"Joni Mitchell once said that singing, crying, and laughing all come up out of the same need. So, I think that's what art is for..." -- Erykah Badu
A certain array of life questions are essential to one's own personal growth and development: who am I? Where am I going? What do I want to be when I grow up? None of these queries are particularly easy to ascertain, because the answers almost always prove to be in a constant state of evolution. Attitudes can range from "I am somebody" to "I don't give a fuck," or the infinite number of possibilities in between.
For many people, the journey towards answering these essential life questions revolves around music. Something as simple as a sound wave making contact with an eardrum becomes almost as important as the air you breathe and the earth you walk on.
That relationship is the focus of the feature film entitled What Difference Does It Make? A Film About Making Music, which premiered Monday in 65 cities worldwide, including Houston. Presented by the energy drink/entertainment company Red Bull, the documentary was filmed during the 2013 Red Bull Music Academy in New York City, which itself is described as an annual "world-travelling series of music workshops and festivals: a platform for those who make a difference in today's musical landscape."
Prior to the film, a Q&A session led by veteran music promoter Matt Sonzala took place, featuring DJ/producer Mannie Fresh (Cash Money Records) and the Trill OG himself, Bun B of UGK. Invited guests included a talented pool of H-Town's most talented musicians, rappers, singers, DJs and producers. Attendees included rappers Fat Tony and B L A C K I E, singer Asli Omar (The Tontons), musician Lucas Gorham (Grandfather Child), and DJ Fishr Pryce and DJ Navo, among many others.
The two hip-hop legends were asked about their early influences and motivations to pursue music, and provided advice for achieving success through music. Here are a few key thoughts pulled from the session:
"All music is World Music." -- Matt Sonzala
"Success is achieved when you stop worrying about what other people say or do. In the end, it doesn't affect you. Just get up everyday and do what you love! That's success!" -- Mannie Fresh
"Treat music as a culture, not a business. The future is in your hands." -- Bun B
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Mannie and Bun also relayed their past experience from participating as lecturers and workshop leaders at the Red Bull Music Academy, and both expressed how supportive and educational the workshops can be. They also extended the invitation to apply for this year's sessions taking place in Tokyo, Japan. The deadline to apply is March 18th.
After the Q&A, the attendees moved from the Green Room of Warehouse Live to the adjoining Studio, which had been set up as a theater in order to screen the film. The movie itself is a production by the creative agency named MindPirates, a collection of filmmakers, musicians, and designers based in Berlin, Germany. The film's director is the award-winning Ralf Schmerberg, who created a non-traditional, visually stunning, and fascinating look at the world of music and its affect on musical creatives.
Set in New York City -- itself a nonstop sensory overload of colors, sounds and emotions -- the film combined footage of the streets and interviews with both established and aspiring musicians. Explaining how and why music has taken precedence in their lives are musical pioneers Brian Eno, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Giorgio Moroder, Erykah Badu, Rakim, Nile Rodgers, Richie Hawtin and LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy.
The film was intended to be inspirational, a spark to the viewer to begin or reignite his or her personal creative process. Naturally, the participants speak about both the positive and negative aspects of life in the music business, from the danger of drugs and exhaustion to the sheer joy in creating beauty and the inspirational effects your creation may have on others.
The underlying theme, though, was creating for the sake of creation, making music for the love of the music without regard for financial gain. Many of the musicians stressed finding the right personal balance in life, and the need to block outside influences that may attempt to stop you. So what difference does it make?
It makes all the difference.
The film is now available online for stream or download at rbma15.com.
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