so, I try to consider each topic individually or I'll throw my hands up and profess "what's the use?"...the fifth W.

  1. Who am I as an artist? Many guitarists are so caught up in the whole technique thing that they lose focus of what being a musician is all about. It's about being identifiable and unique. For example, what do you in-vision when you think about Hendrix? A flamboyant image that matches his aggressive soulful songs? What about Zappa? Complex arrangements with a lot of sarcasm and humor? What about Steve Vai? Whacked guitars and little green aliens? When I was younger I was posing in front of a mirror trying to emulate these guys. Don't laugh, you know you did to!
    To stand out like the greats you have to determine your niche and define yourself within it. This is the single most important thing to understand as a musician/guitarist.
  2. What do I have to say? If I'm spending the time and money recording a CD, I hope it's a lot! Have you ever read interviews were the musician made a statement like "well, when I recorded this song I was feeling or experiencing this and that". That's basically the point. Your songs should represent personal experiences and your emotional state at the time of writing it. The CD on the other hand should be a culmination of all those different things wrapped into one overall theme. A fun and added benefit is that you'll get to use the statement "that's just where my head was at" when doing an interview.
  3. Who will listen, or "whom do I want to listen?" Anybody, everybody, nobody, mybody? Here's my musical definition for these terms.
    • Anybody: Desperately trying to get ones music heard after following step 1 but forgetting step 2.
    • Everybody: Applying step 2 and intentionally skipping step 1.
    • Nobody: Someone who skipped steps 1 and 2 thinking their technical prowess will succor everyone's desire.
    • Mybody: Someone in my niche that's interested in what I have to say.
  4. Will anybody care when this CD comes out? Nostradomas I'm not, nor are you. Unfortunately there is no answer to this question. Often people write songs that they think will sell and their music comes across sounding contrived... or worse, it just plain sucks.

To me, the best philosophy is: Find your zone (e.g. step 1) then play, write and record for yourself - and those who don't like "be damned!".

In today's world, the yin and yang precept has never meant more than it has for a musician. You've got to dig deep to find the Karma hidden on your guitar's fretboard.

Brian Loyd is a technically adept and versatile guitarist who believes in expressing every emotion possible through music, and who does not believe in compromising one's muscial integrity.

His instrumental CD is entitled "Gutted".

Brian Loyd