It’s an ambitious project, full of heart and passion. British songwriter JIM KROFT is travelling the world within the next two years, armed only with his guitar and a camera. It’s a project that celebrates independence and the connecting power of music. During the next months the musician will give regular updates about the trips exclusively on NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION. Find out more about the initial idea behind JIM KROFT‘s Journeys project in the first part right here and find his latest journal entry below.
I’m standing on a huge stage with my acoustic guitar. As far as I can tell, I am somewhere in the South of Beijing. A small crowd of Chinese festival goers are bearing the drizzling rain valiantly and looking towards the stage looking slightly baffled.
Less than a hundred yards from the stage and moments before I plug in my acoustic, a 7 piece Chinese metal band confront the oncoming storm with full amplification. Their stage is less than 100 yards away. I intuit my first lesson in China – there is a lot of money, but the logistical know how is brilliantly chaotic.
I am delirious with jet lag having arrived from my shows in Vladivostok (Russia) in the middle of the night. The metal blares relentlessly. I stare out. Raindrops pitter patter on the umbrellas. I catch a breath in that stolen moment performers know well; the mini eternity between entering the stage and playing.
I catch a glimpse of a thought. I know that I would not be here if I were still on EMI. For all my initial sadness at how certain dreams end themselves, I am aware that the greatest transformations come in our reaction to our falls.
My fingers start moving….the first notes are born in confusion, dancing uncertainly amongst the cacophony of metal & shrieking….I start to sing…truth is I don’t know where I’m going next…..
It is the biggest festival in China – Modern Sky. And my journey has begun.
Why China? Why the land of the Great Wall, the Cultural Revolution and the ‘economic miracle?’ Before I was on EMI I had been an independent musician for many years. I had developed a relationship with a Chinese booking agency called Split Music. But there was never the moment on EMI to follow it through.
The first thing I did when I lost my deal was to re-establish my contacts in the underground. For all the usefulness of major labels financially, I believe they can be a great peril to young artists.
Many exceptionally talented artists often get signed young. Their management and label deal with the business side. They are caught within a storm of activity and their ability to develop a network of close business contacts – especially of their own generation is often diminished.
That development can only happen through years of self management – and a fair few lost nights, where many a friendship is formed – and often in tandem with a splitting head! I was grateful that I was signed late. And even more grateful that I had a network that I had grown with.
I found myself playing at the Modern Sky festival because I was independent. Because I was desperate and full of fucking dream. And because of a 1000 nights waking in the ‘wrong’ places, following every lost lead to every place painted in the colours of dead end and nowhere.
Yet here I was, somewhere. The first song ended, the metal subsided, the crowd reacted heartily. They say pride is a vice. I’m not so sure. There are moments in your life when you earn the right to feel proud. Recreation takes many small and seemingly meaningless steps. But when they add up, they create a path, and on that path, when you are jet lagged and dazed and on a random stage in China, you can feel, for a moment, proud.
Modern Sky was not Glastonbury and a million people dancing in the sun or mud. It was an early afternoon slot on a big stage. But with a small crowd of people curious and hungry to discover new music. More importantly for me, it was the first step of a journey. And looking back it makes me realise how often we don’t see the significance or the meaning of things when we are within the moment. That only happens later.
Right now I know it was one of the great gigs of my life. Not because I played great or the crowd roared. But because I had shown up. I was there. It was the embodiment of realising that I was not broken by life, that I was not damned or cursed, but that reality still had the potential to be shaped by dream and will. And of course the desire to dam well have a drink with my friend and forget for a moment whatever the next steps may be…
Find all previous parts of his Journals right here.