Being Number One.

30th of July 2017 (Post by Kenny)

I keep hearing from people and reading at places that "You have to be the best" at what you do. Mostly I´m of course reading this in music related articles. It´s even more disturbing when I hear artists say it. 

You don´t. Absolutely not. You just have to be "Good enough". 

At least if you mean it in a way that is like being "the best" at playing the guitar. What would that even mean? Fastest? Loudest? Perfect sounding? Who is the "best" singer? Ridicoulos is what it is. 

For example, the imperfections of a singer is many times what makes that person sound unique, right? Because he/she can´t hit those high notes others can, they have to become better at singing low, which might create a more unique tone in whatever music it is they sing to. Our flaws make us human.

I personally love the way Jared Leto (Thirty Seconds To Mars) sings, and in my opinon he is one of the "best" vocalists out there, and I would love to be able to sing like him, but it won´t happen. My voice is too different, and I just "don´t have it" to be able to reach that level. So should I stop singing? Absolutely not. I´m sure I can become better than I am today and count myself as "Good enough" in the future, but I will practise because I love singing. Not becuase I want to be the best. It´s a weird thing to strive for in my opinion.  

Please don´t misunderstand me, I absolutely think we should strive at becoming great, but it shouldn´t be at the cost of our sanity. And being "best" is just so pointless. Most people probably don´t aim for becoming the best anyway, but for some of us it´s an important reminder I think.

For along time I lived my life feeling that I had to be "the best" if I was going to do anything, and I just ended up pushing myself too hard and not taking the time to enjoy the progress I made.  I still do it at times. 

It also made me scared of doing many things. For example I wanted for a long time to learn how to mix music, because I felt like I understood it enough to do it since I had been doing it for years already at the time, but I had no formal education, and everybody knew you had to have education to be a sound-engineer. Bullshit. This is music we are talking about, there are no rules! 

That was a lesson Pontus Hjelm of Dead By April taught me. He agreed to let me intern with him in his studio for a few months back in 2012, and he taught me alot. Not necessarily about mixing to be honest, (he absolutely taught me alot though) but about daring to try. Most of the days we actually spent talking and having fun, and in a way that was much more valuable to me at that point than any lesson in mixing. I learned alot about trusting in my own abilities, and learning by doing. And now a few years later I can say that I know how to make an album sound good. I´m by no means an expert, and again, not "the best", but I can make music sound good. And I of course mean to become better, because I love doing it.  

You should always strive at becoming better at whatever it is you do, no matter if you´re a doctor, an engineer, a truck driver, a pilot or a musician. It doesn´t matter. But do it because you want to, or at the very least becuase it makes your life better/easier.

It´s an illusion that you have to be the best to succeed in life, and it does more damage than good in my opinion. Imagine how many young people have thrown in the towel because they "weren´t good enough" at a sport or playing an instrument or something. Who knows how good they could have become with some practice, or hey, why not just focus on the enjoyment of doing whatever it is you are doing, just becuase it´s fulfilling? Nooo, you have to be "best" to count.

Of course it isn´t odd that we think like this, our whole society is formed like this. We value those who outperform others more, in sports, in movies, in music etc. We shower them in money, hold them up as perfect, and they can get whatever they want. Who wouldn´t want that life? 

Anyway, what I´m saying is even if society won´t change there still is room for us mediocre people. I myself is far from the best guitar player. song-writer or vocalist, and I never will be, but I´m "Good enough" to pursue my dream. I´m definitely not the best sound engineer out there, but I´m "Good enough" to record and mix my own albums and a few others with good results. 

And there are tons of examples of artists and bands who have succeeded without being "the best". Whatever that even would mean, having the notion that you have to be the best is so stupid I don´t know where to begin. Who decides what is "best"? What I think is best, you would think is terrible. Which is perfect! 

I promise you that someone will always be better than you at some point even if you do become the best, so what´s the point of pursuing that? 

Being the best is not something to strive for. You will (probably) NEVER be the best. So why not relax a little and settle for being good enough? It´s a lesson I´m trying to learn myself, as relaxing isn´t my strongest side.  

And to end with a few words I find soothing that I have become prone to say for reminding me that we are all very small in the big whole, and that actually makes me feel lighter at heart weirdly enough; "What does the universe care?"


