Interview- DJ Neil Armstrong pt 2

It’s a funny story how Neil became Jay’s DJ.  Apparently, the taste-maker and creative spirit extraordinaire Vashtie recommended Neil Armstrong to Jay-Z as he asked who a good DJ would be for him.  She had heard his mixtapes and liked them.  Jay trusted her sense of taste, and the rest was history…

Read The Rest


The Creative Mind

Finally, there’s proof.  Something I always felt I saw happening.  Something many people have commented on in various ways, perceiving, but not quite able to articulate.  Probably part of the reason why a lot of films are starting to feel redundant, why the music is so repetitive, why you probably can’t name four contemporary pioneers of visual art right now…

Creative intelligence is dropping.

I got this article from Newsweek that states that creative intelligence has been steadily dropping year by year since 1990.

Intelligence can be marked in various ways.  Some have emotional intelligence, meaning they can perceive emotions well or how to manipulate the emotions of others around them.  Some have a spatial intelligence, which would make them a great architect or artist.  Some have academic intelligence.  Some are creatively intelligent, meaning they are good at taking one thing and creating something new or improving it.  It could mean a whole range of things.  For all these kinds of intelligence there is usually some kind of test that is associated.  We most know of IQ tests or SATs.  Well then there’s the Torrance test.  The article goes into some detail on the test and so forth, but here are the most striking parts of what the article says about the decline of creativity over the years…

…there is one crucial difference between IQ and CQ scores. With intelligence, there is a phenomenon called the Flynn effect—each generation, scores go up about 10 points. Enriched environments are making kids smarter. With creativity, a reverse trend has just been identified and is being reported for the first time here: American creativity scores are falling.

Kyung Hee Kim at the College of William & Mary discovered this in May, after analyzing almost 300,000 Torrance scores of children and adults. Kim found creativity scores had been steadily rising, just like IQ scores, until 1990. Since then, creativity scores have consistently inched downward. “It’s very clear, and the decrease is very significant,” Kim says. It is the scores of younger children in America—from kindergarten through sixth grade—for whom the decline is “most serious.”

It’s too early to determine conclusively why U.S. creativity scores are declining. One likely culprit is the number of hours kids now spend in front of the TV and playing videogames rather than engaging in creative activities. Another is the lack of creativity development in our schools. In effect, it’s left to the luck of the draw who becomes creative: there’s no concerted effort to nurture the creativity of all children.

The age-old belief that the arts have a special claim to creativity is unfounded. When scholars gave creativity tasks to both engineering majors and music majors, their scores laid down on an identical spectrum, with the same high averages and standard deviations. Inside their brains, the same thing was happening—ideas were being generated and evaluated on the fly…

A large part of the reason why I created this site is because I wanted to use the arts as a way of communicating the idea of “creative intelligence”.  It’s my belief that in order to be a great artist/entertainer, you have to have some kind of creative intelligence in order to move what you’re doing forward.  Of course, there are plenty of musicians who can play instruments, but do not have the creativity to improvise a piece.  Many people who are artists can copy a picture, but probably can’t create something out of their own head without a direct reference in front of them.  But that’s what, to me, means they are not ARTISTS in the sense of it being their path of life.  The life of a person who produces a product based on their creativity.

Leonardo to Picasso.  Stravinsky to Stevie.  Hitchcock to Spielberg.  Some of these folks have an ability to take a medium to the next level.  That’s the kind of thinking I am talking about.  Someone that can take one piece of an idea (like the Torrance test does in it’s drawing section) and being able to expand on it to create something different.  It’s a quality of leadership.  It’s problem solving.

So when we hear music, see movies, or other things that make you say “I’ve seen that before” and we feel that it’s copying something else, it’s probably because the person behind it was not entirely creatively intelligent.  But the folks who have a deep following and fan base, that have set the trends, that have changed the game, were creatively intelligent.  Kanye West.  Heath Ledger.  You name it.  They take the art to the next level that inspire us.  They are leaders.

