I’m going to start this one with a disclaimer. I am not a producer, and though I do write my own songs, I am not able to produce my own music entirely alone. I’ve put long hours into learning production software and techniques and have made some kick ass Britney Spears remixes but occasionally my inability to grasp the difference between squarewaves and…other kinds of waves…leaves me with the daunting task of finding and convincing people who acutally know what they’re doing to produce music with me. I usually meet these people at parties or slide into their Twitter DMs. Sometimes, though, a third party throws me into a session with someone I’ve never heard of or met; basically being set up on working form of a blind date.
I usually hate these situations, so I always find myself furiously texting someone to join us and alleviate the two hours of extreme awkwardness. However, once in a blue moon, I’ll actually end up bonding with this stranger and achieving those beautiful moments of synchronicity that was the original goal for all of it.
First of all, just like getting ready on a first date, you really have to prepare for a long music session with a complete stranger. Normally, I spend like an hour figuring out what kind of song I’m hoping to make or picking out songs of my own to share with them. This is a painstaking process similar to figuring out what to wear on a date and t's actually even more annoying to figure out what to wear to these sessions. (I always end up in sweatpants)
Meeting a new producer or artist is the same as meeting any other stranger you’re about to spend hours alone in a room with: nerve-racking as fuck! Do I shake their hand or do I go right in for the hug?
And then my internal dialogue kicks in; Are they trying to figure out my vibe? What IS my vibe? When I inevitably end up taking my shoes off, are they going to stare at my toes? (The answer is always yes. They are absolutely going to stare at my toes, because my toes are disgusting)
Once all of that’s been established, it's time for introductions. You never know whether the person you’re working with knows anything about you. Naturally, I’ve already Googled them twelve times and know everything about them, thier dog, even thier extended family. However, like I said, they usually know absolutely nothing about me or my music. I usually end up trying to summarize my “deal” while privately agonizing over whether I’m talking about myself too much. (The answer, again, is always yes. Yes, I am talking way too much about myself)
Upon meeting me, any perceptive person will immediately notice that I’m really insecure about everything I think, say, and create. One of my greatest insecurities is my voice, which sounds different every day and is extremely unreliable when it comes to singing. Some producers are sensitive to this, but most of them expect me to behave like any other respectable songwriter in Los Angeles. I'm thrown into situations where the person immediately expects me to know exactly what I want to sing and being entirely confident that I'm cool singing it in front of them. This is my actual nightmare.
Honestly, I’m even too timid to sing in the shower because I’m afraid my dog might hear me. The emotional toll of singing gibberish (or even worse, lyrics I’ve written) in front of a complete stranger is so great that I’ve actually burst into tears trying to do it, which is also embarrassingly reminiscent of my behavior on a blind date. It takes a certain kind of person to handle my crippling self-doubt in any circumstance, let alone my ART, and that kind of person is scarce. The worst part is that in the midst of all this creative anxiety, there’s still the distress of what food to order and at what point it’s appropriate to start getting drunk.
Perhaps the most striking parallel to a blind date is the proverbial 'Morning After.' If the session doesn’t end with me frantically escaping in an Uber, there’s always the question of what comes next for us. When I leave happy with the overall session, it leaves me freaking out wondering if the producer was equally as happy.
And then my internal dialogue kicks in again; Will they want to work with me again? Will they start a band with me? I really want to be in a band. And if I wasn’t happy with the session, how do I break it to them? Do I let my manager deal with it? Will they email me relentlessly about the song they want me to record? Will they unfollow me on Twitter? And worst of all, are they going to tell everyone about the ugly-toed girl who was too scared to sing? I know they’re going to, and it’s too much. It’s really too much.
So yeah. The anxiety (and I guess for some people, excitement) of working with someone new is pretty much exactly the same as being set up on a blind date. It’s awkward, it can go REALLY badly or maybe there’s always the possibility that you’ll end up in a really tight relationship. I’d give it like a 10% chance of success based on experience. Personally, I don’t really fuck with those odds, and that’s why I’ve only been on one blind date in my life and why lihalf of my songs were produced by people I already live with.