Mind your headspace

Professional creative writers, artists and musicians have a problem. Their own feelings are the backbones upon which their industry is supported. They’re emotional salesmen. Now they’re faced with a critical decision, and one that will inform their lifelong body of work: to simply entertain, or to go deeper and actually make a change to their culture.

To entertain means to find those feelings that will resonate with their audience’s demand for fact. Entertainment follows a fairly well-established playbook. Leave the audience feeling that they’re better off for having witnessed it. Leave them inspired by a picture of a better person, or relieved that their circumstances are better than those of the characters they’ve witnessed. Give them the opportunity to ignore reality for a while. They’ve earned it, and will pay for it. Entertainment is a comforting, stabilizing force. It’s a reinforcement of existing behavior.

To make a change, however, means to challenge this comfort. It requires the audience to suspend their own apathy and be vulnerable. But why would anyone volunteer to be exposed to harsh realities?

I’ve been on the receiving end of large sums of money, given to me in order to entertain. But after 20 years of writing and performing, my audience is still very small. This is because I have found a reason to expose myself to the unsettling truth of the matter.

It’s why we’re here. To grow as people. To make a habit of leaving the comfort zone. To hunt down substance. The “play next” button will not satisfy you.

Rather than to just entertain, I aim to make a change. This is what it looks like. If you’ve found your way to these words, you’ve encountered something truly rare. You’ve discovered my perseverance, despite a constant abundance of opportunities to create work of less substance.

The change I aim to make is to create and enable more meaningful interaction between people about things that matter. This takes the form of challenging, often thought-provoking and socially conscious song lyrics. It takes a cautious view of technology. We need to rely more on nature and less on economic growth. We need to take responsibility for our headspaces.

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