What is Passion?

Today’s article is a guest post by Kevin Kennedy (who produces cool techno under the name FBK).  Check out his SoundCloud page here.  I thank Kevin for his kind words towards me and the PDJ community, and his insight on the purpose of this blog’s whole existence.

I have a confession:  EVERY year, around this time, I go into a week or so of ‘self assessment.’  Similar to what many do in the corporate world, I sit down and ask myself “what did you do this year?”  This year, being no different from any other year I’ve been in the business of music… I sat down.

And drew a blank.

There are so many accomplishments and achievements that dealt with me this year, yet for some reason I could not write them out.  This normally occurs on pen and paper (I’m old-fashioned).  It took some very interesting things to happen for me to get started on my assessment – and along the way, a great question came up.  First, a story:

I was invited to a record release party for a good close friend of mine.  His label (Musicality Records) was putting out its first release, and I have been involved in the process of mixing, pre-mastering and preparing the release for vinyl.  I also had a remix on the record, so I wanted to celebrate my last vinyl release of the year (this year, I had 4 such releases, not a bad year at all 🙂

A very well attended show with an enthusiastic crowd and great music being played by some great DJs (including my friend Seth ‘Dedikate’ Carter – who runs the Musicality label).  It was amazing to get to hear the record played on a large soundsystem; Truth is, when you have a hand in creating something and you get to see/hear the result, it’s a feeling to me that never gets old.

Going home, I had the good buzz that comes from a great night out, with the added bonus of hearing music that I had a small hand in helping to come to fruition, and I thought, “now I can write my assessment!  I’m ready!!!!”  But, I wasn’t.

I got home and turned on my television.  PBS was showing a documentary on the late great composer Marvin Hamlisch (it’s called What He Did for Love, and it’s a great documentary.  A link can be found here.

This documentary got me thinking:  WHY do I do this???  What is the point???  I’ll never be a Marvin Hamlisch, but what is the point of the exercise of making and composing music???  I settled on one word: PASSION.

This lovely blog, PassionateDJ.com (run by David Michael, who I must thank for allowing me to put some of my thoughts into words for all) has that one word – Passionate – in the name.  But, have you ever wondered what it meant to be passionate about something… or what passion is?

In thinking about Hamlisch, many of his finest works and great accomplishments came before he reached the age of 30.  He could have retired and lived off the fortune and fame he had already amassed… but he didn’t!  He wasn’t doing music just for the money anymore.  He pushed himself to create BETTER, MORE… even trying to top himself (he did the theme for a James Bond film, wrote the music for ‘the way we were’ and created the music for one of the longest running musicals of all time, A Chorus Line).

In my opinion, trying to out do himself… is passionate.

So, what is passionate?  Is practicing every day passion?  Is making a new recording every week showing passion?  How does any of what someone famous did in his life and career mean anything to one of us who are just getting started (or those of us who are ‘veterans’)?  Here’s something to think about:

If you weren’t a DJ/producer/artist – WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING RIGHT NOW???

I have been asked this in a few interviews…the answer for me?  Dead.  I’d be dead.  I cannot live a life without music.  I cannot imagine a world without music in it.  I cannot for the life of me think of how I would survive without my ability to hear, think, and create.  I could not imagine never playing a vinyl record again, or even never using traktor to play for a crowd.  The thought gives me pangs of fear and sadness that I’ve only felt when a beloved family member or close friend has died.  That’s what keeps me going… I feel like I’ll die if I don’t create.  You may read this and find it to sound extreme… but it’s where I stand.  After nearly 3 decades in the business.

Passion is not something you can measure.  It’s not an emotion like happiness, sadness or fear.  Passion is to me a verb… an action word that makes you rise from bed each day and go forward… Life is boring without passion.

One of Hamlisch’s quotes in the documentary that struck me was the following:

“Being a composer is like giving birth constantly.”

I feel that way often, and could not have said this better myself.  I create constantly.  I record often.  I design, sketch, write and keep ‘busy’ even when there’s nothing going on… yet seeing my work available for purchase, being played by another DJ, having my work recognized, or just being able to hold something I created in a physical form gives me an eye-watering joy and a sense of overwhelming emotion that combines happiness, pride, humility and being grateful.   For me, it’s a feeling harder to explain, and it’s one that I have spoken with only a few about because it is so personal.

“Passion is not something you can measure.  It’s not an emotion like happiness, sadness or fear.  Passion is to me a verb… an action word that makes you rise from bed each day and go forward… Life is boring without passion.”

So, PassionateDJ readers, this is my challenge to you all:  For 2014, I would love you all to not only ask the question “What is YOUR passion????”  but I would also like for you to FEED YOUR PASSION.  Remember: we all have to start from somewhere.  The desire to do is first.  The ability to do comes with practice.  The love and respect (and possibly money?) only comes because of how you feed your passion.

I’ve had an amazing year, and only see it getting better for the coming year.  I wish for all of you the same!  Stay tuned, and keep working!