A Conversation with Carl King: Writer, Director, Artist.Share
"There is a stereotype that goes along with being creative, and society assumes an artist has to have unusual sunglasses or wacky hairstyle, and to be unable to take care of themselves in basic ways (...). Being creative is a playful process, but it doesn't mean you have to be a full-time child."
Carl King is a veritable factory of creativity. Musician, composer, director, writer, web personality and author are some of the many hats King wears any given day. Carl King is the author of the book “So You’re A Creative Genius, Now What?”, now he is working on the project Morgan Ågren: A Drummer Documentary. We asked him a few questions.
The Creativity Post: Are you a creative genius?
Carl King: I don't define Genius like most people do. I imagine a Genius is more like being a Generator, rather than the result of a traditional I.Q. test. So it's more like an honorable lifestyle that you choose. Intentionally. There is a stereotype that goes along with being creative, and society assumes an artist has to have unusual sunglasses or wacky hairstyle, and to be unable to take care of themselves in basic ways -- like taking a shower, or getting all the fast food junk out of their car, or remembering to pay bills. Being creative is a playful process, but it doesn't mean you have to be a full-time child. You don't have to rub it all over everyone you meet. This Peter Pan Syndrome is what record labels and publishers prey on, this desire for creative people to remain children in the sandbox forever. And I think there's a healthy balance that has to be maintained. No one should be afraid of deciding they want to be creative, or to call themselves creative, or a even a Genius. Unfortunately, society will think you're a snob, especially if you don't have the unusual sunglasses or wacky hairstyle. I respect artists who aren't afraid of being adults and handling their own business.
The Creativity Post: Is Los Angeles a good place to be for an introvert?
Carl King: The biggest problem I've encountered is making friends. There is this sort of paradox… I've made a lot of friends who are creative and productive and successful, but everyone is in such a panic to get more gigs that there's no time to just hang out and be together. There's an inherent judgment being made about how important you are to anyone, career-wise or entertainment-wise -- you either have to be famous or related to or work with someone famous to have much immediate value in a room. Is it really supposed to be a coincidence that when David Cross is at a party, everyone's hovering around that area, pretending not to see him? Or that the guy who gets the most attention and has the most friends is on a TV show? Surprise! It's most definitely an Extroverted city, where you have to be out there bragging about yourself 24-7, meeting everyone you can and projecting a comedic personality. Otherwise you'll be invisible. It's an exhausting game to play, but those are the general rules you have to accept when you plug yourself into this place. I'm no good at it, and I resist it. And even when I try to play, I fail, so there's not much point. So I just try to be myself and be invisible. I miss the days of driving around Florida and sitting in diners for hours, just talking to an old friend about our problems or coming up with strange ideas for their own sake. Still, I've done pretty well here for myself -- it's just that I miss having friends who have no business motives. That's the world I live in here, but I recognize there's the possibility of creating pretty much any lifestyle you want, because the "city" is so vast and there are so many layers. I just don't get out that much, because I prefer a quiet and peaceful lifestyle. The last thing I want to do after a day of working is stand in a loud bar.
The Creativity Post: If for some strange reason you would have to choose between "writing" and "music", what would you choose?
Carl King: I'd most definitely choose writing. Over time, music itself is just not as interesting to me. I felt limited by it as an art form, because I was attracted to expressing myself through other art forms. It's a little weird to me that music is viewed as this train that you're not allowed to get off of, that you have to become famous otherwise you've failed. Or that it's superior to everything else. I consciously chose to stop making music back in 2009 or something. To be completely honest, the idea of music becoming a visual art made me furious. I just wasn't able to keep it pure for myself, because there's this constant pressure that everyone is going to be listening -- especially after I actually had fans. Their expectations creep in and ruin the personal process for me. I wasn't able to filter it. And I would get helplessly upset every time I saw Katy Perry getting more recognition as a musician than Morgan Ågren.
The Creativity Post: Please tell us more about your fantastic project "Morgan Ågren: A Drummer Documentary”, and let us know how can we help to make it happen.
Carl King: My documentary on Morgan is a personal quest for me. This is going to sound strange… but deep down, I want revenge against the music industry. I want more people to recognize artists like Morgan. I know I cannot make him more famous than Katy Perry, but I am going to do what I feel is right. It will give me a feeling of voting for the right presidential candidate, even if he loses. For me it's the same personal choice as being a Vegan. I do what I can to change the world with my own actions. I don't care to argue with people about it. I have always thought of Morgan as a special musician that is overlooked, even by other drummers. Maybe I will guide some people into an appreciation for what he does, because it can be hard to distinguish what he's doing apart from banging on things. He is on such a level that it often requires a trained ear. Of course, there are many special creative people in this world who deserve more recognition. But as a filmmaker it's a matter of picking your battle and throwing everything you have at it. I already spent $4,000 of my own money on getting the film started. That is very cheap in terms of producing a film-festival & BluRay quality movie, but to spend that much out of your own pocket all at once is not easy. We have a Kickstarter for it, and if we raise our goal of $10,000 we will just about break even. Still, what I am able to produce for $10,000 is going to look like a $100,000 budget.