Loneliness & Individualism

25th of July 2017 (Post by Kenny)

Loneliness is an interesting thing.

A recent documentary I saw (https://www.svtplay.se/video/10458343/the-swedish-theory-of-love/dox-the-swedish-theory-of-love-avsnitt-1) took up the subject of loneliness and individualism, and that Sweden is the most individualistic country in the world.
We are also one of the countries with the highest suicide rate, and where someone can die in their apartment and lie undiscovered for months. No visitors, noone just wondering where somebody is. FOR MONTHS. That is so incredibly sad. And it happens from time to time. Mostly with elders as it seems, but that is actually even more sad. They didn´t even have a single friend who came around to talk once in a while.

Mostly they are discovered when it really starts to smell.

Then why are we so unhappy when Sweden is one of the most developed countries in the world along with many other countries with alot of suicides and depression, we have so much to be grateful for right? - Note, Most people ARE generally happy, just seems to me more of us should be.
We have taken being separate and not needing others to a whole new level, whereas it is considered a bad thing to need another person. I myself live my life to this principle too, mostly as I have become more and more secluded, focusing on "work" (music), not having the time to spend with a lot of friends etc, and feeling shame for not getting by on my own, not being "Strong" enough.
But in recent times (last few weeks) I have begun questioning it more, isn´t what makes us happy community? Doing things with others? Sharing moments etc. To need someone else shouldn´t be a bad thing. It just is. Alone is not stronger than together. It can´t be right? 

I read an interesting book called "Outliers" a few weeks ago, and in the beginning of the book the author talks about "The Rosetans" A bunch of Italian immigrants who came to America around 1890, and, that after many years in America, how they were healthier and happier than the populations of the surrounding towns where they lived. They seemed to die more less of heart conditions etc. Why then? It wasn´t diet or excercise, not genetics etc.
And when a Physcisian named Wolf began researching them he came to the conclusion after many different theories, that they were simply living a more connected life to eachother, living with their three generations of family in the same house, always taking the time to stop and talk to eachother on the street. helping and caring for everyone, and simply taking the time to BE it seems.
You can read the beginning of the book here: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/30/books/chapters/chapter-outliers.html

Chester Bennington R.I.P

20th of July 2017 (Post by Kenny)

Just read that Chester Bennington of Linkin Park has died. They say he hanged himself. It´s a very, very sad day. Our thoughts go to his friends and family.

He and Linkin Park has been with me for so long, and has been perhaps THE biggest influence in my songwriting. Their music helped me through many dark days in the past, and I still consider "Meteora" one of the best albums ever made. Of course it was obvious from interviews and lyrics that Chester had issues. And this just shows how dangerous depression and other mental health issues are, and need to be talked about more.

Shocking, terrible news. 

I´m so sad that I never got to meet him.

It might not have been the reason, but surely the latest shit Chester got from fans affected him, and hopefully people will think twice now before hating on artists doing what they love.

I personally didn't LOVE every single song LP released, but I absolutely respected and even admired their wish and courage to do different things. And they released so many awesome songs. Wouldn't it just have been easier to do the same album every time? Easier, but not very artistic.

And reading that some people (and some famous artists) actually already call him a coward for taking his life? Well fuck them, they probably have no clue what real depression is about, and noone knows exactly what he went through and why he did it. If you have ever been depressed enough to consider taking your life you know it isn´t about being a coward. There just doesn´t seem to be any other way to get out of whatever situation you are in, to end your thoughts, to stop being a burden to people, etc, etc. I´m not saying it´s right, I´m just saying that is how it might feel at the time. 
Show some damn respect and keep that opinion to yourself, at least for the time being. Let people grieve.

It's hard having a personal hero pass away. Someone you looked up to that had went through hard shit but somehow managed to get successful and live his life. It gave me lots of hope when I was younger and gave me courage to pursue my dreams in life. You didn't feel so alone when you knew others had gone through though shit and kept on going.

And now he chose to end it. 
I believe we are many who feel a bit empty today. So many of us that got through so much because of him and LP. We need people like Chester being a light in the dark.

And now the world is a bit darker. And we need to keep going.