I love working with people. I’m lucky enough to live in a town full of amazingly talented musicians, but even if you live in a not-so-musiciany town, you can get a lot out of collaborating. Here are the top 5 things that fire me up about collaborations:
1. Healthy competition.
Something about having two creative minds in a room breeds just the right amount of competitive drive (at least in my experience). While competition has its downsides, there’s a lot of good that can come from friendly rivalry. Paul McCartney once said about long time friend and fellow Beatles member John Lennon, “I like that (we were competitive). People sometimes see it as an arch rivalry. It wasn’t. It was a friendly competition that was actually very necessary”.
2. Creative energy.
Everyone struggles to figure out what to play next sometimes. When there’s another person in the room to help you, it’s amazing how electrifying it can be.
I recently played a session with a bassist who I love in town. We started jamming, and kept feeding off of the creative input from the other person. We paused between songs and I realized I was hungry- I checked the time, and we’d been jamming for four hours with no breaks. When the chemistry is right, creativity flows so much better with two instead of one.
3. Someone to challenge you.
A few months ago I did a session with a friend in town. We spent about 6 hours together working on some tracks for a country artist. My friend sat in the producer’s chair and prodded me for all 6 hours to come up with keyboard parts, gently pushing my playing in directions I could never have thought of on my own. At the end of the day it was some of the best work I’ve ever done as keyboardist.
Most of the people you work with won’t have your creative vision, which is a great thing. Having someone challenge you to think outside of your comfort zone helps make you grow in ways not possible by yourself.
4. Additional filtering.
It’s easy to get punch drunk in a session or gig and lose perspective on if you’re still on top of your musical game. Having an outside voice who’s willing to be honest with you can make a world of difference.
5. Long term friendships.
The best thing about having musical cohorts is the friendships that build over time. After just two years in Nashville, I already many of my musical friends in town to be my closest friends, and we regularly hang out at each other’s houses and support each other’s creative endeavors. No matter where you are, you can build a community of artists if you put a little work into it. The rewards are just to great to not invest the time and energy!