For me, being independent is about being in control of your art, work and career as much as you possibly can. It’s about finding a way to survive and hopefully flourish while ultimately being able to dictate what your next step will be and how you want to take it.
To be independent I think you need to set yourself clear goals and be willing to put your art before everything else in your life. Its a fierce balancing act. I have always set myself immediate targets and actions that mean I am constantly thinking and doing, these actions are led by the passion to accomplish something that is real and honest. I appreciate this is a lifelong journey and something I have to be very patient and respectful of.
Being independent doesn’t mean going at it alone. Some of the biggest influences in my life have been the many creatives I have met along the way and learned vital lessons from. You have to constantly ask questions, take advice, invite criticism and arm yourself with the knowledge and skills you require in order to take on the world. Its a constant conversation and it is ever changing, so its important not to get stuck and keep on evolving with an open mind. Collaboration is very important. Working with other people not only gives an alternate perspective on your work and ideas, but also opens up so many more ideas and possibilities. Its an amazing thing when you find good collaborators and quite often you have to make sure you find a way of being in the room with the right people at the right time. You have to make it happen.
Depending on your location, and social and financial situation, there can be many barriers to your creativity and this can make things extremely challenging. I have spent most of my life feeling a million miles away from even contemplating that my music or creative passions could become a career. And I am still working on it. For me there wasn’t a choice between being independent or not, being DIY is an amazing thing but we didn’t have a choice. It was doing it yourself or don’t do it at all. It was important for me to not wait for things to happen around me, but to be proactive in my community and create opportunities, to invest my time and energy into making things happen so I didn’t have to move to a bigger city. I just wanted to make my city better so I could stay there and do what I love.
Ultimately, like most creatives, I want to do what I love and pay the rent. For me this isn’t a linear thing. I have had to learn a lot of transferable skills, recognise the skills I have learned that may not have been immediately obvious, and find a way of offering this skills out to get paid. While focusing on and financing my music, I am doing other freelance and full time work within the creative industries and always learning new skills. This is progressive survival. I don't know whats around the corner and feel like the path I have chosen is one big hustle. But I don't have to do this, I have chosen to. And I love it.