On maintaining momentum
My old friend and mentor, the composer, filmmaker, and artist Tony Conrad once told me not to overthink things, and that it’s most important to keep busy creating. Because once you’ve finished making something, you’ll have plenty of time to think about and learn from it. I find it useful to stay busy and, therefore, stay light. When I lift weights with my friend John, he’s pointed out that if you stop between repetitions, it’s hard to get going again, and so you should try to create a rhythm. I’ve thought of how this relates to my creative work, and have realized that I do a lot of projects at once so I can move between things with fewer stops. As John’s mentioned, “In a larger sense, everything is about being efficient.” It’s how you keep going. — Brandon
With the camera, I’m super efficient. I can take the camera, go out by myself, shoot something, put it away, get it developed, and digitize it. Then when it’s time, I come to it and start to work on the photograph. For me, that’s a really efficient way of starting to make things.
The work that I do outside of the physical training is designing body armor and other tools for people in the special forces. Those guys are on their own a lot. Essentially, they’re trained to be part of a team, but autonomous at the same time. A lot of that does translate to the physical training I do. I keep the equipment at a really rudimentary level. I recently moved my clients out of the gym environment and into a park.
That kind of training allows you to be independent. We work a lot on that in terms of the equipment that we produce for these Special Forces guys. You think about something as simple as Velcro. The reason Velcro appeared on military equipment is that it’s not like a button that can pop off, or a zipper that can get stuck. It’s something that you can open and close quickly, and that can make a real difference in terms of living or dying.
I definitely transpose projects and obligations against each other. I try to turn laziness into productiveness, in some way. If I’m avoiding doing one project, I’ll do another. So, either way, you get productive.
But yeah, I try to cheat on one obligation with another project or productive, creative thing. It’s fun to have a creative outlet, like a creative vacation from your creative vacation and try to set up this weird chain of events, because it’s either trying to spin those plates and set those things up, or just lay there and be as lazy as possible. It’s like one or the other. I feel like a bad three hours and I could just end up in bed for a couple months out of laziness.
I have trouble working in more than one creative mode at once. So, if I’m in a phase of trying to write an album and then I’m just writing music all the time, I’m not opening Microsoft Word to write a poem. I also cannot write music on tour, because there’s not enough space to do it, whereas if you’re sitting in a van with a notebook you can sort of surprise yourself with where your brain will go on a eight-hour drive. Poetry for me is a very visual medium, I’ve always sort of drawn and written my poems. I studied with Saskia Hamilton and she would often have us go to a museum and write. I’ve always enjoyed that practice of going to museums with a notebook and just seeing what I could get and touring is the best way to see a lot of museums in a short period of time.
I’ve worked really hard to set up my little creative laboratory up here in the Catskills, so now I have a separate building from my house that has an art/music room and another room that will be a kind of screening room. I’m set up to do my art, to write, to read, to take in films, and to make music, either by myself or with other people. I’m like well, don’t stop now. Now’s the time to make more music and do more stuff. I’m very happy that way. I feel good about it. Don’t wait. Don’t waste time. Do it.
Brandon Stosuy is Editor in Chief at The Creative Independent and a Music Curator at the Broad Museum in Los Angeles. He was formerly Director of Editorial Operations at Pitchfork. He co-founded and co-curates the annual Basilica Soundscape festival in Hudson, N.Y. and the ongoing Tinnitus music series in NYC. For the past several years he and the artist Matthew Barney have collaborated on a series of live events, objects, and publications. They launched a Trump Countdown clock in June 2017 across from the UN. His anthology, Up is Up, But So Is Down: New York’s Downtown Literary Scene, 1974-1992, was published by NYU Press in 2006. His first children’s book, Music Is, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2016. He has a second children’s book forthcoming, also on Simon & Schuster, in 2018.