or, "Statement of Purpose"
Future sevens are the digital versions of Seven Inch Records That Do Not Exist.
The 7" is the template: A side, B side, image, text, delivered in celebratory fashion once there is something to deliver. Inspired by rejections from an impressive number and range of record labels.
After my most recent round of pitch letters and demo submissions--or more accurately, right in the middle of my most recent round of pitch letters and demo submissions--my prescient and given-to-provocation brother-in-law asked me why I even wanted to be on a label. This was an irritating question, mostly because it required me actually to question a long-standing assumption, or even a way of viewing the world: that gatekeepers must be appeased, roadblocks removed en route to success, defined loosely as making things for a living.
Which means I've been framing my work all along in terms of a breakout record or a star on the rise, in terms of being put on the map, reaching farther and wider than my circle of family and friends, my twitter followers, and those who have liked my page on Facebook and signed up to receive email updates. This impulse, as I continue to reduce it, comes down to something like: I want my work to matter to people I don't know. I presume that Being Discovered initiates this process, which upon brother-in-law-inspired reconsideration strikes me as a particularly well-behaved, deferential, and ultimately self-effacing way to look at the world. I have no agency, it says, no vision of my own. Someone has to pluck me out of my inadequate present circumstance. Maybe it's not Being Discovered as much as Being Rescued.
I think that the prevalence of this sort of view is at the heart of our anxiety about new ways of making, distributing, and paying for art. We look at the beginnings of an artistic life as a hostage situation or a penance, as a practice that requires liberation in order retroactively to redeem it. Then we find out that the gatekeepers are scrambling too, that our heroes are mad at Spotify, that sales are down and sales are down and sales are down. No one is going to help us out of this.
There is transformative power in this realization. Once we've accepted that the kind of help we think we want isn't coming, we can have a pair of related revelations. First: we don't need "help." Making things is not a punishment for naiveté; it's a reward for living an ethical life. Second: the canvas on which we work can be extended to a whole host of sharing practices, that might look like "networking" but that are actually efforts to build community.
For me these were seismic shifts in thinking about what I do, and I wanted to mark the transformation with an initiation, an instigation, a statement of intent: upon accumulating 7" of vinyl worth of original work, a new Future Seven will appear. Tracks, cover image, liner notes, and an essay on a hopefully-but-not-necessarily-related topic. Tracks stream free, downloads are $1. And we'll just see what happens. Brick by brick.