Rebecca Phillips is an experimental/industrial R&B artist from London, UK. Her latest single, “Silicone Skin” was released last month. On her Soapbox, she explores gateways into the creative process, through harnessing the power of ‘story’.
I always start with an image. For me this is elementary because within an image shape and colour exist inherently.
Think of an image. I didn’t ask you to think of a shape and a colour, but I imagine that your brain transmuted my words into shape and colour automatically. I’m not qualified to speak on how a blind person would process the word image; yet images in whatever form they take are our portals for conceptualising a world beyond our own immediate reality – a tool that is crucial to any practising creative. Images are even used by us to unwittingly project our own surroundings with a tint of something that the person standing next to us, looking at the same wooden park bench, cannot in that specific moment access for themselves. They can elevate or destroy us. Excite or alienate us. So we should harness them into our conscious awareness and not neglect them.
I’m obsessed with the idea of story as the platform for communicating artistic intentions.
I’m writing about this topic because my close attention to and faith in the story that I’m telling within my creative work, has been my principle means in dissolving creative blocks in my own music. So if it works for me, maybe it can work for you?
I’m obsessed with the idea of story as the platform for communicating artistic intentions. I believe this is because I come from an acting background, having participated in many intensive training sessions and of course in theatre, the idea of story is a given; yet in music it is often negated. Instead, the concept of the piece of work is given precedence. As someone who likes to make work that engages with conceptual art forms and that attempts to exists between parameters, the traditional theatre was not enough for me, however I believe story has a place in the creation of even the most effective abstract and non-figurative artworks. Concept, for me comes later.
I find that often when I am specific in my framework when I create, I am able to form a piece of work that has a life of its own, rather than one that is easily decoded and can therefore be discarded. A concept itself does not articulate a three-dimensional world, it is an adjunct or a piece of expressive punctation that allows parts of the story or song (in this case) to flow into one another. Consequently it is the story that is able to give the concept useful creative grain. Stories are not only necessary for artists working in traditional literary media – they are applicable for all artists.
A concept itself does not articulate a three-dimensional world…
I know as a result of my developing creative practice, when I’m stuck in my songwriting and productions, it’s because I’m not being specific enough in my choices. In other words, I can’t identify the whole story that I want my work to tell. To some this idea may be elementary, but to others committing to telling the story of the song instead of doggedly going back to a concept can help you finish the track that you started.
Going back to the exercise earlier –
The shape and colour you saw in your mind’s eye when I prompted you, will, if you are curious enough, enable you to decode mood, tone, lighting and texture. These elements and the process of making these sensory choices – soft and slimy, thick and green, can pave the way for the semblance of a story, especially for someone who is drawn into conceptual and abstract realms.
Ultimately, stories embody a plethora of associations to a variety of people and there are different ways to tell the story but by enabling the five senses, a story that has idiosyncratic and definable characteristics can be allowed to emerge.