I recently returned from my second trip to the NAMM convention. Its now my 3rd time in California, and that drug, the vibe, it never wears thin on me. From the long long ass haul across the pond, all 11 hours of it, coupled with a pressure cabin headache, nothing could break the trance i was under.
Maybe plane food has that effect i cant say, but im always in an excited stupor about heading to the west coast of the U.S.
What draws me there again and again isnt just NAMM, its so much deeper and more connective than that. It really is the entire wrap around atmosphere when you step off the plane. Standing at terminal 2 awaiting your ride, im just smiling from ear to ear.
This one was really special to me. Finally getting to spend time with some friends i have made over the years, and when you do finally meet, there is no awkward pauses, nothing aloof or odd, its just putting on your comfy slippers, grabbing a coffee and gliding into it seamlessly.
You tend to notice a lot of cultural differences each time you make that trip. They begin as subtle nudges but after a short while, its a constant flurry of really cool differences in behavior, expectation, ambition, colloquial nuances and well, they have much nicer places to eat than ive seen here!
I tend to spend a lot of time day dreaming too when im out there. I guess being so close and personal with your own daily life and the things you convince yourself are relevant, the stress you pile onto stress, it all seeps away for a short while.
That moment that grabs you when you just miss your family. You know what they really mean to you in a out of body kind of way. I mean 5500 miles has that instant effect on your whole system.Its not jet lag, although i feel i have consistently lost all my battles with the time zones, its that longing. But part of me loves that. I think its healthy to have a moment or too when you are so far removed from your life, you have a chance to see all the rich heart tugging value, passion in its wake.
Im probably the worst guy to have go to NAMM and come back and report all the findings. Utterly awful. Id make a terrible journo, even a fake one…….
but it was a brilliant show. I visited last for this in 2013. This time round its a completely new vibe which i wasnt expecting. In the space of each passing hour, you see people you never met, those who your so glad to have spent time with. Its the hub of all things creative and musical.You can effectively walk in and be blinded by all the “things you want” and come out with sore feet and a shopping list, and thats fine. But i came away with so much more.
Taking the break from writing, im not a travel and write guy just yet, its so refreshing to cleanse your head of every project your working on and allow new ideas in, letting people into that space where only busy ideas and music occupy. Its then that it strikes me, more and more its about your connection to people.
There isnt a community unless you have something to contribute. Whether your driving people nuts, too many opinions, dont know when to speak or shut the hell up, but its what you bring and how it matters. How people matter.
So when im standing there with friends and colleagues i dont get to see all year round, i am the big softy. I am just enjoying every second. It feeds a part of you that we spend so much time guarding. Its perhaps, the easiest thing to be to become a cynic. To scathe and hurl banter, make gossip, turn someones thoughts, words and music on its head, so its time we just cut away all the people in our lives that feed on this.
When you only surround yourself with people who love what they do, adore the craft, relish new ideas, the competitive streak always has little to cling onto. You are embalmed in a kind of butter! haha. Nothing bad will stick to you. Being in this part of the world, it always makes this feeling louder. Its amplified above all the noise, all your own head noise.
Its funny but it takes all those convos when you meet, to yet again affirm that you are far from the only one feeling all the weird insecurities. On any level, on any rung of the career ladder, every single creative has this pang.
We often work alone in our humming tech filled rooms. The sound of coolers, a mug of coffee within reach, staring into a screen more often occupied by someones rant on facebook.
Eventually we plunge into our next project, the next big cue. Its so so easy to become too isolated. Its already too easy to make music. i mean its absurdly easy to put out something that can stand up against the next best cue. Too easy maybe.
Im not a “turn up to all the events” kinda guy, never have been and never will be, so maybe thats part the reason my pilgrimage to NAMM, to California hits me so hard in all the best ways you can imagine. Some self cast chains are cut from you, you soar above all the mundane and you start reaching for something again.
Every single time, i swear down, bar none, ive come home and felt invincible. Like there isnt any good tangible reason not to succeed and meet those expectations. Again though, its not just that climate, easy going vibe, the tempo of life, its the people you surround yourself with.
This time round was a little different, new. Something has changed in me and a week on nearly and i cant shake the feeling. Its like ive got shot once and for all, the negativity cloud that just stalks you somedays. I looked above me, felt my tee for any rain spots and nope, nada, its still clear and positive up there.
There must have been some in flight exorcism service i was unaware of just before the “finger sandwich” and weaponised blueberry muffin.I could ramble on for hours about the weight thats off my shoulders, which is odd actually as ive committed to so many things now, in theory i should be under the care of Nurse Ratchet for what im taking on, but im not. I love it, bring it on.
If a simple trip to California does this, if its the bewildering charm and spell of Namm at full tilt, so be it. I cant bottle it, i cant sell it on, but i would recommend anything that performs a rest or reboot in your mind and heart. If there is something you can do to disarm and just embrace something, anything that makes you sit up and love all those big things in your life, reminds you that you bloody can, then take it at all costs.