Right after New Years, in the wee hours of 2013, I somehow managed to stumble on a fascinating article in a business magazine. What got my attention right away was the title - it said "To Hell With The Zero Summers". My first thought was, "how in the #&!$ did this dude find out about us", followed by, "why does he hate us so much"? My insatiable curiosity piqued, I couldn't help but read on.
Much to my relief, he actually wasn't talking about us (at least not at first), he was talking about negative people that we all have in our life. You know, the ones who refuse to give support, moral or otherwise, to anyone around them because they believe success is a small pie, with finite pieces, and the more you share, the less you have. Luckily, a lot of us grow up and realize that this gets us nowhere and drags the rest of the world down with us. But I tend to agree with the writer of this article- there are still too many people out there with that attitude. But they're no concern of ours, at least not anymore.
See, I used to spend nearly every second of every day worrying about what other people think of me, hanging on their compliments, or their insults, or their reactions (or no reaction at all), getting dejected, giving up all hope, and then starting all over again. I only wish I had learned my lesson earlier- what people do or say to me or about me, is based on extremely limited knowledge of the world, my music, and all of the ridiculous assumptions that zero summers make: “If I just ignore him and his music he'll eventually give up and go away.” Or, “I'd better ignore them, or better yet, put them down, so that I can make myself look better”.
Well, I'm happy to say that almost a year after starting The Zero Summers, and nearing the completion of our debut album, I've seen through it. No matter what you do, someone out there is going to try to convince you not to do it, not to make any changes, to stay where you are, to be comfortable, to fit in, to not rock the boat. But paid no attention to those voices and it's the best thing that ever happened to us.
Whatever your dream is, don't let the those negative voices get you down. In the end the only person you need to listen to is yourself. If you can find people who inspire you and encourage you, listen to them too, bounce your ideas off them, help each other do things you couldn't have done otherwise.
So, this year, in 2013, The Zero Summers are moving forward. We're releasing our long awaited debut album, we know it's not perfect. But it's good, it gets your heart pumping and your body feels like moving in another direction. It's an inertia changing album. We know there are people out there who won't care. But because we're The Zero Summers, not simply zero summers, and what those people say simple doesn't matter anymore...
David of The Zero Summers
I recently read an interesting thread of comments on another social media site that presented two radically different views of how musicians should go about promoting their music. The first was basically "just spend tons of money on professional marketing" and the other was "just make good music and if it's really good people will like it and you'll be successful". The first thought I have when reading those kinds of threads is how easily we tend to get stuck in either/or conundrums. If life presents us with ying AND yang, we tend to interpret that as ying OR yang. The voices-that-be tell us that to be "legit" we either have to be a poor DIY musician who is living at his/her whim and making 'art for arts sake', while living a freewheeling lifestyle on the streets of nowhereland, OR a wealthy kid with all the money and time in the word to endlessly throw at producers, marketers, and whoever else wants to make money with other people's music (and that option certainly does exist, but not for me). At some level we buy into it, and it's just not so.
The view that musicians should be willing to pay to get help getting their music out there is essentially correct, but for those of us who are trying to make music without selling out (read, "we make real music that moves us, not necessarily music that will make huge companies a ton of money"), while supporting our families, it's extremely complex. I'm talking about those of us who have been working on our craft for a long time, and are finally making music we can be proud of, that fans enjoy, but are also supporting a family. If we take the either/or view, our music career is in a very precarious situation. Maybe I'm the only one in that boat...who knows. But if we learn to see things creatively, with a flexible mind, we can all find a way to fulfill our musical mission (or WHATEVER we feel the universe is calling us to do), without having to sacrifice family and friends.
It's definitely important to have support in our quest to 'make it', but do we need to sell our souls to get it? I'm hoping the answer is no. In any case, it comes down to this: if NO ONE out there is willing to give you credit for your good music (or writing, or other creative work) and help you market it without charging exorbitantly up front, it will NEVER get to the people who would eventually like it. Artists should realize that they can't expect to go it alone and magically find success, but they also need to find the people who believe in them and NOT the people who just want to charge them for services. Then they need to be willing to share their victories.
Sometimes it's really hard to know who's out there just to make a buck of your tunes and fanbase, and who REALLY BELIEVES that you have something worth betting on. I guess that's where we have to be smart enough to not put all our eggs in one basket, and use EVERY tool at our disposal to get our art out there (maybe NOT to the industry, but rather to the FANS). I guess it's kind of a catch 22: we can't really have true believers without making great music, and you can't make great recordings (on a tight budget) without some help from people who believe in you. It's hard to get one without the other, but I still think it's doable. Maybe it just takes time??
Anyway, this last week, we feel like we really connected with several listeners, and that shows that our music fills a space that nothing else can fill. We're so happy to be finding real fans, and people who are helping us record the music we want to make, and amazing people who are finding our music and sharing it with the rest of the world because it moves them in some way or other, whether internally or externally.
Thanks to all of you who believe in us, who enjoy our music either because its different and original or despite it being different! We'll keep making it for you, because so much of it is still left to write!
-David of The Zero Summers
Five years ago, I was living in Buenos Aires, travelling to work in Mexico, and nearing a six digit salary as a conference interpreter and translator. But for some reason, I just wasn't happy. What was wrong?? Nothing, really. I had done everything I said I'd do, and even some I thought were impossible. But one thing was missing: I wasn't connected to anybody, or anything, except maybe a bank account.
As so eloquently stated by Nietzsche, the only thing that gives my life meaning, no matter what else is happening, is music. So, I took all my savings and added a home recording studio to my precarious setup of live instruments that I have hauled with me to Tokyo and back, and set about the task of getting my hundreds of dust-caked songs polished up and ready to record. Then I realized: having a home recording studio in the middle of nowhere, Buenos Aires, wasn't going to connect me any more than being a linguist in the middle of nowhere, so I decided to come back to Utah, where I have a few friends and family left. I don't care if I make money with this, honestly, it's just the way I connect with people. I love people, and want to make them happy, and that's music for me.
And now that I'm back, I'm looking for that connection, through songwriting, through collaboration. I hope you'll connect with me, too. I'm always looking for artists, songwriters, and musicians of all kinds to jam with, share with, experience life with, and write good music with, and really anyone who wants to get involved in any aspect of music. And I love hearing from listeners about what touched them or turn them off to a song, cause songwriters are organic and ever-changing beings, and yes, we too, can learn from our mistakes.
What kind of songs will I write now?? I guess that dependends on how the world around me changes, and the people I will connect with (you), but I have no intention of stopping, and hope you'll come with me on this journey of experimentation, and self-exploration, where we all learning to create and enjoy genuine songs. Enjoy my friends.
David of The Zero Summers (Previously The Dahlia Project and Glass Canvas)