In this blog, we're looking at my drum cover of The Unknown by In Hearts Wake and unpack the concept of balance. During the human experience we are surrounded by unseen magic, and we can use this to our advantage, but sometimes we become overwhelmed with possibility and lost in the brain fog. Would you rather dive into the unknown or drown in safety?
"To all victims and witnesses of fear" - The Unknown
An Ambidexterity Entity
This was the second video in the new practice space, and I was enjoying the extra room and new drum setup. I changed the ergonomics based around a brand new principle of symmetry, having the left and right hand crash cymbals an equal distance from the snare, giving balance to the upper body and allowing me to switch from left hand to right hand lead quite effortlessly, and in a way which had the visual performance closely linked to changes in sound.
Travis Orbin - Ambidextrous on the kit
Ever since I had started out playing drums, I was always very intrigued about the way that most players would play. A leading hand, typically the right, is the normal approach, doing most of the time keeping and fill initiation and creating what to me is a very obvious asymmetry. The right hand would often cross the left to play something on the left side of the body too, it seems counterintuitive, no? I became obsessed with the few drummers that made a point of breaking down this paradigm, and playing in a more natural way; open handed. Have a look at Travis Orbin above or Carter Beauford below.
Carter Beauford - Open handed playing style
Apart from the visual asymmetry of a conventional right hand lead, the physiology of playing like this always did my head in. Why would anyone only want to use 50% of the available limbs? From this basic principle, I was practicing from quite early on with both sides to even myself out and play a more ambidextrous style, even switching completely to left hand and left foot lead in certain instances. It presented more of a challenge, but a much greater depth of experience in the process. I would tend to learn something the right hand way, and then mirror that by learning it the left hand way. It was always important to me not to have weak points, and this method allowed me to build on my cognition as well as my physical control.
Feeling Lost In The Abyss
By this time it was July 2013. I had lived in Sydney alone for just over 6 months, slowly losing track of my mental health and my sanity without even realising. I was burnt out from long weeks of dreadful office work and only had time outside of my job to play drums, if I could muster up the energy or inspiration. I was on a path to a breakdown (not the good kind), but I was so focused on playing drums that I didn't have the awareness to take stock of my situation and do anything about it. I had balance behind the kit, but no balance in my life. I was putting all my eggs into the drum basket, neglecting my human needs.
Playing drums open-handed, leaving the right hand free (and available for tricks)
Some people won't understand the true feeling of depression. It is often simple to throw around descriptions, or even to offer what you may believe is help to someone who may be suffering. The truth is that since depression is experienced from within, it's extraordinarily difficult to do anything to help, and I know this from both sides of the coin. After enough time without my family, without friends or a band to play with, and being ground down by meaningless work for an uncaring company, I started to break.
I can vividly remember spending 3 days in bed without eating or moving. I didn't go into work nor did I call in. My phone went flat and so did I. To my surprise I eventually found out everyone was worried about me, but I barely even knew where I was. There is nothing anyone could have said which would have helped me, and this is really where depression becomes dangerous, though thankfully in my case not fatal.
It can be lonely at the bottom
I eventually quit the job, emptied the locker and left Sydney, releasing myself from the mental prison I had made, but that's a story for another time.
Did I Learn Anything?
I didn't have a plan for 2019 and I'm finding out again what it's like to start from scratch and decide what to make of a new situation. In the last few months I committed to a lot of purging, healing and self care in order to course-correct my life path, topping it off with an emigration to London, just for an extra challenge and the energy of a clean slate.
This time leaving home, I'm much more aware of how my choices will affect my experience from a holistic standpoint, and I'm making sure I take my time with decisions to ensure they're sustainable and congruent with my ultimate goals. The best part is I'm not doing it alone, even if it does look that way in the 3D. I'm lucky to have been welcomed into an online community of like minds that understand breaking out of the matrix mindset and being completely in charge of the self.
After a very long break from it, it's even looking like I may return to playing drums and creating content for the web. The biggest shift is that now I better understand how to create the balance of a healthy life to include the best parts of it, like playing music and connecting with others.
Even though depression is a complex emotional area, sometimes just hearing a story or being asked a simple question can connect with someone in the right way and change their life. Many have inspired and guided me along the way even if it wasn't their intention to do so, and this has imbued me with a responsibility to follow in the same, on the off chance that someone could benefit from my story.
Next time, we shift gears and go split-screen with a 2-player drum cover of Rabbit Heart by Florence + The Machine as the creativity of despair is let loose on the kit.
If you're after more drums, head to my YouTube. If you're after photography, try my Instagram. I'd love to answer any questions you have or give you some tips. If you would like to contact me, use the contact form or find me on the social platform of your choice - all my social links are at the top and bottom of the page.
Thanks for being, I see you xx