In November we announced our new round of Individual Arts Partnership and Jade Presents Arts Partnership grantees, and as always, it’s a fantastic group of talented artists from all forms of media. We like to take a moment each month to highlight one of our grantees, and this week’s feature is on local rock band The Knotties!
The Knotties has been on a collective musical journey for over two years. The band’s performances are “explosive,” according to their Facebook page, and strive to create authentic, genuine connections with their audiences through their original rock and blues-infused music. Group members include Channing Minnema (guitar and lead vocals), Michael Mooridian (bass and vocals) and Jon Hunter (drums and vocals).
The Knotties received a $2,400 Jade Presents Arts Partnership grant to master a new full-length album, which will be released on February 16 at the Aquarium!
Here are some questions we asked the group about their creative process:
1. Beyond other musicians, what sources inspire your work?
We are an eclectic band that listens to a wide range of sounds, from funk to hip hop to classical. All we strive for is to create something that feels authentic and that people connect to. It just so happens to come out in the form of blues rock more often than not.
Beyond other musicians, our melodic and lyrical content is driven strongly by our personal and emotional experiences. All of our music is an expression of a specific experience that one or all of us have had. Oftentimes it’s an expression of a combination of experiences. But all of it relates back directly to our pasts.
2. What is your daily creative work schedule?
Our schedule is a chaotic one—if you can call it a schedule. But that’s part of why we work so well together. We are all open to spontaneous adventure (and misadventure). Half the time when we get together, there’s nothing creative about it; we just enjoy each others’ company. But when we do sit down and get to work, it’s a very quick, spontaneous, productive process. Songs form quickly.
3. How do you approach the beginning of a project?
Often, one of us will approach the band with a partial idea. It might be as simple as a single riff or chord progression, or it might be the loose structure of an entire song. But it’s never a complete, fully formed idea. It’s a blueprint upon which the others can always build. That’s part of what gives us a unique and varied sound.
4. What is your greatest fear or challenge when facing a new project?
We haven’t found anything in the creative process that we are afraid of—at least not explicitly. As for our greatest challenge—we want to create something that moves people. At the end of the night, we want people to feel like they are in a different space emotionally, mentally, and physically than when it all began. It’s not easy to create that experience…and then to recreate it again and again.
5. What do you do when you get stuck?
We ask each other if they have any ideas. We never work in a vacuum because we always collaborate with one another, and so we never really feel stuck.
6. How does having a community of artists benefit your work?
Nearly every one of our great opportunities has come to us through a close friend, a fellow artist, or a distant acquaintance who respected our work. We are grateful for this support, and we hope we do enough to give it back.
7. What advice would you give to someone starting out in the field?
To simply find your own path. When you walk along a path that’s already been walked, it’s easier…but everything you discover or encounter has already been seen before. Walking your own path is much tougher…but that’s where you find the most rewarding or original experiences and ideas.
8. If you had a chance to do it all over again, how would you do things differently?
We have learned a lot about the business side of things—how to market ourselves, how to make things financially viable. Those lessons would have been valuable on day one.
9. What is the one question you have never been asked regarding your creative process?
“How important is humility to the creative process?” Answer: Very. We need to be confident enough to take the stage and share our original songs with people without fear of rejection. But, more importantly, we must be humble enough to hear ideas and feedback from one another. Ego stifles creativity.
10. What was the most discouraging feedback you’ve ever received?
Cynicism about the viability of making art a career (or part of your career) can be discouraging. Many people see art as having little “real” value. But even if we can’t survive off of it, that isn’t really what it’s about. It’s about having the tools to explore ideas and emotions and experiences that we couldn’t explore otherwise and giving others the tools to do the same.
11. What was the most encouraging feedback you’ve ever received?
That we created an authentic and memorable experience when someone wasn’t looking or even open to having one. That we changed the course of their evening, or day, or week.
12. What would you be if you couldn’t be an artist?
Just a different type of artist. No world exists in which we aren’t creating in some capacity or another.
Be on the lookout for more information about The Knotties’ album release in February!
All photos are courtesy of The Knotties.