Sunday, June 17, 2012

Warren Lain

Name: Warren Lain 
Website: See below

What do you do?
Right now, my energies are split between teaching and making music. On YouTube, I teach songs and sometimes perform original music, and on SoundCloud and Official.FM I put out songs and soundtrack pieces. I am working on a solo album and an online music course.

Where can we find your work? [music tutorials, originals] [songs] [soundtrack sketches]

 What inspires you to create and how do you keep motivated when things get tough?
Two things inspire me to create the most: seeing other people create, and the urge to express something I have trouble expressing in everyday conversation. In terms of making music, I think it's easier than ever to record your stuff and put it out there for people to hear so I don't feel like we really have it "tough," at least not in terms of fairness. But even if disheartening or creatively stifling moments come in other ways, I remember that the act of making music itself is the part I enjoy most. Playing and discovering sounds I find beautiful, and then writing, recording, mixing, and hearing it back for the first time is a feeling of satisfaction that no number of downloads nor number of zeroes on a paycheck could ever touch.

What do you think is more important content/finished product or technique/process?
As you can probably gather from the above, the process is pretty much what it's all about for me. The finished product is the overflow of the work, not the work itself. I believe the more you make music, the more songs will get finished. In the same way, I didn't set out to write an album, but I have confidence that the album will find itself finished or pretty close to finished when I have made enough music. This is the mindset I have adopted because, for me, I have a tendency to start worrying about what others will think of it before it's appropriate. Endlessly criticizing your own work in the early stages creating it is just going to doom the whole thing. And before you know it, nothing ever gets done.

Who are some people who influence and/or inspire you?A close friend of mine decided he would pursue a creative life when there was no one else around him encouraging him to do so. He worked really, really hard and in a short amount of time, his brand became one of the top names in a niche he created for himself. His brand, Yours Truly, now works with and is sought after by many major music publications like Pitchfork, Gorilla vs. Bear, Fader, and more.

If you could be any fictional character who would you be?An Ent from the Lord Of the Rings/The Silmarillion. They are the oldest and wisest creatures; they know and they've seen everything worth knowing.

When do you get your best ideas? It probably sounds like I am evading the question, but honestly the answer is: anywhere and everywhere. Something will strike me while I'm driving or in them middle of a guitar lesson. A fair bit of it happens simply when I'm experimenting and being intentional about making music. I'm never too far away from my iPhone, and the Voice Memo app is amazing for quickly capturing an idea I am feeling but can't work on until later. They say the best camera is the one you have with you.

What materials/tools do you use most to create your work?
My iPhone's Voice Memo app, my MacBook Pro, my cheap russian Oktava MK-012 small condenser microphones, my Apogee Duet (audio interface), my guitars, random pianos I find, Ableton Live, and great drum samples. But without lots and lots of time to experiment, the best equipment in the world would rarely do me any good.

Are you self taught or formally educated? How do you think that has influenced or affected your work?
Both. I received formal music theory and ear-training as well as vocal training throughout my youth, but when it came to the guitar, songwriting, and music production, I am self-taught. I believe that this hybrid musical history of mine has helped inform how I approach my work in the sense that I am both cerebral and visceral about it. While it's a romantic notion, I don't think all great music is strictly from the heart. I believe artistic genius comes in many forms, and sometimes it's found in tons of revision, theory, and experience as well as emotion and intuition.

What would your creative work taste like?
Bittersweet chocolate. Perhaps it took you somewhere else when you ate it, and you wanted to stay there.

When you are not creating what do you like to do?
I am a super fan of a few TV shows. I currently follow Mad Men, Game Of Thrones, and Fringe (I was elated when Fox renewed it for a fifth and final season!). I love finding new places to eat. I surround myself with people who, in some ways, know me better than I know myself.

How did you learn to access your creative talents and gain the confidence to put it out there for everyone to experience?
This may be a surprise for those who only know me through my work on YouTube, but I have always been a shy musician. For a long time I was really afraid of failure and super insecure, and it took me a long time to realize that close friends couldn't all be wrong about the giftedness they saw in me. Through years of poking and prodding, I found that my posture of false modesty was only about protecting myself, and that to be true to the passion I had within to make music and share my love of it with others, I had to just put it out there and deal with the negativity as I went. I hold my work to a very high standard, and I like to think that this quality has helped me earn the loyalty of people who follow my work. But in all honesty, it does make criticism harder to deal with, and for that, I've learned that a good dose of humility is necessary if I want to do the best work I can do.

What advice would you give others just beginning their creative adventures? 
Do it, don't over-think it. No amount of school or advice, no magical combination of circumstance or opportunity, nor any amount of inspiration will sustain your creativity for the long haul. Commit to the work, and trust that your commitment to it will be rewarding in and of itself. Surround yourself with people who encourage you to stay on the path. You will recognize the finished product when it comes.

1 comment:

  1. Call this a Warren Lain review if you like. I suppose it's a kind of thank you for his patience.

    You might have found Warren on You Tube and thought his work was arrestingly beautiful. Shortly after that, you might wake up on a Thursday morning to a Skype lesson with Warren and some oatmeal. You might think you'll finally learn something you really need to know, something you can't really articulate. You have no idea.

    I came to music recently and started writing almost immediately. I was not prepared for how much it ended up mattering to me. It has changed everything. Everything. Not only does music have the ability to change your life, Warren is its personification, at least for the time you work with him. You won't be the same once you sign up. You'd better be ready to let go and go on. And it's likely that it won't be easy. Because change is a wild horse. (and also Warren is not going to back off and let you get away with anything). If you can get on that horse, it's gonna try to buck you off. So be prepared for dust and thumps and the moment of complete exhilaration when the bucking turns to a flat out gallop. That is, if you have your seat. Visions and revisions are going to be your new best friends. Warren might or might not notice any of this drama. He's got his eye and his ears on the prize.