A Croatian, An Australian, And A Dutchman Walk Into A Studio
Locked together for a weekend in Sing Sing Studio, they discussed the state of world affairs, exchanged life experiences and shared personal insights.
They listened intently to a songwriter screaming his lungs out and tried to formulate a cunning plan.
After three days they emerged with ten songs which could change people’s perception of the universe.
If we use the analogy of three men going into a bar, there probably should be a punch-line.
Unfortunately there isn’t, I’m not a comedian.
After more than 30 years of making music every day is still a new experience.
I have found I never stop learning.
It’s also a very serious endeavour and not a joking matter, although there is a lot of fun involved.
Making music is never a joyless experience.
Sing Sing Studio is located in a small village in the far north of the Netherlands.
It is owned and run by Milan Ciric, a Croatian who was forced to leave his country and resettle in Holland after civil war permanently transformed the Balkans.
I remember all too well when the conflict began. At the time I lived in Germany and was holidaying on the Adriatic. Along with hundreds of other sunbathers we sat on our beach-towels along the coast east of Venice and watched the fires burn across the bay.
It was quite surreal.
Somewhere over there, amid the chaos, Milan was facing a huge decision.
He had set up his own studio, been successful as a musician and even sat on the jury of the European Song Contest.
His hard-won fame and fortune was to come crashing down around him.
He did the only thing he could do and that was to try to survive. He got out. Leaving everything he had behind, he relocated with his Dutch wife to Friesland.
He then set about starting over.
It pretty well sums up how things generally go in the music industry.
You’re on top of the world one minute and destitute the next.
It’s a very unforgiving landscape. Fame of any kind is hard to maintain. If you stop feeding it, it withers and dies.
I have found, therefore, that the only way to continue as a creator of music is to ignore fame. I write and record my songs because I have no other choice, it’s a form of personal expression and I feel driven to do it.
Put simply, I do it because brings me great joy.
In Milan I found a compadre.
Milan has been at it for about the same amount of time as I have and has seen more ups and downs than most.
Yet he remains true to his vision. He won’t make compromises, he believes in making real music. He believes in creating something which is honest and original.
It is a pity we both live in a country which is hell-bent on turning music into a product. Other countries are certainly more supportive of creativity itself and free expression. They don’t push the idea that everything needs be based around a formula. Here it’s all about economics. But then, the Netherlands has always been a country grounded in trade.
The music industry in general has become expert in creating music which copies everything the best musicians in the world produce and then regurgitating it.
What you end up with is usually something which has all the pieces but none of the heart and soul.
In Milan I found someone with more heart and soul than most.
It has and always will be an honour to work with him.
Recently, Whittlesea completed recording its next album. Some day soon we will let the rest of the world hear it.
Keep your ears open.
What are your views on the music business?
Leave a comment below or join the mailing list and let me know.