Indie Minded Guest Post: No More Complaints by Kat Quinn
This is the third in a series of guest post essays by New York City-based indie pop singer, Kat Quinn.
You may recognize Kat Quinn from Late Night With Jimmy Fallon where she was pulled from the audience to join the “Battle of The Instant Songwriters.” Given a song title and less than an hour to write it, Quinn performed her original, “Clouds Are People Too,” live on Late Night, gaining fans nationwide.
After moving to New York in the summer of 2011, Quinn teamed up with Peter Calo (Carly Simon) to record her debut EP, Exhale. Quickly gaining momentum, Adam Rhodes (Bon Iver) came on board to produce the follow up record, Kind of Brave, released in December of 2013.
Please sit back and enjoy…. “No More Complaints” by Kat Quinn:
“Complain about the way other people make software by making software” -Andre Torrez
Let’s do this, shall we? Stop complaining. That is not a productive use of energy. If you don’t like how something is done, figure out a better way to do it, and then DO IT. If you hate everyone’s songwriting, don’t write a scathing review, or snicker under your breath (or worse.. snicker over your breath, so other people can hear you). Go write a better song.
Productive uses of time- making, building, creating, inspiring.
Destructive use of time- tearing down other people and/or their creations and businesses. This is literally destructive. For all parties involved.
That is not to say you shouldn’t think critically. Critical thinking is crucial for personal growth. So…
Breakdown Part Two:
Productive- Honestly analyzing other people’s songs, performances, businesses, etc. Figure out what draws you in and what shuts you out.. FOR YOURSELF. Do not tweet/post/blog about your findings. Take it in and use it to help craft your next project.
Destructive- Bad mouthing someone else’s song, performance, business, etc. for no reason other than to tell people you think it sucks and you could do better. If you think you can do better, DO BETTER.
I grew up in a house where complaints were never tolerated. Even as a four year-old kid, if I complained about a stomach ache, you know what my dad told me? “It builds character.”
Looking back, do I think a stomach ache builds character? No. A stomach ache is one of life’s special miseries that convinces you nothing will ever be enjoyable again, and if you could just get better, you would really start appreciating this beautiful world. But then it’s over, and you’re back to getting mad about a pen mark on your shirt and other such crises, having gained no new perspectives on life.
However, the lessons I learned from being told it would build character, built character.
Lesson 1 (the most obvious, and least important): No one wants to hear you complain. Duh.
Lesson 2: Something positive can be drawn from every experience.
Lesson 3: The situation is not in your control, but your response is. Therefore, it is your response that deserves your energy, not the situation.
Iyanla Venzant brilliantly sums it up by saying, “any time you fight against reality, you will suffer.” Did you just smack your forehead when you read that? Because I did when I first read it. How did it take someone telling me that for me to understand it?
When she says reality, I take that to be the situation– the stomach ache, the song you don’t like, the record label that only wants to sign YouTube stars. Accept those things. They are reality. Do not focus your energy on complaining that things are the way they are. Your energy is needed elsewhere. Once you have accepted those realities, you can figure out how you want to respond. That is what strong character is. It’s understanding what’s in your control, and responding as best as you can.
So, you don’t like someone’s music? Make better music. You don’t like the state of the music business? Find a way to make it work for you or find a different business (or write a kickass song about it.. maybe that is how you will make it work for you). DO NOT stand in the room and complain about how you don’t like it. That is a destructive use of time that creates nothing but a headache. But don’t worry, if you accidentally slip (as we all do at times) just remember that every headache is an opportunity to build character. Right, Dad?