'I've thought long and hard about this, and I'm admittedly apprehensive... but I think it's the way to go'.
For a long time now I've indulged in many types of music, and over the years I've tinkered, played, written and pulled sounds from the apparent ether which has tended to drift into a particular style. This ended up being put into my 'Big Blue Car' shaped drawer of music.
But I've also produced long, 'filmic' pieces (sometimes meandering too long for their own good) and 'Chilled' pieces. Or full-on angular, experimental anti-music with a hugely illegal use of film dialogue samples draped behind them. Or indeed something altogether more like a visit to an iridescent 90's Ibiza Clubland.
In particular, the more 'electronic' material - for want of a better description - has been easier to distinguish. So when ideas of that sort pop up I'll typically store them in the drawer marked 'Mesh'd'. So with a forthcoming album due for release (Sun Rises As Concrete Sets), Mesh'd was the name I intended releasing it under. But why the need for this alternate ego?
Well it makes sense doesn't it? Marketing yourself as a single brand is just easier.
And it's all about expectation too - if you write in a particular musical style and attract the appropriate listener because of it, they know what to expect. And the best way to lose your listening base overnight is to trade on their goodwill of liking that recent Folk offering, only to suddenly hit them with a new release of Funk Metal.
Consistency For Coffers Sake!
If an artist always writes in or around one particular style where their music doesn't necessarily change much over time, well that's fine. But there are plenty of musicians and recording artists who dabble across different genres of music, or who get creatively bored and stagnant. Some of my peers went from trying to write a commercial hit to lounging in the comfortable duvet of Blues. Others loved a more mathematical framing of intricate progressive music only to bleed out their creative juices with a new found love for Folky Americana.
We get inspired, find a formula and use it. Wash, rinse, repeat. And with any added financial backing from an external source there's then a responsibility to keep finding that balance which retains some higher commercial viability. As most of us aren't like Radiohead (note, Kid A), we can't just abandon our listeners (earnings) for the sake of indulged creativity. But if we aren't tethered to the coffers we can, surely? We just need to improve how to communicate what we're about and where we are going that little bit better.
Merged But Separate
Today, where so many of us are independently producing music and hoping it gains both a momentum and an audience, it seems to me that the freedom to be able to extend what we offer should be an obvious option. It's surely possible for us to have different audiences who are as distinct from each other as the material we might put out.
The danger of course is that once an artist or band starts down a different creative path, they will inevitably shed listeners and supporters who just don't like the new material - and that's okay. Artists and creators can become too readily moulded by what is put out, despite having an interest in creating other styles of music. Just experiment and do it.
This is why I've decided that from now on I will only be using the Big Blue Car name for everything I release - because look, it's still all me. I'll (probably) still use some kind of subtitle under the BBC logo, as in: (a Mesh'd music project), just to help distinguish it. In this way I hope it broadens not only my opportunities for gaining a new audience and expands the creative horizons for both creator and listener, but will also help keep Big Blue Car as the primary focus of the music.
independent artists should be able to do this successfully (I'm sure a few have). And once supporters and listeners 'get it', perhaps they won't knee jerk a reaction and jump ship completely. Change Isn't necessarily a new direction, it's more like a deviation or experiment.
Ultimately the artist has to take it all on the chin. Music is fast becoming automatic and not a little fickle. Many listeners are happy to graze upon algorithmic playlists, rather than wade through searches in an effort to dig deeper into the potential of more interesting musical territory. Why would you make that effort when there's just so much music out there being effortlessly thrown back in your direction?
Remember: Someone somewhere will always pick the lime centred chocolate in the box.