Hitting the right notes – musically & professionally!
I am a desk jockey – and have spent entire working days with a pair of earphones and a great playlist. I have rued the time when I would have to sign off for the day because it meant having to disconnect from those tunes and those lyrics. I have survived routine and mundane jobs because I knew that after one great track would be another, and that meant I could get through the next 5 minutes. With so much of our time being spent working on the computer, music is as much a part of our lives as the 5 times a day coffee fix. With so much music available courtesy YouTube or iTunes or other sites that one cannot legally mention, have we stopped to think about those for whom music is their job?
In the age of American Idol and The Voice, it is easy to forget that there are actual people out there – musicians and composers and bands – who are penning lyrics and using actual instruments to make some really great music! And I was reminded of this, when I spent a very pleasant morning at work listening to the compositions of Chris Avinash. Well, I could describe his music to you but let me just say that I closed a playlist with Billie Myers and Heart and Creed because I knew that with Chris’s music I would get through the day!
Chris Avinash has been an independent musician, composer and producer for the last 16 years! In addition, he is also a key member of Retronome, a band that has played in over 200 concerts to date!
Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters once said “I think maybe people see bands and musicians as some sort of superhero unrealistic sport that happens in another dimension where it’s not real people and not real emotions.” Chris is not a superhero but I think to have stayed committed to his art and goals for as long as he has – it’s hard to believe he isn’t! His professional journey as a musician is real, inspiring and reassuring to so many of us who find ourselves teetering between doing what we really want versus doing what we think we should.
In his own inimitable way, Chris gives us an insight into the secret behind the longevity he has enjoyed in his career and why he has “selfishly” stayed true to his art and passion!
When did you realize that this is what you wanted to do?
1999 – when my band performed and won “Best Band” at BITS Pilani!
Was it a decision which you took time over or was it something that you instinctively knew?
I just knew! I was always inclined to compose, perform and direct music for as long as I can remember. Nothing has made me happier. I have hence selfishly pursued my happiness.
What is the one thing you know for sure that one can love about this career?
If you’re doing things right – you’re bound to meet the most interesting people on this planet. Creation of any art will render you restless – in a good way. You will learn slowly and most beautifully the meaning of the term “art for arts sake”. It will not matter that no laurels are heaped on you and that you may not have much to show for what you do – especially for the first few years. It will leave you drained and happy like nothing else can. And that is because you would have given part of yourself to your creations.
16 years is a long time in any career! How have you stayed motivated?
My clients are my gods. Every year, year upon year, I have been lucky to find or attract certain kinds of gods who have let me do what I want to and pay me for it. My prime motivation comes from the envy in the voices of people who have incredibly successful careers but yet are in awe of the way I lead my life.
Is there any downside to your job?
It can get lonely at times – especially if you are working in the studio and spending days and nights composing, recording and editing what you will eventually sell to someone. It took me 8 years and all kinds interesting and laborious escapades to understand and love working in solitude. I can now be left alone for months and not worry about meeting or engaging with people.
Have you ever thought of throwing the towel in?
Many times! I’ve got really close to giving it all up and just getting back into a regular job. I thank my stars that I didn’t. Today I’m one of the blessed and lucky few to be doing whatever I’m doing in the capacity I do it in. Time teaches you to manage your expectations.
If you were to start over again, having seen and experienced what you have, what advice would you give yourself?
I have never, for as long as I can remember, ever wanted to own a house, a fancy car or bike or take international holidays or any do anything that makes me profound sums of money. Wealth, while it is a necessity is also the root cause of unhappiness. Social and peer pressure can do strange things to a person. If there’s anything I would like to do differently – it would be to not be swayed by public and familial opinions about the meaning of the terms “success” and “wealth”. I would have spent more time doing whatever made me a better musician and person. I’m doing that now!
Can you recall any defining moment or anecdote or experience (good or bad)?
This question is a reminder that I must write my memoirs one day!
Is this something you see yourself doing for the rest of your life or is there something else that you would like to take up later?
I will do this for the rest of my life! I will continue to seek out and accept projects and assignments that contribute to my learning, unlearning and then learning again. While it is important to remember that in any artistic field one must balance their expectations with the expectations of those who are paying for their work, the acceptance of one’s limitations and the understanding of ones inner happiness can never be less emphasized. If you are happy by yourself and with yourself the rest will fall into place very easily!
You can find out more about Chris and his art at http://www.chrisavinash.com/
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Cover image courtesy – Flickr user detailbilder