The sound of Silence: Making music when there's so little going for you


Ever woken up to the sound of a bird chirping at the crack of dawn? Sometimes that little voice may be crowded out by the sound of a matatu’s blaring horn. If you live in a bad neighborhood, instead of a bird you get the scream of someone being robbed or a gunshot renting the air.
As humans we have always asked where the Universe came from. What caused the start of time? When I wake up in the morning I ask myself where the sounds that reach my ear come from.
I grew up in a Christian family. My folks are seventh day Adventists. If you’ve heard of Seventh Day Adventists then you’ve probably heard of Ellen G. White. Ellen G. White was one of the founders of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. When she was young she claimed to have received a message from God. In one of several visions she saw heaven and all its wondrous hosts. In those visions God told her to preach about a new gospel that required Christians to follow God’s true teachings, to heed prophecy and to follow a strict diet. Ellen White  went on to be one of the most published women in the 19th Century. She wrote over 100 books, magazines, and pamphlets, translated into hundreds of languages. Her books are read along with scripture in many Adventist Churches across the globe.
Mean feat.
What is most curious isn’t what Ellen White was able to achieve. For any individual, let alone a woman, to spur such a large religious movement would be the stuff of praise. But Ellen White achieved all this despite the fact that she was a woman and black. At a time when probably a lot of women weren’t that literate to begin with, she had the strength and will to speak in front of large crowds and write lots and lots of books. And it doesn’t stop there. Ellen White was clinically blind. She wasn’t so well off, either. She wrote her books on pieces of cardboard and travelled long distances during winter to minister to congregations all the while her children were dropping dead one by one. She didn’t have much going for her. She had very little or nothing. At times even her conviction in God faltered. She preached spiritual healing while her own health and of her husband decayed. She stood in pulpits and addressed men during times when women were to be seen and not heard. She built a dynasty out of nothing.
There are countless others like Mother Teresa who ministered to the poor even though she owned nothing. Her faith contrary to what you may think wasn’t the grandest in humanity. It was just like what Jesus, the icon of Christianity would say to his disciples, do something with the little you have, the littlest of faith, the size of a mustard seed can move mountains. In this way we are similar to God. We are images of the great cosmic phenomenon. He formed the universe, an expansive landscape of stars out of number from a void. Out of nothing, he sprung light. Out of the darkness sprung light. Out of the silence, emerged the sound. And scientists in a similar vein will agree that the universe began at a point of zero at the origin of the big bang to now conceive a universe that is vast and continually expanding. Out of the splitting of a single ‘Atomos’ or Atom, you have a nuclear bomb that can erase a whole civilization in one strike. Out of one man, Adam, Atomos, came a population of billions of human beings over the course of documented history.
These cosmic lessons have made an impact in my own life. In my writing I have thought that I needed to read thousands of books to be perfect. To read numerous self-help books on writing to be able to reach more people. I have thought that I needed to build connections with every one in the rock scene to make an impact. But I realized recently that all I have been searching for has been right by my side. Sometimes the strength we seek has already been bestowed upon us. Sometimes the god we look for has always been residing within us. And we seek out other people to tell us what we already know.
This has also been my lesson while working with Lust of A Dying Breed. We have been working on an album when we had practically nothing going for us. No money to record. No equipment. No personnel. Sometimes we have have not had even the faintest glimmer of hope. But we have always wanted that struggle to mean something to someone going through the same thing. Brothel Hell is a testament to that.

The rock scene in Kenya may be small. It may not have world beating bands. The shows may at times be dismal. You may not like half the bands and may not even have enough money for the tickets to attend said shows. My editor and I have woken up on days and went into town with no idea how we’d pay for the show. But we make it work. Because will is stronger than any assemblage of resources you may have at hand.

And I want this similar experience of countless of people across the vast expanse of time to mean something to you too. I want Jesus to speak to you not as a Christian but as a human being who had nothing going for him but will. I know there is a kid out there, who has been seeing bands on youtube gather massive crowds and has the same dreams. You may not even own a guitar and you can’t sing for shit. But that didn’t stop Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead. One of the greatest vocalists in our scene, David Mburu never had much confidence in his vocal ability when he started out. You bump into him and ask him and he’ll tell you the same thing. Many bands I talk to will tell you they recorded their Eps in their bedrooms with a simple microphone and a laptop computer. Many of the bands we have today started out as garage band without so much as a guitar to their name. but so much can be achieved out of nothing. And you too can do the same. You just need to stop doubting yourself and get on with it. The journey will be as tough as nails. No road to glory is paved with carnations and Willow trees. Sometimes you will sleep hungry, if you will sleep at all. Your plans will fall flat on their face. You will lose months of hard work. Your band mates will be drama queens who will disappoint you when you need them most. And it might take what seems to be forever to do anything meaningful. But Rome wasn’t built in a day and those Romans didn’t give up either. And neither will you. This isn’t just for those wishing to start out. This is also for those who gave out along the way. You must know that life doesn’t play with kids gloves. Whichever thing you start out on, the situation will be anything but ideal. Get back into the fight and stick with it.
If normal human beings won’t convince you then let God be your example, or the big bang.
I have constantly wondered where the sounds that reach me in the morning come from. Now I know. The sound comes from silence.

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