Greg Best Music

Producer. Music Director. Session Drummer.

The Wall

It happens to all of us. It happens by surprise. It happens when we are making progress. It happens when we are nearing the end of a process. The wall. A barrier that prevents us from continuing. It's too high to climb, though you can see the top and it taunts you. It's too strong to break through but you know there's got to be a weakness somewhere. It's just so gigantic that you can't find it anywhere. It's taking weeks to walk alongside it as you strike it with your strongest swings with your best sledgehammer, but you just can't find that weak spot.

I struck wall #1 two weeks ago. In classic fashion, it happened in the middle of one of the best writing and mixing streaks I've had in months. The board on my MacBook Pro failed. Everything is intact, it just won't power on anymore. Apple has deemed it a "vintage" machine and getting replacement parts is nearly impossible and not even close to worth it, so I had to buy a new one. Thankfully I have a father who is willing to help in times where we don't have the funds for such expensive gear. (Cheers, dad!) The new machine is incredible, but I've not had a chance to even work with it yet since we are also in the middle of a move... wall #2. 

Like our new MacBook Pro, our new place is amazing. It feels good to be in a new and inspiring space, but the chore of unpacking and setting up certainly has its difficulties and it always takes longer than we anticipate. I've come to realize that life seems to operate that way -- things will always take a while, so we might as well enjoy it. 

Here's how I'm enjoying life right now: I'm decorating those walls with memories. I'm allowing those barriers to build up our life than rather than seeing them as a blockade. I am using the time I now have to contemplate all the good that's happened. I am spending more time with Kim in more meaningful ways. We are enjoying unpacking and setting up the new place together. I am not busy-minded and stuck in the mixes and songs; I am humming new melodies. I'm letting life happen. It's singing to us. It's taking colorful snapshots of us and the moments we share. These walls will serve us well. These walls don't need to be torn down. They are now a beautiful surface to marvel at. Maybe they're building something much better that we just can't see.

 

Progress

We're snowed in because of a giant nor'easter today, so I am mixing my record. Wow. It feels crazy to say that!

This is my first real record as a solo artist and I am excited to share it with you all. I definitely recommend checking out my Instagram story as you'll be able to see and hear my process there. Who knows... maybe I'll even do a live feed one of these days!

I am feeling good about my writing and mixing. It feels crazy to say that too! I am genuinely getting into the swing of things and I'm enjoying myself. It's been a long time coming.

My process is still slow, but I'm okay with that. I am not worried about "finishing on time." I know it's all taking shape in the timing it needs. The last few weeks have been taking me on a more positive journey as I embrace myself for who I truly am; both as an artist and as a human being.

As you know, I'm focused on writing this record to benefit mental health. I am writing it to heal from my own emotional damage. I am writing it to hopefully help you heal if you need it. It's a heavy-hearted record but it's also filled with hope. While it may not be happy, it is in some way joyful. It's also enlaced with gratitude. Even in the anger, sadness, depression, anxiety, fear, failure, and doubt; you'll hear a message of a human being facing challenges, accepting them, growing, overcoming, and most of all -- changing for the better.

That's been my journey. That's what you'll hear. I'm getting ready for one of the most special musical moments of my life. I hope you're starting to feel the excitement too.

We Need Art

I don't know where I am as an artist most of the time. This is the journey of art: self-discovery. Art frees us from systemic confines, both in culture and deep within ourselves. I write music because it gives me a sense of what's happening within me and the world around me.

We artists don't know how we got to be this way. It's a gift. Sometimes it feels like a curse. It's strange how I can feel so capable when I am writing and arranging music, yet can't be okay having the most common of conversations. It's frustrating that I understand, feel, and play complex rhythmic and melodic parts in all kinds of meters, tempi, and key changes, but somehow struggle to understand something as basic as algebra. I often ask myself, "What the hell is wrong with my brain?"

I think in terms many people don't understand, and oftentimes probably won't ever understand. I don't mean this in a way that puts others down. It's just like how I may not ever understand certain mathematical formulas or business tactics. My brain just doesn't seem to go in that direction, and I can't make it do so. Even after years of schooling in both the areas I just mentioned, I somehow always failed the tests, and couldn't keep those constructs together, but I kept trying.

Art is something that happens to and through me. Every time I have tried to articulate this to people who are more "left-brained" or "logically-minded," I often regret beginning the conversation. Once again, not because those people are incapable of understanding, more so because I cannot get my thoughts out in a way that can be grasped logically. This is why I write music instead. It speaks for itself, though the journey of taking it in and allowing it to speak can be a long, challenging one for many.

For most of my life, I've struggled to communicate. But when I've got an instrument in my hand or a mic in front of my mouth, all the messages I need to send effortlessly vibrate through the strings, the drums, the cymbals, my vocal chords. I am not sure where some of it is taking even me, but I go along for the journey anyway because I ultimately know I need it. 

If we're not musicians or artists, we still need the arts. We need the music in our ears, whether we "get it" or not. We need the challenge. We need the painting that makes us question. We need the poetry that somehow causes pause and reflection. We need it all. Pay attention to some art this week. Even if it's for one minute. Do your soul some good.

Writing.

This week I began to get some ideas out for my first full length. People often ask me about my writing process and I thought it would be fun to let you into that part of my world.

It's not always the same. Sometimes I am in the middle of doing the most ordinary task and then... it happens. I hear it. I immediately pull up Voice Memos on my iPhone and sing whatever it is. Sometimes I pull out my phone again several times and record 5 minutes worth of ideas and composition development. Other times, I save it and don't listen to it for months. It'll just be a 5 to 10 second idea that I don't want to hear again until I feel it's time.

Melodies come to me in dreams as well. This is more rare but it certainly does happen to me enough to pay attention to. Sometimes I hear a piece playing while I wake up or other times I remember bits and pieces of the melody I heard someone sing to me in my dream. Either way, these are special, delightful moments that I do not take for granted. I feel as if I cannot take credit for what I "create" during these musings, because I simply heard it.

I wrote a great deal of lyrics for this album and now I am tracking myself singing before anything else. In some cases, I am walking up to the mic and singing the melody that comes out in whatever key is comfortable for my voice, even if the key changes in different sections. I record the instrumental parts I hear around this. I am simply allowing the vocal parts to exist in my natural phrasing. I want my vocal parts to emote like speech, similar to recitative

Here's an example of what could happen: Say 100 BPM in 4/4 feels like a good fit for the feel of my vocal idea.  If my phrasing for even one bar out in the entire song is in any other meter, I am keeping it because it felt right. This of course doesn't mean that every song will have this kind of phrasing. I just think there are certain lyrics or sections of lyrics that need this kind of approach to maintain emotional poetic integrity.

This is one glance into the world I am getting myself into for this record. I'll talk about other processes in the progress. Cheers.

New Music in 2017

I am not one to believe that a new year is a magical means to an end. I am also not one for new year's resolutions and such. I just happen to find myself nearing the end of a difficult journey right now and it just happens to be at the end of 2016. 

I have set some goals for the upcoming year that are going to be good for me. I am writing a record. It's got material from the depths of my soul, most of it dark and existential. I've wanted to do a record like this for a long time but I was terrified -- mainly of what others will think and how they'll respond when I release this work.

I recently talked with Kim about the record and why it hadn't all come out this year. "I didn't suffer enough," I said. "I needed to go through more before I could compose it."

This record will be about deconstructing everything I've known to be some sort of security: family, friendships, even music itself. I am looking forward to sharing it with you. When you hear my music, you get a fuller picture of who I really am. I'm not afraid of this anymore. I'm ready to be exposed. Cheers.