I woke up sick as a dog this morning, and had the following message waiting for me in my inbox…
“so, here I go finally…
“I’ll be honest with you: I didn’t like your solo material and I believe it has nothing to do with me being narrow-minded (at least I wouldn’t describe myself like this)…
“what I hear is a professionally recorded and produced material without soul. please don’t get me wrong (I might be wrong and this won’t be the first time) but I got the impression that you wanted to please everyone… the sound is right, the words are right, but the magic is just not happening…
“one expression comes to my mind: comfort zone
“hope you don’t get this wrong! (and who am I to judge anyway?) talk later, take care…”
To which I responded…
You are literally the only person who has told me that they didn’t like *any* of my solo material out of the nearly 300 people with whom I’ve been corresponding over the past two months.
I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting for someone to get back to me with a negative review. My thought is that others may feel the same as you, but are too “nice” and don’t want to hurt my feelings or something.
Do I think you’re wrong?? Hell no. The truth about my music is that whatever it is to you, it is to YOU. I tell people all the time: music is like wine — if you like it, it’s good. You just don’t prefer this bottle of wine, and that’s cool.
As far as the material being professionally recorded and produced, you’re damn right: I performed 99% of the parts, and engineered and recorded the album myself. I paid thousands of dollars for a major-label mixer to mix the tunes, and they’ll be mastered by the guy who did Nirvana’s “Nevermind”. So, yeah, it’s gonna be professionally produced, as will any music I release publicly.
Pleasing everyone? You’re right again. I’m a people-pleaser, but I’ve been training myself to follow my instincts more and not worry as much about what others think.
Regarding soul, I have to agree with you, in part; I believe my vocal performances could have been better in many respects. I’ve been getting lots of great feedback about my voice, but there have been some folks who like the music and say that they felt my vocal was a little hesitant.
Plus, the songs aren’t mastered yet, so it’s tough to assess their overall impact. I’m confident that some additional mojo will rise out of the work once it is truly finished.
“Comfort zone”? That one perplexes me because, frankly, these were some of the most uncomfortable songs I’ve ever recorded…
My experiences making music up until recently were completely informed by rock and roll of some type (punk, metal, etc.). The thing is, I’m interested in, and informed and shaped by, many many different genres. My songwriting is all over the place. Rather than viewing my album as simply a collection of different songs that say “Look what I can do!”, I see it as a representation of my musical diversity. I have a large palette of colors, and I enjoy painting with all of them.
And lyrically speaking, these songs have some of the most honest, deep, and personal content I’ve ever written. It’s about my life and the people I’ve known and been connected to. Just putting the words on paper took a certain amount of courage; to sing them into a microphone, more; and to give them away in an unfinished state for people to criticize, the most.
I really appreciate you getting back to me with a negative review. I know that everyone isn’t going to like my music, and I’m fine with that. I just want to know why.
If you’re interested in hearing my album to judge for yourself, send your email address to [blog] [at] [therealjohnkay] [dot][com] and I will hook you up.
P.S. These songs were all recorded in 2012, and since then I have made a point to really focus on my vocal performance and let my “true voice” come through. A better example of where I’m at now is my most recent song, “No More”.