The Story of "Tilt"

2011 will bring what I hope is an end to a triad of very, very trying years. Since 2008, my circle of long-time friends experienced the loss of 3 of our own, in what can only be described as a surreal and bizarre series of events. Out of respect to their families, I’ll keep the last names and circumstances private. I will say that each of them passed suddenly, without any warning whatsoever, and that their consecutive deaths sent shockwaves through us which resonated furthermore with each one. Not only were these close friends, but each of them were fellow musicians, and something that really haunts me is knowing that they will never have the chance to fully realize the potential of their gifts. I remember when we were teenagers. The world would be ours. Sky was the limit.

So when each passed so suddenly, and at such a young age (at MY age!), my worldview capsized. No longer did I feel that invincibility, that complacency towards life that comes with believing you’ll live forever. I was now confronted with my own mortality, and it was devastating.

At first, I literally teetered on the edge of insanity, my own personal hell. Those closest to me will recount that I was in shambles. My psyche had been disturbed to a dangerous level, where the questions I used to gleefully philosophize over, like God and the nature of reality, were now terrifying subjects. Did I want to know? Have I been lied to? Who AM “I”, anyhow?!

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After many months of struggling to just simply “get my life back”, I reached a turning point. The overwhelming fear of life that had been crippling me was beginning to transition into a childlike curiosity, something I’d lost a long time before amidst my cynicism and angst. I now saw the world, or more precisely, Existence altogether, with new eyes. I realized I no longer wanted that old life back. Without knowing it, I’d already been set out on a journey, towards peace of mind, self-actualization, and Truth. This rebirth of sorts is what I now refer to as “the tilt”.

So I’ve spent the last 18 months or so reading, writing, listening, watching…essentially absorbing stories and philosophies from all walks of life. I’ve talked to priests, monks, artists, professors, businessmen, doctors, preachers, everyone who’d give me their time. Have I stumbled on the “One Great Answer” that could ultimately go uncontested? No. Not exactly.

But there does seem to be a common thread. Beyond the questions, beyond our conceptualizing, and beyond this material world, there is “something” that drives us, ALL of us; the priests, the artists, the businessmen, etc… Some guiding force that we can choose to follow or ignore. But it’s always there, waiting for our next move. Our lives are not an accident, nor are our conditions. There are lessons in adversity, but we can’t sleep through class. Every moment counts. At any given time, this guide can be accessed, with an untouchable clarity, in the silence and the stillness.

I hope this record speaks to you. I hope it will connect with you in a way that, at any time along your journey, you can revisit it and it will continue to serve you.

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Dedicated to all those I’ve loved and lost. -BRS

Now Available in the STORE

Birds.

As I walk through the woods and watch as the birds swiftly dance from tree to tree, I’m struck with awe. Always in formation, always in balance, they rely on one another to move forward, and they return to those who’ve fallen behind. And despite our best efforts to bring ugliness and shame to this planet, they resist, and respond with more compassion, and more love. They remain centered and steady, pointed always towards that which comes naturally. Let me be their student.

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ps. photo and words by me.

Misunderstoodedness.

Yes. I made up a word.

I feel I deserve a little creative license, since this is, in fact, my blog.

But the word embodies the content of this post (my first Blog, I might add!).

"Misunderstoodedness": The state of being misunderstood.

Synonymous with: "Artist"

I was provoked to finally start punching in on this blog this afternoon, after being confronted with a question of such staggering naivety, such skewed perspective, I honestly didn't know how to answer.

The question came from a young guy, we'll call him Pete, who saw me making notes on a legal pad and was curious about what I was writing. I told him "We're about to release an album, and I'm brainstorming how to promote it".  Here's where  we hit a brick wall.

His response was...: "When are you gonna start being an Artist?"

Uuuuuuuuuhhhhhmmmmmmmmm......

WHAT?!?!

Wow. Where do we go from here? Did you not just hear me tell you about a new album?

A few very sarcastic responses came rushing to mind, such as "Ohhhh... about twenty something years ago", and "When are you gonna STOP being a boneheaded twit?"

Alas, I bit my lip, took a deep breath, and came out with, "I AM an Artist. What exactly are you asking me Pete?".

He quipped with "No you're not. How much money is it making you? You're not famous".

Now keep in mind this is someone I've known a good bit, and I consider Pete a friend. But DAMN, is this his perception of me, and of the Non-Celebrity-Artist community at large??

At this point I was so befuddled I could only retort with a question of my own: "What do you think qualifies as 'Being An Artist?' "

"Someone who people know. Lot's of people buy your music. You make a lot of money from your music...", says Pete.

"Pete I've been writing and recording for years", I said. "Art is the end result of the creative process. Call it what you want, but an Artist makes Art, and that's what I do. Regardless of the commercial payoff of my creation, I'll continue to do it. I have to."

He smirked, I smirked, we high-fived, and that was the end of it.  Whether or not I got through to him, or if we just agreed to disagree, I can't be sure. If nothing else, I made it clear I'm firm where I stand on the matter.

Now, any personal offenses aside, I tell this story to illustrate a bigger concern, one I've carried around for a while.

It's no secret that the music business has changed dramatically. Just within this decade we've seen the old model collapse on itself, so breaking out is more difficult for us musicians than ever before. While the internet has unleashed a seemingly limitless field of opportunity to promote yourself, it's also oversaturated the market to the point that we unwittingly go numb to the full experience of music. We find a new YouTube songster or Twitter savvy band every single day, which DON'T GET ME WRONG, is an awesome and amazing thing. I mean let's face it, you're probably reading this because you discovered MY music on the web somewhere, and for that I tip my hat to you!

THAT BEING SAID, this daily bombardment limits the time we spend with any one song/album/artist. Instead of being an enriching, possibly life changing experience, music becomes ephemeral, a passing tickling of our senses to be quickly replaced by the next. How then, are we to discriminate what truly qualifies as Art, and therefore, as valuable?

It's no wonder piracy has destroyed record sales. And it's also no wonder Pete has a distorted idea on what an "artist" looks like..probably something like this:

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If the alternative is to struggle in order to stay true, that's where you'll find me, churning out musical offerings from my lot in misunderstoodedness.

-Brett

PS. For the record, I'm aware this doesn't apply across the board. There are still many of you who truly savor every ounce of your favorite music, and needless to say support it's creator through and through.

You, my friends, are a priceless rarity, and should win your own award. ;-)