A Conversation Between the Universe and Me

Hi there and thank you for checking out the Matt Kollock blog! It’s been a minute, so I’m happy to be back on track with this thing. I was just gonna take one week off, and then a whole damn month passed. Shit.

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Anyway, here I am with something to say again. 

Recently, I’ve been feeling a little down in the dumps about stuff. A lot of it is because I’m bipolar, and that’s just the deal. But it also has a lot to do with my efforts to create my middle-class music career. 

I’ve been putting lots and lots of pressure on myself, which has brought me quite far in the year or so since I decided to make playing music for people a thing in my life. The pressure has also made it difficult for me to maintain my presence within the music. It has not been as fun over the last few weeks or so, and that’s because I’ve been way too hard on myself with unreasonable expectations and stuff. 

I just celebrated the one-year anniversary of the open mic appearance that kicked this whole endeavor off. Now I’m playing out regularly and people are paying me money to do so. I have fans. I have a website. I have a shitload of original songs and a bunch of cool equipment. I have important connections and relationships I didn’t have a year ago. I’m about to record some shit. I was just nominated as Albuquerque’s best songwriter(!).So things are going really, really well. 

But I’ve been feeling like I’ve hit a wall. Diminishing returns. People who hire musicians for things are not responding to my attempts at contacting them. And I’ve been playing to a lot of rooms inhabited solely by the people who are paid to be there. It’s good practice for building character, practicing my craft and ensuring that my name is continuously attached to events of potential interest to the public. But I started feeling like the “meh” reaction to what I’ve been doing is an actual reflection on what I do. I know it’s not, and yet I can’t shake the feeling. 

So yeah, things are going great, and yet there is this feeling like I’ve come to some kind of conclusion. That I’ve shaken all the fruit from this particular tree. Stuff like that. 

But Then A Breakthrough Happened! 

Indeed it did. 

As you may know from reading this blog, I have been working on improving my singing voice. It’s been going okay, but not great. The whole thing just hasn’t been clicking, no matter how hard I try. But then the other night on one of my cosmic journeys I finally understood the dual concepts of breath support and vocal placement. I found my voice! 

Discovering my real voice was like finding a box of money. It felt so easy and effortless. Like a magic trick. Like returning home after a long, arduous journey. 

Unfortunately, I have not been able to sustain my newly discovered vocal prowess. My deeply internalized bad singing habits have been hard to discontinue. And that’s okay. This is how it worked with my spiritual awakening four years ago, too; I experienced an extended period of complete nirvana, but then I had to start doing the actual work. Now I need to do the same with my voice. I know the prize. I know I am capable of achieving it. And I know what I’m going to do once that happens. 

So that’s where I found myself the other day when I began a conversation with The Universe — feeling like I had reached the conclusion of something, and also feeling like it was time to hit the woodshed. 

I feel like it’s a gift when you recognize the moment you stand at a crossroads. I am recognizing that moment now. It is time to remove the pressure and regroup. It is time to evaluate and reckon with the previous year of music while examining where I might go in the next one. It is time to hit the shed and kick my vocal lessons in the ass. It is time to consider how I might expand my audience and how I might involve other individuals in my endeavors. It is time to release the pressure. It is time to start watching the Milwaukee Bucks dominate the NBA playoffs. 

I have decided to take a little bit of a break to catch my breath and survey the lay of the land. I mean, it won’t actually be a break; I’ve got gigs on the calendar and stuff. But I’m not going to try so damn hard to secure performance opportunities to perform in unpleasant environments to people whose most enthusiastic reaction is, “meh.” I can do better than that. So I’m going to put down the guitar for a minute, work on my voice and figure some shit out. 

Actually, why don’t I stop writing about it and just reveal the conversation I had with The Universe? Yeah. That’s what I’ll do. Sorry (not sorry) for the woo-woo nature of this. That’s the kind of person I am. 

Me (To No One In Particular): I Need Some Help Figuring Shit Out! 

The Universe: Hi! 

Me: Uh, hello? 

The Universe: Hey. It’s me. The Universe. I can tell you’re looking for some guidance right now, so I’m going to hit you up with some ideas and perspectives presented in a way you can easily understand and implement. 

Me: Well, you don’t have to be a dick about it. I mean, I’m a pretty smart guy. Don’t make me remind you that you don’t exist without me! 

The Universe: My bad, my bad! I just meant that I would be couching some of the stuff in sports and television analogies. You like that shit, right? 

Me: Oh. Yeah, totally. That’s cool. Okay. So what do you got for me? 

The Universe: Okay. Here goes. The rookie year of your new music career has concluded. You are now in your offseason. It’s time to start thinking about Season Two. Use the next several weeks to work on honing your craft and developing your aural/visual presentation. Go to the woodshed and emerge stronger. 

