This year I took on a project to release one original song for every day of the year. It was a reasonably ridiculous idea. I’ve been thinking a lot about why I did it, and I’m still not entirely sure why. I think it was partly down to boredom. It might also have been because I’d been writing songs for years and was interested to see how I’d do with song-writing deadlines. I had gone through a little spurt of song-writing towards the end of last year and wanted to see if I could take something on that would force me to learn how to write better songs, and just to see if I could do it. So I think that’s what it was at first: an experiment. I enjoy a challenge (which is helpful), and this project was certainly a challenge. The way I’ve always written songs is to play around until the beginning of a song emerges and to then commit to it and try and finish it in one sitting. It seemed like a natural progression to see how many times I could do that.
Today I finished the thing. So it was definitely a success in the most basic sense, but for someone who relishes in cynicism and self-deprecation I’m surprised at how much I feel like it was a success in other ways.
First, the amount of support it’s gained. What started out as a blog post with an embedded track has turned into a community of people listening to, commenting on, and sharing songs that I’ve written throughout the year. I was certainly a citizen of the internet at the start of the year, but I’ve delved a lot deeper through the course of this project and found a huge number of friendly, funny, talented people who have been kind enough to cheer from the side-lines at various points throughout this project of mine. And this helped no end, and was probably a large factor in me seeing the thing through. To put it simply, this project has led to a whole group of people I’d now consider friends who are doing their own projects, creating their own things, and who I’m grateful to for their help.
Second, despite the title of the project being The Cooper365 Project, I’d like to think of it as being the end of the name ‘Cooper’. The name is bound to linger about and will still be present in my YouTube channel username and elsewhere, but the name originated in a time when my music was being kept a secret when I was 16 or something and I hid behind it out of embarrassment. I don’t know what the embarrassment would be. Maybe, that I’d be bothering to attempt something creative. Maybe that what I’m making isn’t any good. Maybe because releasing music is such a contradiction with my hatred of public performance. Meh. I’ll still keep the Cooper365 Bandcamp and the Cooper365 Tumblr around as records of the year, but it is only as a consequence of this year that I’m comfortable to move over to ardiecollins.bandcamp.com (under construction) and to release tracks as Ardie Collins for any stuff I’ll be recording in the future.
These are the main things that come to mind as immediate side-effects of the year. And the third (I suppose, most relevant) thing, is that I think I’m starting to get to grips with writing songs. There was a huge range in quality across the course of the year. Many I have completely forgotten, many I remember as being reasonably awful, but a decent number that I’m pleased with. And that’s something that I hadn’t thought about at the start of the year. I wasn’t really thinking about the end product; it was more about learning the process of song-writing, and about completing a challenge. But I now have 365 songs, some of which I plan on collecting together and recording properly on albums or EPs, along with some more I haven’t written yet. In contrast to the hurried nature of much of the song-writing throughout this year, though, this is something I plan on taking my time with. If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it properly.
Something else I’m looking forward to this year is listening to more music. Because of the nature of the project I’ve been surrounded by my own music which, at times, became a little tiresome. I’m keen to hear different types of music from more people this year. And to read more books. And to watch more films and TV. A lot of time was handed over to this project. Days had to be planned around when I would have time to write my song. I still made time to do other things, but there were many evenings where I would have to choose staying in and writing a song instead of hanging out with friends. Many late nights were spent figuring out a final verse. Many spare moments would need to be handed over to getting a riff together instead of reading a couple of chapters of a book I’ve been wanting to read. It’s not as if this was some kind of torture (and it was self-imposed, after all), and I’m unbelievably glad I did this project (it is probably the thing I’m most proud of having done, in fact) but I’m also looking forward to a different kind of year in 2012.
Having said that, I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up writing a song tomorrow.
Day 365 – Perpetual Noise
- On ‘Not Caring’, Why You Should Do A 365 Project, and writing ‘Day 236 – Empty-Headed Blues’ (ardiecollins.com)
- Much needed firmer plans on this Video Album thing. (ardiecollins.com)