On Failure

The following is an extract from my article for Essential Journal. Read it in full here.

There’s no feeling quite like the one of being backstage, knowing that you’ll soon be in front of a room full of people who are there to hear you sing your songs. You feel the adrenaline and butterflies coursing through you, you’re bouncing around with an unrelenting energy; you’re excited and petrified that you might forget your words. The same words you’ve written and rehearsed a million times over. You feed off the energy in the room, the muffled sound of the crowd growing bigger, getting closer. It’s claustrophobic. It’s exhilarating. You feel like a rockstar. Partly because, well, you are one.

The band—or rather, the group of individually brilliant solo musicians—and I had been rehearsing, recording, rehearsing and re-recording for a couple months’ in build-up to the gig. In addition to this, my guitarist and I were doing acoustic sets around the city to keep our sound fresh. Having a five-piece group-of-individually-brilliant-solo-musicians is quite an expensive thing to upkeep. As I was the ‘billed artist’, sans label, I was paying for the rehearsal space, studio time, their individual fees, as well as project managing the whole thing. But it was entirely worth it as soon as we stepped on stage and the crowd began shifting in their seats to see us a little better. The rise and fall of the room continually rising, people beginning to groove and to drink, singing themselves into merriment that stretches into the early hours of the morning. You’ve utterly charmed them, they’re hanging on to your every word. You crescendo into folklore (or so it feels in that moment) and the night ends, and into the cool air everyone hazily disperses. You’ve done it. Everything you’ve ever dreamed of.

Now imagine, playing the exact same set - perhaps an even tighter, more refined version which you knew would absolutely kill  - a few weeks later, in a dingy basement club to all of ten people. The outgoings were the same: band, rehearsal space, time. But with only a handful of tickets sold; we didn’t get enough people through the door to take a cut of the ticket sales. For a set that we absolutely loved playing, we found ourselves trying to get through it as quickly as possible. The drunk woman that heckled me mid-set for coming across too cocky, telling me in no uncertain terms that I wasn’t that great, didn’t help much. The band were forlorn, as if they’d just been suckerpunched in the first round of the biggest fight of their lives. And it was all my fault. 

Read On Failure.