In a recent interview with Billboard Magazine, Childish Gambino described his multifaceted artistic approach, his inspiration from Salvador Dali, and how he has incorporated art into his daily life in order to explore and find its undiscovered niches.
"In my house, I have an empty room: I have my studio there, a whiteboard with the Atlanta scripts, a canvas for painting and all my albums and DJ equipment. I wake up every morning and I start grabbing things — spray-painting the walls, recording, writing. They're all connected for me. It's all about trying to get to the bottom of what being a human is."
It’s no surprise why Childish Gambino is heralded as one of the most cutting edge artists of the present day. Unfortunately, we don’t hear nearly enough stories like this. So many artists have stopped (or never started) innovating and pushing the boundaries of sound, simply imitating other artists rather than truly taking inspiration from them in order to create something genuinely new. This is part of the reason that so much of popular music sounds almost identical. There are formulas for success that many, many musicians are adhering to in order to “make it.”
But let’s take a look at it from the other side of things for a second. Failing in music is expensive. It can burn a hole straight through wallet and your ego simultaneously. It also takes an immense amount time and energy to dig out that music within and be able to reproduce it into a work of art. So why take that risk and exert the energy when you can simply follow the beaten path, color in between the lines that another successfully created, and avoid all these obstacles?
Here’s why: you are obligated to mankind to explore. You owe it to music to explore. If you have the means to, not taking a leap and at least attempting to break new ground is not only selfish, but it’s cowardly. Exploration and discovery is what drives progress and evolution, and every person has the potential to produce work that could only be created by their own hand. That is a sacred thing. The worst part is, there are so many incredibly talented musicians who are just making generic music, using (wasting) their talent to capitalize on this clearly profitable system. It’s safe, simple, and lucrative to churn out a carbon copy of something successful, but that’s why this exists. It’s just treading water in the shallow end of an overcrowded pool. And yes, you can make a lot of money doing that if you play your cards right, because it’s proven that the formula works; people will like your music if it fits the profile. But music doesn’t belong to you, it belongs to us all, and if you are only in it for the money, please stop pissing into the already tainted pool and put in the effort to build a new one of your own.
If you’re going to contribute to an art form, respect it. Dive into the deep end and pull up something real.