I’m sent a fair amount of questions via the MoaT, and I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t answered many of them. Here’s one I received recently:
Are you happy with your career? Does the success you’ve achieved make you happy, or is it just another monotonous job?
Over the past couple years, I’ve realized that success (money and stuff), doesn’t make me happy. Making good art does.
I’ve been a professional musician my entire adult life and, thankfully, it’s yet to become another monotonous job. When I felt done freelancing for the Seattle Symphony, I stopped, and when I noticed myself burning out on the Allen Stone gig, I stepped away and threw myself into being a bandleader and generally learning new skills. Over the years, I’ve been pretty good about checking in and staying light on my feet.
Learning how to do new things makes me happy. And being successful is sort of an indefinable thing, anyway. I’m aware that I’m lucky, in that I’ve been able to travel the world playing music that, for the most part, people seem to like. It’d be easy for me, say, to start an instrumental guitar/funk band, and more palatable for Al Stone fans. However, my new band’s closer to Tom Petty meets the 1975, but it’s the music I want to make, and I’m pretty sure that in the making of it, I’ll be happy.
If I felt like I was as successful as I could possibly be making music (which doesn’t have a lot to do with money or acclaim, but rather getting better as a writer and performer), then I’d probably go do something else. Luckily, most of the time I see how far what I wanted to create is from what I actually made, and that’s enough to keep me chasing the horizon.