Spectacles - Cirque De L’Espace from 2013 inflame EP.
It’s a matter of public record love Burning Man, and I have heard many good things about Australia’s younger sister event, Burning Seed - which is why I was excited to be invited to perform at the Burning Seed Decompression event in Sydney.
Burning Man had a truly transformational impact on my art, and I was looking forward to sharing it with Australian Burners, the closest group of people to the 10 principles I had encountered since departing Black Rock City.
However my set was one of the most uncomfortable I’ve had in months, and I’ve spent a few hours reflecting and processing what went wrong and what I learned. Hopefully there are some universal lessons for performers & others on how best to handle an awkward situation when you may be called upon to deliver a performance in less than ideal circumstances.
Cut to silence
There’s no greater vibe-killer than a sudden cut to silence at a dance party, yet when the DJ stopped, my mic wasn’t on, and unfortunately the issue wasn’t sorted for about 3 minutes, which feels like an eternity of silence in a sweaty dance warehouse.
Once the mic did come on, I wasn’t in a good frame of mind to introduce myself & hold the space, so I just tried to drop a beat to get the vibe back. As a result, I lost the opportunity to connect with people & explain my performance.
Not understanding that I’m looping vocals doesn’t really excuses the immense disrespect of wasted people coming up and trying to touch my gear and getting in my face demanding “a go” on the mic et cetera.
I’m simply disappointed I didn’t get what I wanted to say out, and would have felt better about my performance even if the drunken fucks pulled all the same antics.
This is what I wanted to say:
My name is DA Carter and I’m sorry for the tech issues but these things happen in live performances. I’m doing my thing for you for 10-15 minutes, and my thing is words and beatbox, and those who are super keen for the dance vibe, the DJ’s will be back soon so maybe take a moment to get a drink and chill.
What I found at Burning Man was people ready to experiment, ready to fuck with the unknown and ready to be taken on a different journey to the on they expected. This is the kind of art that I developed at Burning Man.
Every sound coming out of this system is coming from my mouth and a few pedals. Every word is coming direct from my soul. If you want to hear what that sounds like, stay with me.
May I introduce
So the lesson learned was prepare, soundcheck, ensure you’re ready before you’re “on”, because if it’s not happening you’ll start to lose your assertive energy like I did, even if it’s no fault of your own.
Being introduced would also have made a world of difference. I was pretty much a stranger amidst the Burning Seed folk, except a few who had seen my set at Art Party.
So, if you’re ever in a situation where you are radically changing the vibe, make sure you’re ready at performance volume. Ask to be introduced and/or have the ability to introduce and assert yourself.
You’ll feel better about yourself if you give the crowd an opportunity to understand your art through a confident first impression. Because intoxicated, selfish pricks can always ruin your act, get in your face and touch your gear, but if you feel in control of your presentation and identity, they can’t touch your artistic spirit.
1. Preparation - get your space and your sound sorted before you’re on.
2. Introduction / transition - ask how transitions between your act will work.
Ask for an introduction or prepare one yourself.
3. Do your thing and fuck the haterz
"What About You?" Creative Masterclass with Jamie Catto.
Jamie Catto is a soft, funny, quietly adorable sort of genius. He’s made some magnificent music and film, and now he’s dedicated himself to inspiring other makers with words and experience in a workshop.
Two days with him and the group of artsy explorers made me feel a bit more sparkly, a lot more focused and driven to make my art from that deep wellspring of restless pain that keeps me up at night.
Over the weekend I sat with a stack of other soft adorable arty types from Sydney - the kind of person who want to spend a weekend in leafy Redfern passionately dancing about their thing, and explore why we wounded bunch of weirdos can’t sit still and just be normal.
An inspiring, illuminating lesson on how to make ideas happen more naturally. Check out www.jamiecatto.com