What would your advice be to the 20-year-old version of you, who’s just starting their career?
I wish I had Everything Is A Remix when I was younger. I wish I knew that you can just start copying other people’s stuff and fiddling with it, and putting stuff into it, and just sort of build from there. It’s okay to be primitive. That’s a perfectly fine way to start making things.
I wish the earlier me understood work and practice more. Just the repeated concerted effort to get better at things. I wish I didn’t have the notions of talent and genius I had back then. I thought, “Oh, these other people, they just have something that I don’t have.” When really, they are just people who work more.
I wish I understood work. Work is the key to anything you want to do. If you want to play the guitar—anybody can learn to play the fucking guitar—you can be good at it. Maybe you won’t get to be a genius but you could be good.
You can be good enough to write good songs or make a good film or whatever. There’s no such thing as not having enough talent to get to that level. I mean, persistence is talent, really. Just sticking with it. Talent is not stopping.
I keep coming across this simultaneously reassuring and frightening notion that genuine talent is not based on innate ability. We’ve got no excuse for not being great. It’s all about effort and persistence and thoughtful, incremental improvement. Sure, some people have genetic advantages, but the hard work and clear focus of someone of average ability can overtake the half-hearted efforts of a genius slacker.
Do the work. Be awesome.