I take a seat. Lay back. Gently place my headphones on. Press play. What do I hear?
The strength and build up of a detuned distorted guitar with slight feedback letting me know that something is about to go down, and it's gonna be brutal. Followed by a truly angst-ridden vocal screech to match. Then comes the growly, hard hitting truth of the bass guitar in tandem with a chest exploding kick drum.
My skin covered in cold-chills, teeth clenched, and eyes welling up - all beyond my control.
A truly emotional reaction to what I feel as true emotional expression.
This - throughout the years - remains to be one of the single most amazing things that I've experienced.
What Is It - And How Can You Do It?
Simply put - it’s truth.
It’s paying attention to what matters to you. Taking mental (or even physical) notes on it, and putting it into words and sounds that are natural and connected to the emotion you’ve noticed.
4 Steps To To Cultivate Your Distinct Sound:
1. Cultivate the freedom to sing differently.
You don’t sound like your favorite artist(s). Period. And that is a great thing. The reason your favorite artist(s) are your favorite(s) is because they sound like themselves. Listen to your own voice. record it. Listen back. Find the thing(s) that stand out to you as unique. Not the things that “sound good” to you, but the things that are distinct. Embrace them over time. This isn’t about what you want to be - it’s about who you are.
2. Cultivate the freedom to interpret and tell your story.
How do you see thing? What’s your opinion? It’s all colored and shaped by your unique perspective. Your life experiences. How do you say things? Pay attention to that. What type of words do you use? Don’t change those things...embrace them.
3. Cultivate the freedom to explore.
Get curious, then stay that way. Explore your artistry - quite literally. Imagine an exploration. Imagine the details of that exploration. Consider all things involved in it. If you were an archeologist on a dig - sometimes you’d use a shovel, and sometimes you’d use a dust-brush. Treat your artistry in the same fashion. Explore it.
4. Cultivate the freedom to sing how you want to sing.
Bottom line: you will feel the most alive, expressive, sincere, and genuine when you just let it all go. Just be. Actively search for ways to allow yourself the freedom to let-it-rip. Notice your voice, but don’t judge it. Don’t listen to yourself all the time. Listen to your gut. Feel what you want to say. If you feel sad and distant...let your voice sound sad and distant. If you feel aggressive...let your voice burn (don’t hurt yourself:) What do you sound like when you are happy? What does your speaking voice feel like when you are lonely? Pay close attention to how you naturally react to emotion. Study some of your favorite actors and note some of these nuances - then find them in yourself.
Freedom: “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.”