Life has a strange way of joining apparently unrelated dots together.
When things seem completely detached we find them mixed together into weird significant moments. Creativity emerges from this kind of stuff.
Nothing emerges in a vacuum. Creativity requires borrowing, stealing, and the influence of the past. This is true whether we are are consciously aware or not.
You never know the potential impact that what you are doing right now is going to have on tomorrow. It might feel mundane, futile and stupid, but it might well be the first step to something amazing.
A Common Denominator
Over the past few years I experienced two significant moments. I’m pretty sure they are both linked in some way despite the fact that they feel completely unrelated.
The first was in 2014 when I fulfilled an ambition of mine and performed at a TED conference. The second thing…I ended up working as an undertaker.
An album was the common denominator in both instances…
One World Less
Around this time I also wrote a novel; it was very much unchartered territory. Other than a few blog posts I never considered myself in any way a writer. But the concept I had stumbled on appealed to my creative soul. It spoke to the depths of my creative being so I went for it and brought a newly imagined world to life.
I had no confidence in my ability to write and experienced some pretty wild levels of impostor syndrome. So rather than risk what felt like everything, the book was serialised and released in four parts alongside the four EPs which made up the One World Less collection.
The novel was called The Prisoner. It is an exploration of creativity, relationships, and culture. It served as a therapeutic exercise, and one that planted a very strange seed for years down the line.
A Funeral Scene
There is a big funeral scene pretty early on in the book. The protagonist is met with the news that his brother had recently died which fighting in a war.
Researching and writing that chapter left me dwelling on one question: how the hell do people start work in the funeral profession?
Fast forward to 2014. I was in South Africa visiting my parents who were working in Johannesburg for the year. I had reached a point where my passion for the freelance work I had been doing was dwindling and I needed a part time job to supplement my music and online business.
An Unexpected Turn
I flicked through job vacancies online and stumbled on one for a Funeral Service Operative. My mind immediately jumped back. I was reminded of the old question. Perhaps I was about to find out how the hell people end up in the funeral profession.
I bit the bullet and went for it. I got the job. I’m now a part-time undertaker.
Yep, half of my time is currently taken up driving long black cars and burying people. Before you say it, I’m fully aware of the appropriateness as a person with Mort for a surname. And no, you’re not the first to think it.
The Most Unexpected Source
The weekend before my job interview I had been invited to Cyprus to speak and perform at a TEDx conference in Nicosia. This was literally a dream come true and the fulfilment of one of my life’s ambitions.
I had recently spoken with my friend, Jono about certain life goals. That was the first time I admitted even to myself that I wanted to do a TED talk. It was a vague dream. I guess it was one I never expected to actually happen. Certainly not so soon (it was literally a few months after that conversation that I received the invite).
It was all thanks to One World Less. In particular the track, Moon City, which the organisers had heard played on a Greek radio station. Moon City was never a single. The song was never a prominent track on the album and was not one that received much attention from listeners. It was however one of my favourite songs on the record because it captured the emotion of a situation.
It is about the breakdown of circumstances. A relationship if you will. It carries destruction on the backdrop of beauty. Bringing a secure, comfortable and ordered world that in an evolving instant has been overrun by chaos and confusion. Inspired by a scene in The Prisoner. Jealousy and distraction overcome Francis, the protagonist. In some ways it is his own imagination that has ended up creating the outcome it feared most.
Big in Greece
A while after One World Less came out I noticed that one song was getting many plays. I received extra royalty cheques. The main source: Greece. I had never played in Greece, I didn’t know anyone there, and I’d never even been, so it was pretty baffling. I did a radio interview with a leading online station. And a record store in Thessaloniki bought my entire stock of One World Less and quickly sold out. A surge of new fans had appeared.
Moon City paved my way to Cyprus, for a very memorable weekend (in many ways!) What an experience. One of great highs and significant lows. The lowest when my baggage (including all my equipment) didn’t make it onto the connecting flight from Paris. I had to buy new clothes and locate pedals to use. Thanks again to Petros for saving the day!