March 02, 2015 / AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT
March 02, 2015
Standing out in a crowd isn’t always easy. But it comes with big rewards for the passionate. Society tends to pressures people and businesses to be the same, that blending-in is better. Though acculturating may bring success day-to-day, for businesses to stay relevant they must be interesting—standing out gets noticed but it’s true passion that sustains.
LET YOUR PASSION SPEAK FOR ITSELF
In a genre that has seen decades of ingenuity, saturation and movement away from the techniques and styles that defined generations, I had the opportunity to experience inventiveness and an alternate route through the dissection of music. The stage for the Renegades of Rhythm tour consisted of a platform with six turntables, a cardboard cutout of New York City’s skyline and two boxes of records patiently waiting their turn. Two turntablists emerged on the stage and introduced themselves as DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist. For the next two hours, they went on to spin a narrative of the genre-defining influences, artistry, and social charge of the legendary hip hop icon Afrika Bambaataa. It was a two-hour sound documentary that left me inspired and connected to the turntablists as musical scientists, artists and historians.
DESIGN THE ALTERNATE ROUTE
This unique experience influenced a few questions: How can music be innovative? And, what hasn’t been done? With the emergence of technology, music has evolved over the past few decades and continues to evolve every day. Through this evolution, musicians are challenged and encouraged to think creatively to pave new roads by exploring unique sounds, techniques and styles. Music can be seen as an accelerated microcosm of brands in other industries. The qualities of music that have defined great artists of the past and present can be translated across any field. They’ve set themselves apart and proven their authenticity through a passion for their craft. It may seem like an impossible task to create something new when it appears everything great has already been accomplished, but an alternate route is reserved for the bold, built on a foundation of uncertainty. This is the work of true innovators like DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist.
PASSION IS ADDICTIVE. DIG DEEP.
DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist are examples of artists and innovators who are fueled by a passion to share something they love with the world. They practice their craft because they believe in it—and through their efforts they find unique compositions and sounds. Known in the DJ world as “crate diggers”, they’ve spent countless hours scouring thousands of old and new records all over the world in search of unique sounds and beats—details that could easily be missed but are religiously chronicled in their minds. The majority of DJs rely heavily on computers and special effects to mix one song into another, whereas more skilled turntablists incorporate learned techniques such as scratching, blending and beat juggling to combine or separate samples of songs that create unique compositions. Whether it’s creating a new product, service or sound, passion leads to innovation, so dig deep because passion can’t be created, it comes from within. True passion is recognized and appreciated if you can find and share it with the world.
REDEFINE YOURSELF WITH LESS
This particular show resonated because it set itself apart from modern music. These two DJs have taken their music back to basics. No play buttons connected to advanced computers and devices were on the stage—they simply played vinyl records on turntables attached to a mixer. The pair performed a meticulously mapped out story from Bambaataa’s records that explored the history of hip hop through the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s to current-day hip hop through the lens of Afrika Bambaataa himself. They explored what defined Bambaataa as an artist, the influences of other music on his creations, and Bambaataa’s influences on hip-hop as a genre as well as an entire generation. This pair is able to weave a seamless narrative without any stops from beginning to end in the most scientific way I have ever heard music being played. Systematic in its preparation, impromptu in its styling, yet staying the course to chronicle an icon in hip hop history—familiar, yet new, all at the same time. Can you pull from your industry’s own history and make it fresh, new and relevant? Is there room to innovate from a set of established norms? Have the confidence to stand apart from the crowd and be different. People remember compelling brands.
GO BACK TO GO FORWARD
Sometimes we must break through what we know in order to move forward. DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist’s tour captivates with ingenuity and intrigue. They’ve forged the alternate route to pay homage to the past and offer something new that will influence the next generation. They’ve broken down music to its original components, only to build the pieces back up to create new and brilliant masterpieces. In business like in music, all brands eventually arrive at a crossroads. Changing times force brands to rethink how they can stand out in the crowded market. How do you innovate and redefine who you are to captivate new audiences? This task may seem impossible because of a lack of funding, resources, ideas, or technology. But inside special brands lie a burning passion for their craft and courage to stand apart. Use these passionate artists who redefined storytelling through sound as inspiration to go back in order to go forward. Be bold. Be courageous. Anything is possible.