I am intrigued the curious spirit of Questlove, the drummer and one of the leaders of The Roots. He seems to have his fingers and mind into many things, all with what appears a desire to collaborate and make stuff (like music but not just music) and to reflect on and share out his experiences in hopes of inspiring others.
His latest book — Creative Quest — is an exploration (with co-writer Ben Greenman) of his ideas on how to be and how to stay creative in the world.
While the book itself is rather uneven (and could have used a better editor to tighten the text), Questlove’s voice comes through the mix as he talks about expanding the definitions and ideas of what an artist is, how the influx of technology can both help and hinder the creative spirit, how moving out of your comfort zone is as important as mining the treasures of that same space, how collaborating with others will give you new paths to follow even if they at first make your uncomfortable, and how remix and appreciative appropriation of others’ work can build into something new.
Questlove mentions that he enjoys the segments on The Tonight Show (his band is the house band for Jimmy Fallon) when they play with artists outside of their typical genre, and notes that when they do off-kilter music segments with toy instruments or other pieces, it forces them as a musicians to work in a different way. All good.
It’s nothing new but Questlove’s advice to follow your instincts and be open to the unknown ring true with me as someone who tries to do creative work each day, as a poet, as a songwriter, as someone who dabbles in media (thank you, DS106).
I do wish that the book had brought the reader deeper into the songwriting process of The Roots. He does share some stories of being in the studio with artists like D’Angelo and Tariq, his main partner in The Roots. But mostly those stories are about finding a sound, as opposed to discovering through creative experimentation the song that needs to be written and sung.
Ah. Well. Maybe next time.
For now, I enjoyed Questlove’s journey into creativity with Creative Quest, and I hope his message of how nurturing and exploring a creative life can enhance all of our worlds is something that resonates. Find art. Make art.
Peace (sing it),