How do you know you’re a musician?

This week in Helsinki happened an event called LUX Helsinki. In several places around the city could be seen artistic works that use light. Some of the works were projected on the buildings, some of the works used humans and fire. There was atmospheric music playing, with bass frequencies that make your guts shiver inside. Both modern and primal. Excellent.

Projected on the walls of the Hakasalmen Huvila museum, one of the main themes of this event:  Darkness and fear are linked. We use light to fight away our fears.
Projected on the walls of the Hakasalmen Huvila museum, one of the main themes of this event:
Darkness and fear are linked. We use light to fight away our fears.

As me and my friend Jennica entered  the Hakasalmen Huvila museum and watched the collection of photographs of Helsinki in the 50’s, I wondered about artists: what deep need pushes some humans to spend most of their lives creating?
The black and white photos exposed were showing people eager to bite into life after years of war and death. They were eager to build again, taste food, dance, play, love each other, make babies. The photos were filled with energy. People were wounded, but also relieved and hopeful..

1950: Asiakkaita Elannon leipämyymälässä. Kuva: Helsingin Kaupunginmuseo
1950: Asiakkaita Elannon leipämyymälässä. Kuva: Helsingin Kaupunginmuseo

I concluded to myself: those who took these photographs needed to catch life. They did not have enough just living it. They chose to do it via photos, like others choose to do it via painting, dancing, filming or sculpting.. I choose to do it with songs.

How do you know in the first place that you’re a musician?

My friend told me one day that he knew from his earliest age he was gay. Well, the same applies to being a musician: you just know it.

Even so, I refused to go to music school when mum first suggested it. You know how it goes when you’re both shy and rebellious: whatever mum says..
When I reached 11 years old and I finally decided to go, so eager I was to play the red Stratocaster guitar like Mark Knopfler does, I ended up with a classical guitar between my hands instead and with music theory to learn. How frustrating! This episode fed my rebellion against music theory for many years. Yet it taught me the basics I needed to create songs.  And as I grew up as a musician I learned to appreciate and use the balance between music theory and spontaneity.

Mark Knopfler. Photo extracted from Rolling Stones magazine
Mark Knopfler. Photo extracted from Rolling Stones magazine

What we all have to do once we know we are musicians is find our way. Not all of us are cellists, saxophone players or drummers. All musicians have their “thing”.
Do you know what the key is to find out which? :

live and learn your self.

I had been so fascinated by free-styled guitarists in my life such as Knopfler, Chuck Schuldiner from Death, Dave Murray from Iron Maiden or Björn Gelotte from In Flames that I got convinced guitar was my number 1 instrument. Turns out, I had been blind to my own self. She was my second best friend.

Chuck Schuldiner
Chuck Schuldiner

The hints had been there all along though.
The earliest one I recall would be sea-camp in the Bordeaux area in 2d grade, CE1 en France. Monsieur Garmigny, too tired of calming down the boys to sleep every evening, found out that my voice had a soothing effect on them. This is how I ended up singing in the boys’ dormitory every evening.

My instrument is my voice, directly from guts to the outside. In the most spontaneous way.
When I use it I need no drugs and I need no therapy either. Darlings, try it: wether your thing is music or painting or dancing, expressing yourself will take you to the highest mountaintops. 😉

Concert à Lyon, France.
Concert à Lyon, France.

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