Me: Okay. But I have shows on the schedule. 

The Universe: That’s cool. Play those shows with the energy and enthusiasm you typically bring to the table. Just don’t actively book any new shows until after you’ve taken your craft and presentation to the next level. Then you can hit it hard in Season Two. 

Me: Is this, like, a sports analogy or a television analogy? 

The Universe: Yeah, I guess it’s kind of a combination of both. In television, the offseason is a time to retool, increase the budget, conceptualize the next season, add some new blood to the writer’s room and the cast. Stuff like that. In sports, the offseason is a time to rejuvenate and work on turning weaknesses into strengths. So use those models as guides for what you should be doing over the next several weeks. 

Me: Okay. That’s cool. How do I let people know about what’s happening? 

The Universe: Post about it on social media. Actually, you should publish a blog post about it on Tuesday, March 26th, 2019. Then you can hit social media and stuff with it. That way you can point people to the blog for a full explanation. Feel free to use this conversation. You’re transcribing this, right? 

Me: Of course! 

The Universe: Cool. How does this feel? 

Me: Groovy. I mean, wait; it kind of feels shitty. Are you sure this is what I’m supposed to do? 

The Universe: Yes. And you know it. You’ve been feeling this coming on. It’s a natural time to break and regroup. It’s kind of like you just got knocked out of the first round of the playoffs, which is obviously disappointing. But you made it to the playoffs, which exceeded expectations, and the future looks very bright. But it all depends on how things go in the woodshed over the next several weeks. 

Me: Got it. That makes sense. And yeah, I have been feeling the need to release the pressure I’ve been putting on myself. I want to spend time working on my singing voice. I’ve experienced some breakthroughs recently, and I’m super excited about what I’m going to be able to do once I’m able to integrate a better vocal technique into my performances. I feel like I really need to focus on that and reemerge a better, more confident and commanding singer. I mean, honestly I want to be nothing short of incandescent and undeniable as a music maker. I can see how taking this time will help with that. You keep mentioning “several weeks.” What do you mean by that? How long will I need to take, for real? 

The Universe: I think you’ll be transformed and ready for Season Two in about 90 days. Like I said, play your scheduled gigs and play them well. But work your ass off for the next 90 days and you’ll be better than ever, making it much easier for you to book gigs and feel confident about your ability to record your songs in a manner that produces the ideal results you have envisioned. Today is March 22nd, so let’s say June 22nd is the date on which you emerge from the shed. That’s cool because it’s about a year after your first paid performance in your singer/songwriter configuration. But don’t wait until then to start booking more shows. Start reaching out again on June 1st, okay? 

Me: Cool. That sounds great. I don’t feel 100% comfortable with this, but I trust you and I can see how it would help me out in the long run. I am worried about losing momentum, but better to lose a little bit now in the early stages of the game so I can be stronger in the middle and later stages. You’re so smart! 

The Universe: I know. It’s because I am the sum total of everything. So yeah. I have the knowledge. 

Me: Nice. Anything else? 

The Universe: Not really. Just put in the work and you’ll be fine. You’ll be glad you did it. Trust me. Oh yeah, another thing — can you try to get some exercise? 

Me: Yeah, I’ll try. I feel like I don’t have time for it right now, but that’s how it always feels when I’m out of a regular exercise routine. And I know it will help immeasurably in other areas of my life, enhancing my music and everything else. Bringing me more confidence. Extending my energy and my life force. All that. So yeah. I’ll try. 

The Universe: Excellent! Let’s check back in with each other in about a month to see how everything is going. Sound good? 

Me: Sounds good! 

I Will Keep You Posted 

I’m going to watch the final regular-season matchup between the Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks now. It’s a battle between the two leading MVP candidates this season — Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Bucks and James Harden of the Rockets. Obviously, I am a Giannis guy, but Harden makes a terrific villain. This could be the matchup in the Finals, so it’s very exciting. 

But you don’t care about that. You’re here for my story, and I really appreciate that. I’m so grateful. I don’t want to let you down. So I’m going to keep working on getting better, and I will keep you posted on my developments. I think blogging is a great way to connect with you, so I’m going to keep up with that. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my down-in-the-dumps feelings occurred during the same time frame of my blog inactivity. So please watch this space. I’m going to try to post something cool every Tuesday. 

I also have shows coming up! April 4th I’ll be at Red Velvet Underground. And then on April 6th I’ll be performing at Red Door Brewing Company’s Candelaria location. The big one is happening on April 20th — I’m hosting the Red Door Spring Singer/Songwriter Festival at Red Door Candelaria. Yes, I know. It’s 4/20. But this show does not (officially) have any association with the kinds of things people are known to do in celebration of that date. Just do your thing discreetly in the parking lot, okay? 

So yeah. I’ll be in touch. Thanks!

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