It’s not enough for a person to get a mic, pro tools, and a computer program to make beats, and then call yourself a music artist.  Sure you can do it, or imitate others.  But come up with something on your own, that’s honest, and catches fire like Prince?  That takes another level of thinking.

I’ve seen a lot of people suddenly take up cameras and call themselves photographers.  People who jump in front of that camera and call themselves models. Folks who buy the cheapest Flip Mino and want to make music videos.   But compare the work of an amateur to that of the creative intelligent person with the natural knack and learned skill?  You can’t compete.

So before someone jumps up and calls themselves an artist, I ask, are they creative? And as the article says you don’t  necessarily have to be in the arts.  A business person can be creative.  Anyone can use a creative mind in any field, it’s just that we usually recognize efforts of creativity in musicians and storytellers.

And who are the culprits when it comes to the fall of creative intelligence?  Well we can definitely point toward the American school system.  We measure achievement by how well you can do on academic tests.  Your grade is reflection of your ability to learn. But plenty of people in leadership positions didn’t do well in school.  Along with that, how many of us learn how to create the solutions to problems?  We learn the process and get the answer.  But how often are we asked to create the process itself?

And furthermore, we have a society that doesn’t really reward creative thinking…at least, not until the thought has been proven to work.  Imagine someone coming up with the idea for an iPhone in 1978?  A computer, a camera, AND a phone all in one?  Yeah right.  How is that going to happen?  We doubt imaginations that don’t seem immediately practical.  A seed of doubt can kill an idea.  So we place a lot of doubt on “out the box” thinkers.  So then they also doubt their own intelligence.  But the ones that truly believe in their idea, and prove others wrong?  We praise them later, especially once they make millions of dollars.

I can go into a whole rant on the industries (i.e. film, music, television, radio, etc) that take “creative” works and market them.  Contrary to popular belief, people aren’t dumb.  It may take a while for others to catch on, but when they notice a remade film disguised as being “new”, a song that follows the exact same format as another one, people begin to catch on.  And when they notice their pockets being drained by nothing but the same product, that’s when the pirating happens.  And yes, the industry wants things “proven” to work, so they tell artists to copy the creative minds.  It’s a very interesting cycle that happens in every business, but we treat it with a different regard when it comes to art.  We think of art as needing to have some kind of unique mind behind it.  I don’t care if my socks are the exact same, but the art I enjoy?  Some of it needs to be original and unique to me.

It’s no wonder that a lot of younger people now are listening to older music.  They feel the creativity and honesty in it.  People are going back to older things trying to figure out where to go next.  Leadership is dropping.  A lot of people sense it happening.

I saw this video a while ago and couldn’t wait for the right post to put it up.  I think you all should check out the WHOLE LECTURE HERE.


Interview- Brook D’leau of J*Davey, pt III

As we round off this interview Brook gives more passionate insight into the love of his art.

I saw an amazing presentation on what makes great leaders.  As the person shortly put it,

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

There’s no question that when you buy a J*Davey album it’s not because you just want the music, but because you believe in their love for what they do and the passion behind the sounds and lyrics.  Any music can be good entertainment; but, the stuff that stirs your soul is what keeps the industry alive.  As Brook goes on to state, the music industry thinks they have found the formula and right way to present “reality” to the marketplace, when really, they have no clue.  Listen to him speak.

Part 3

The Music Manifesto

-Dealing with record labels


-Words of advice

Be sure to get in the know-

Brook’s blog-

Twitter: @WeareJdavey


BONUS- Brook answers the question- “What is J*Davey?”

P.S. Miss Jack, next week 😉


Interview- Brook D’leau of J*Davey, pt II

If you’re in LA this week, be sure to check J*Davey  out at The Roxy this Saturday, May 29!

Continuing with Mr. D’leau we get a little bit deeper on how J*Davey made things happen, changes in the music industry, and how it is now being on a major label.

Part 2

How did J Davey succeed?

Being ahead of the curve

What changes when you’re on a label?

The longevity of music

*BONUS:  Check out the video for the track Mr. Mister that he spoke of earlier in the interview.


To Whom It May Concern (Letter to The Artist)

Dear Artist.

