Name: Jay Crocker aka Joyfultalk
Occupation: Composer, musician, visual artist
Recent release: Joyfultalk's Familiar Science is out via Constellation.
If you enjoyed this interview with Joyfultalk and would like to find out more, visit his official homepage. He is also on Instagram, Facebook, and twitter.
We also recommend our earlier 15 Questions interview with Joyfultalk which sees him expand on an even wider range of topics.
Where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play?
For me, I find I am able to draw creative impulse from a multitude of different sources and situations. I can find inspiration to be creative in almost everything.
It's training your mind to see things from a different perspective but ultimately I believe that there isn't really anything particularly mythical or magical about creativity. I think at the end of the day it still comes day to hard work, luck, devotion and relentless pursuit to the creative mind set.
This deep work leads to developing a process that enables you to slip in and out of creativity with fluidity.
For you to get started, do there need to be concrete ideas – or what some have called a “visualisation”of the finished work? What does the balance between planning and chance look like for you?
I would say that my process is pretty sculptural. I generally don't start with a plan but more an idea and then a sculpt that idea into something more concrete. Often it ends up a lot different than the original idea. With my art practice I often do one or more prototypes of the basic concept. I'll work on it until I feel as though the piece and the idea are together enough to be able to start forming a plan in which to bring it into a physical form.
With music it's mostly the same but it can be a bit more spontaneous and less planned out. I can approach it from a more abstracted place.
Is there a preparation phase for your process? Do you require your tools to be laid out in a particular way, for example, do you need to do 'research' or create 'early versions'?
I would say I'm not overly particular about needing things to in there right place to be able to get into the right head space to create. I really just spend a lot of time working on things.
I feel like, because of my experience, I can sort of feel when something is working and is ready to move to the next phase. Because of putting so much of my life into being creative, I have a good sense for when I've dialed in on the individual process for a particular piece. When to push and when to hold back.
Do you have certain rituals to get you into the right mindset for creating? What role do certain foods or stimulants like coffee, lighting, scents, exercise or reading poetry play?
Nah not really /// Smoke a little weed (maybe) Pretty much just get to work.
What do you start with? How difficult is that first line of text, the first note?
I just start //// And it sucks /// start again /// and it sucks /// start again /// and it sucks /// start again /// and it sucks /// start again /// and it sucks ....... oooo this might be good ..... nope … /// start again /// and it sucks /// start again /// and it suck s/// start again /// and it sucks ...... I can work with this //
Once you've started, how does the work gradually emerge?
Definitely gradual. I'm also looking for what the process feels like, cuz it changes a little bit all the time.
It is a sculptural process. With my art practice I'll keep looking at the piece from as many different angles and perspectives as I can. Ill keep analyzing my interpretation of the feeling, structure, scale, and mechanics of the piece.
With music I like to do the same sort of thing but I feel like it's more about colour, tone, mood and I keep it more improvised.
Many writers have claimed that as soon as they enter into the process, certain aspects of the narrative are out of their hands. Do you like to keep strict control over the process or is there a sense of following things where they lead you?
I totally agree. Once I hit on the process or the muse the piece starts to create itself. It still might take a long time but at least you know what you're looking for.
Often, while writing, new ideas and alternative roads will open themselves up, pulling and pushing the creator in a different direction. Does this happen to you, too, and how do you deal with it? What do you do with these ideas?
Yep! That is part of my process. That is often what I'm looking for. I try to test a few different options and choose the one that feels the best.
I guess I try not to lose the original idea but other times the original idea gets traded for a better one. The trick is to not be to precious about things and let the energy of your situation dictate some of the choices.
There are many descriptions of the creative state. How would you describe it for you personally? Is there an element of spirituality to what you do?
When deep creative work is happening for me it's like I'm in a dream space. I can remember bits and pieces of the environment around me but mostly I get absorbed in this sort of energy orb. I call it “the acid washed underpants”. No joke … ask Jon Mckiel
Especially in the digital age, the writing and production process tends towards the infinite. What marks the end of the process? How do you finish a work?
Deadlines. I can't work a project that has no end. That wouldn't be fun. I feel the creativity really rips when your slammed and you have to output stuff to pay the bills. No plan B baby.
Once a piece is finished, how important is it for you to let it lie and evaluate it later on? How much improvement and refinement do you personally allow until you're satisfied with a piece? What does this process look like in practise?
I would say that on average I do a moderate amount of tweaking, but it really depends on the piece. Sometimes, things need to be pruned and preened until its as tight as you can get it, other times that approach can lead to something being totally gross and self indulgent.
My artistic practice spans across a lot ground so It really does depend on what I'm working on.
What's your take on the role and importance of production, including mixing and mastering for you personally? How involved do you get in this?
I'm involved in all facets of the production, mixing and mastering. I feel like in this day and age you have to be if you want to have a sustainable career as an independent artist.
I enjoy all the processes of the production though. Its really sculptural. I like the playing part the best though.
After finishing a piece or album and releasing something into the world, there can be a sense of emptiness. Can you relate to this – and how do you return to the state of creativity after experiencing it?
No not really. Usually I have to do the art work, then make the videos, then figure out how to perform it, then tour it. I'll be making installation art in between …
By the time all that work is finished I usually would have something else started or have a good idea of what I want to make next. It's relentless.
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you personally feel as though writing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?
I mean, there is a performative aspect of music making that I don't do while I'm making a coffee or getting groceries or something. I feel like the process is much different but maybe the outcome can be the same as far as how it may effect somebody. I don't know.
For me its work. But I love what I do. Through music I try to express my truest reality of the moment through sound. With making coffee I'm just trying to wake up /////