The Arts Partnership awards grants to artists working in any artistic genre and at any career stage, and earlier this fall, we announced our 2017-2018 Individual Arts Partnership (IAP) grantees. Over the next year, TAP will highlight the artists in a series of blogs so that our readers can learn more about their artistic process, and next up is musician Brian Carmona!
Brian Carmona is a songwriter and producer. His work has been featured on television and YouTube shows: in 2015, Recover was featured on the hit MTV show Teen Wolf, the cover of Everybody Wants to Rule the World was on the YouTube show Daily V and most recently MTV’s Teen Mom. Originally from Los Angeles, Carmona lived and worked in Nashville until moving to Fargo.
1. Beyond other Dream Pop artist, what sources inspire your work?
I am a very visual/emotional type of person and that spills over into my work. Music doesn’t really inspire me as much as film and visuals do. I really love John Hughes and the influence he had on pop culture in the 80’s. He created a personal connection with anyone who watched his films and I try to implement that factor into the music I make. I also love Andy Warhol. Why? Because it’s Andy Warhol.
2. What is your daily creative work schedule?
I learned very early on that inspiration comes by just living life. The times I’ve tried to create a moment or force inspiration has always led me nowhere. There is always some sort of idea, melody or song structure going on in my head. I have about a million voice notes on my phone of ideas that come to my head. I come back around to those when in the recorded process. I feel seasoned enough to know where my strengths are and how to pull a song or idea in that direction.
3. How do you approach the beginning of a project?
I try to have a clear vision for what I want to accomplish and say. I don’t like to start something just for the sake of starting something. I have to set musical deadlines for myself or else I will continue to obsess over a particular song or sound to the point where if I don’t set a deadline it would never come out. I will spend about a couple days before the writing process watching some sort of John Hughes movie to.
4. What is your greatest fear/challenge when facing a new project?
For a long time I would fear criticism. It would stop me from starting a new project because I hated the idea that I could not please everyone. Coming from a city like Los Angeles I grew up with thick skin and a lot of people who were not afraid to be honest with you. I had a lot of people tell me early on that my songs were crap, I didn’t have a good voice so that forced the competitive nature in me to prove people wrong. Fear is no longer crippling for me, because once you know art is subjective you have nothing to stop you from being you.
5. What do you do when you get stuck?
I feel like I’ve lived on the island of “stuck” for the majority of my career and I’ll visit the city of inspiration every so often. I try to record everything honestly. I am sure I can find a voice note where I am somewhere like a restaurant and I am whispering a bass grove. When you’re chasing a dream, or wanting your hobby to become your career, there is no clocking in and clocking out. I don’t wake up and say “It’s 9am, time to be a songwriter!” I feel if you really care about your art, it’s an obsession that never fades away.
6. How does having a community of artists benefit your work?
I think we can all benefit from community. The support of other people along the same journey is important. A movement does move forward on one person alone; it moves with a community of radicals who are crazy enough to think they can make a change.
7. What advice would you give to someone starting out in the field?
Do the work. If you’re a songwriter, put you yourself in the chair and just write. Be obsessed with your work. Be patient. Reach out to someone you admire and ask questions, you would be surprised how many people are willing to help you. Lastly, all it takes is one great “yes” which turns into an opportunity to change your life.
8. If you had a chance to do it all over again, how would you do things differently?
I would have asked a lot more questions early on. I would have found a mentor and taken the time to learn from someone I admired.
9. What is the one question you have never been asked regarding your creative process?
“What’s it like trying to find time to make music with a wife and two kids?”
10. What was the most discouraging feedback you ever got?
11. What was the most encouraging feedback you ever got?
“MTV is going to use your song ‘Recover’ for their show ‘Teen Wolf.'”
12. What would you be if you couldn’t be an artist?
Thanks, Brian! We’re excited to see where your music career takes you!