Today, I learned a valuable lesson about collaboration. And the true importance of being able to play well with others.
From kindergarten we're taught it's important to get along with everyone. So much so that teachers made a note of it on our report cards. But life isn't always as simple as learning to coexist with classmates, is it?
When I first started working with other songwriters a few years back, I thought I wasn't gonna like it. I'm a solo artist, I just didn't think I could do anything with someone else that I couldn't do just as well on my own.
I'm glad I got over myself.
Currently, I love collaborating on music with other writers. Collaboration is not about doing something "better" than you can do alone, it's about doing something totally fresh and different. Most people who I write with have such a good time with me that they wanna work with me again.
Today, however, I had my first ever "bad session." It was so bad that I walked out on it.
Often in life, after we have conflict with someone we choose to get angry and assign blame. But to me, in any situation when I have discourse I try to think about what I could have done different to change the outcome of a situation. I think that's a good way to be because it makes you empowered in life. That way instead of things happening TO you, they're happening because of you. Every situation that's bad just creates room for you to have better outcomes in the future. That's not a deep thing to understand, it's really simple.
Let me explain what happened...
In the midst of a session with a co-writer who I was really excited to work with, things fell apart. It started with her being 40 minutes late to the session. I'd gotten there on time, in spite of the fact that I was starving. Needless to say when she showed up tardy WITH FOOD) I was feeling an emotion that can only be described as "some type of way."
Then she invited a friend into the session to blow trees despite me asking politely that they don't do it in the room with me. I mentioned to them that I'd prefer they don't smoke in the room we were working in, in an inclosed windowless studio the smoke is guaranteed to dry my throat out and the scent gets stuck in my dreads. But since they had nowhere else to smoke they did it in the room anyway. So yeah. My hair currently smells like weed.
Then during the recording process, while I was doing backing vocals for a really dope song we'd started, the other co-writer got into a disagreement about an element of the song, a minor detail. I insisted it was needed & we went back & fourth about it, which is something that I'm used to because you come up with the best song after sorting through the different ideas.
But when I said "I've never even been to a studio where they didn't stack at least 3 tracks of vocals for the mix," apparently that was the thing that set her off. I think I blew her high or something. She began saying "Wowww" over and over again. Then she proceeds to tell me about the caliber of people she has worked with and even name dropped Chris Brown. I said, n these exact words, "I have also worked with notable people." Because at this point I was still trying to be professional.
Our bickering continued, and I just asked the engineer who was recording us to mute the vocal in question just so we could move forward. He muted it, but that wasn't enough for my lovely co-writer. She didn't want to drop it, she immediately wanted to talk about the "vibe." First of all... I don't vibe. Or jam. Or any of that other artsy shit. I just make songs. I told her that she's worked with pop artists, I get it, but my closest person to me is an engineer who got a Grammy for a song he mixed, so when I record I have been TRAINED to think about the final mix. That led to her telling me I was being Hollywood. I couldn't even stop myself from saying "Didn't you just namedrop Chris Brown?!?"
That didn't go over well.
She kept insisting that I didn't get her point. I insisted I was entirely able to understand seeing as how I'm the one who's sober and trying to drop the issue and move on. I then told her that I apologized if anything I said offended her, but that didn't make her drop it either. The conversation ended when she attempted to pull rank and said "You are in MY session right now." I said "Oh word? Finish it alone." I grabbed my shit and left.
There are two sides to every story. I'm sure if she told it she'd have an entirely different version. But ultimately... does it matter? When personalities clash, isn't it better to just not force it to fit? I love working with others, but only when there's chemistry, mutual respect and consideration. Otherwise, are we really gonna be able to be productive? I don't care about playing well with others. I'd rather just play well.
I could be pissed at the girl for the way things turned out, but I'm not. She's super talented and very sweet and I like her. She's new to New York and the transition hasn't been easy for her. That's actually part of the reason why she was late to our studio session. I honestly think she was having a bad day, she smoked a little weed to relieve her tension, and because she was high she was overly sensitive. And in her defense, years of rapping (and being a loud ass Chicagoan) have not exactly given me a soft, quiet voice. Maybe that rubbed her the wrong way. I hope that we can be cool with one another again in the future. I pride myself on being able to tough my way through anything, but today I realized that sometimes you learn more about how to play well with others when you're smart enough to walk away.
Filed under: friendly advice