Have you been working? I hope so.

I want to write you this letter as a reality check.  This may be hard to hear.  This may not be easy to read; but, I’m doing it because I care.  I’m an Artist just like you.  It’s hard, isn’t it?  You have all these ideas.  You have visions.  You’re pushing your way through.  You may have seen some other Artists (or people who called themselves that) push past you in what seems undeserving reward.  I know.  It sucks.  But let’s ask some real questions here.

Do you want to be an Artist, or a Celebrity?

I don’t care what your medium is.  Music.  Fashion.  Acting.  Writing.  Photography.

Are you doing this becuase you love it, or cause you want to be that popular kid in high school again?

Were you even a popular kid to begin with?  Or has the lack of popularity driven you to try to prove something?

They say a lot of Artists are insecure and want public approval.  I don’t entirely believe that.  I think an Artist is just as secure and insecure as the average person.  No matter what we do we want to make sure our work is done well.  If my work is music, I want folks to like the end result.  The ego comes in where everything has to be “my” idea, or “my” whatever.

At some point Artist (if that’s what you are), it can’t only be what you want.  Yes your intentions may be good to make people think differently, but unfortunately you might be making things too complex.  It doesn’t mean people aren’t intelligent.  It may just mean you aren’t breaking down what you are communicating in good enough language.  And putting complex things simply and effectively is difficult.  It’s nothing to fret over, it just means more work.  You don’t mind working, do you?

On the flip side of that, it may not have anything to do with complexity.  You may just not be very good.  Making art is actually a big lesson in confidence because you never know if others will see what you see.  You have to trust your sense of taste, and lots of people have different tastes.  But if you don’t seem to get consistent answers of your stuff being good, or no one seems to promote your work, then maybe you just don’t have that talent.  You can either give up or study harder.  I don’t advocate giving up…but you should know when to say when.  Quitting doesn’t mean failure.  You tried, which is a big step.

Do you have your business in order?

Being an artist pretty much means you’re an entrepreneur.  You’re a small business.  You make a product, and you sell it.  Just like a fast food chain, just like things at the 99 cent store.  I know, it’s not as endearing as you want to hear it because deep down it feels more sentimental than that.  I agree with you, but when it comes to handling business, that’s the role you play to the person selling your stuff.  Get your business mind right, or find someone else who loves business like you love art.  But first, perfect your craft.  Have you perfected your craft?  Do that first.  Then get your business right.

So, you wanna do this the rest of your life?  Well here’s something the world may not have told you:

Being an Artist doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be rich.

Being famous doesn’t mean you’ll be rich either.  There’s lots of well known names who aint making much money in Art. Yeah, yeah, I see Jay-Z.  I see Kanye.  I see Marc Jacobs.  All I have to say is, don’t let the music videos and E! Channel fool you.

You want to live “comfortably” off your art?

What does “comfortable” look like to you?  If you’re making $50k a year on your art, can you live comfy enough?  You gonna be able to raise kids on that?  Guess what, Art may have to be your 2nd job.  You know how some people have a full time job AND a part time job?  That’s most likely gonna be you.  It could be for the rest of your life.  Can you handle that?

Hey guess what else?

A lot of your stuff may have to be given away free.  Yes I know they say “If you don’t make people pay they wont take you seriously.”  Well it’s funny…people will try a restaurant and still pay if the food isn’t all that good, but no one wants to walk away with a piece of Art that’s crappy.  You see, food gets out of your system in 4-5 hours.  But a bad song?  It’s unbearable.  A bad movie?  You can’t get time back, AND it’s a waste of money!  No one wants to waste their time and money, even if it’s for a 3 min song.  But yes, they’ll pay for some OK food and a possible heart attack.  The Internet has made a whole lot of things free and accessible.  You may have to give somethings away.  But if you’re good, it’ll bring you business!

Being an Artist is a very hard job.  There are a lot of things you have to do to “make it”.  Work.  Politics.  Following up your last project.  Being professional.  Thinking out the box. Pressure.  But being a creative person means problem solving.

So…still wanna be an Artist?


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