Of all my favourite musicians, Blur are the band I’ve seen the most. Whirling around my head for the bulk of my early twenties, albums like Modern Life is Rubbish and Parklife spoke to me about the world I lived in like few other albums of that time.
I’ve watched them play everywhere. From standing in a field while they headlined a festival to sitting next to the band in a grubby student union bar before they played to a hundred people. Ever-propelled by their tireless frontman Damon Albarn, they’ve always created music that moved me. But my love of Damon doesn’t end there, because Damon’s career doesn’t end there.
Rocket Juice and The Moon, The Good, The Bad and The Queen plus Gorillaz are just a few of the many side projects he’s been part of. Each one, completely different from the other. By working with such an eclectic mix of musicians – over 75 in Gorillaz alone – Damon’s put himself in working relationships that have enabled him to create music that just wouldn’t have been possible if he’d stuck with the boys from Blur.
For people obsessed with creating unique work, I’m always surprised by how reticent creative teams are to try something new for themselves and step out of their safe partnerships and try a brief with another partner.
I understand the reassurance working with someone familiar gives you, but the chances are you’ll keep following the same creative approaches to briefs. If you were to mix it up a little and work with someone with different skills, experiences and passions, you’ll have new starting points that will invariably lead to different and perhaps more interesting work.
I’m not saying make it a permanent fixture but to tackle a brief from time to time with a different Writer, Art Director, Designer, Social specialist etc could open your mind to different approaches that I reckon will add more strings to your bow.
Now I know this is probably a Resource Manager’s worst nightmare but as Damon’s career has so emphatically pointed out, the work’s stronger, richer and fresher for it. And I’d also bet it’s his ever-evolving partnerships that have kept him so productive and passionate for so long.
Cool doc on the making of Plastic Beach.
Merrie Land by The Good, The Bad and The Queen.
Poison by Rocket Juice and The Moon.