Kerri-Ann Chandler is a Musician, Audio Engineer, Music Producer, Teacher, Lecturer and Instructor. All before her third decade. Her vibe is certainly one of serenity - a deep calm assuredness, whether she's on her instruments, in front of her students, or delivering the Valedictorian Speech for her Full Sail graduating class. Here's her 20 shades.
1. How do you define creativity and what does it mean to you?
My definition of creativity is the unexplainable desire to make and share something of yourself, something that you identify as you. It can be sourced from your thoughts, emotions and past experiences. It's the perspective of your inner soul, how you feel and sometimes where you feel it the most.
Creativity to me is a vent. Sometimes we can't find the words to say what we feel or believe. Sometimes we don't need words. Because creativity allows us to share, to connect to one another, to express ourselves when words aren't enough.
2. How much of your creative ability do you think is innate? Or is your creativity a skill that you have developed?
I believe creativity is entirely if not mostly innate. Everyone has, and is born with the ability to create. What differs is that we may choose different methods to display our creativity. Our methods of expression become the skill itself, but the creative ideas exist within all of us.
3. When did you realize that you wanted to express your creativity? Was it encouraged by others (e.g., parents)?
Music has always been a part of my life, from the age of 3 my parents started me in piano lessons. In a sense, it was encouraged before I even made a choice. So for me, it was always there. However, most of my musical training was rigid and hardly ever encouraged me to explore my own ideas. There were always scales to be learnt, along with test pieces. I hated sight-reading. Even though now I accept that all these exercises have helped shaped my musical knowledge, in a way, my creativity at a young age was hindered. At the age of 18/19 I stopped worrying about those music exams and started trying to use these scales and chords to represent how I really felt, or where I thought they should go (musically). That's when I got into making my own music through sound engineering and music production.
Was it encouraged by my parents at this point? Well, I know my mother saw it as all those years of lessons finally turning into something. My dad isn't the most tech savvy person, so as long as I got an education and job doing it, he didn't mind. Whether it was encouraged or not, I had already made up my mind to do it.
4. What is your standard for evaluating your own creative work and the works of other people? Do you think that monetary rewards can be compatible with creativity in general? Are monetary rewards relevant to your own work?
Always put your best foot forward! That is my standard, the two most important words being "best" and "forward". I believe that if you make your best effort, you will be satisfied knowing you did all you could. But its also important to keep moving forward. Your work should become better and better every time, never going backwards to a previous standard.
I believe each creator has a right to be compensated for his/her work. However, it's not easy to place a price on creativity. It may be worth much more to one person than another. That being said, I sometimes find myself struggling with what my own creativity is worth to me and what it is to others. An idea can come to you in the flash of a millisecond, but can take hours, days or even weeks to be made into a tangible work of art. But, we all have to eat, right? So we come to a compromise, and settle on a figure. But the true reward is just appreciation.
5. Do you think your own perception and evaluation of your creative endeavors are influenced by the views of other people? What role do you think the culture that you live in plays in your creative efforts?
Yes, to some extent it is. If I am creating something for someone in mind, then I want them to feel comfortable, I want them to be able to connect with my own ideas/creativity. Occasionally this calls for creative compromise.
Our Trinbagonian culture has left a huge creative imprint on me, so much so that it has become part of my identity. Aside from playing the piano, I started playing pan at age 12 and since then I've played with many local steelbands and ensembles. The music that I've performed now makes up part of my personal repertoire of musical ideas. I'm sure that subconsciously I access it from time to time and it shows in my music, albeit in a different form.
6. What do you do when you experience a creative block?
I stop, take a break, and change my focus. After a while, I come back to the project with a fresh mind and a fresh set of ears. Its easy to get so engrossed in a project that you stop seeing the big picture and start nit-picking at tiny details. Usually when I come back to it, I hear or feel something that I didn't before. And that new element can send me spiralling through new creative ideas.
7. How do you make the leap from a "Spark" in your head to the action you produce?
Nothing to it but to do it! I just start. Most times, one thing leads to another and then 5 hours later there I am with new music/sound effects/audio.
Of course, 5 hours later, its probably dark outside, I've missed at least 7 calls, 3 voicemails, lunch, 12 new messages and 4 new emails.
8. Do you have any special rituals that you do in order to achieve your creative goals?
Not particularly. Creativity comes to me on its own time. I cannot force it, or else I end up underwhelmed, or frustrated that I'm not getting what I want artistically/musically speaking.
9. Has your creativity changed stylistically as you have matured? If it has changed, please explain how?
Yes, it has. I found myself at first trying to explore "the box" that I'm in. Meaning that there are usually certain elements or tools that I cannot ignore or otherwise stray from. Those elements make up "the box", or the starting point. After that, I started identifying ways to wander outside "the box" to find new ways to create new things, new tools and eventually new sounds. With each project I see and hear myself growing. I can tell that production rate increased. And even though I'm still not where I want to be, it's a learning and growing process.
10. What has been the greatest sacrifice that you have made for your craft?:
Usually, it's time and sleep.
11. Who or what has helped you to persevere and not quit?
Family, Friends and Mentors - They believe in me when I'm not so sure about myself. They encourage when I feel discouraged.
Those who said I couldn't do it - I did it just to prove a point: we can do anything we put our minds to. Age, Gender, Location, Money are all just obstacles that we can get around.
12. Do you believe that it is important to be accepted by others as being creative or is just doing what you love to do enough to justify your work? Explain.
Doing what I love is enough justification for me. I believe that the quality of my work, work ethic and relationship with others will be enough to get others to accept me. But I am not doing this for their acceptance. I'm doing it for me, because I love what I do and I've found myself to be passionate about this.
13. Has rejection ever affected your creative process? Explain.
Yes, it has. If I've put out hours and hours of work and it's rejected, I feel dismayed. I'll want to work at it until I get it perfect or as close to perfection as possible. But there are times when honesty is necessary. The type of honesty I'm referring to is honesty with yourself. Sometimes you have to know when it's a lost cause, and fighting will only do more harm than good. It may affect a work relationship, or potential future clients, it may even be your reputation on the line.
14. Looking at what you have created in the past, would you change anything today? Why or why not?
Yes and no. Yes because I can't help but be the perfectionist I am, or as critical of myself as I am. I am always going to find a flaw in my own work even if I thought it to previously be good.
No because I understand that this is a learning and growing experience, and I need to make those mistakes as I go along.
15. Have you ever doubted your talent? If so, how did you work through your doubt?
I have, and at times I still do. I acknowledge that I don't know everything there is to know about my craft, and even if I did know it, I couldn't do it all on my own. I've recognised the value of hard work and I know that I can only become better if I remain persistent.
16. What piece of work are you most proud of? Why?
The last film I worked on (Jab in the Dark). Mostly because of the amount of work I did with limited time, and the fact that my pace has almost doubled since the previous short film I worked on. I'm also proud of it because I believe the Sound Design I did for the creature's voice had the emotional impact I wanted it to.
17. Have you helped or mentored anyone else? Is there someone that you see (name drop) that you would like to Mentor?
I teach at UTT and SBCS, so I guess I'm helping and mentoring all the time. Mostly, I want to be mentored by those who have been in my industry for years .e.g. Mice, Beaver, Yoichi Wantanabe, Foster, to name a few. The experiences they have, and knowledge they've gained is just as valuable to me as any degree.
18. To a young Creative emerging in your field, what advice would you impart unto them?
Consistency is based on your persistency. Don't give up if you want to be great.
19. What would you most like to be remembered for?
Living, loving and sharing this great thing called Music.
20. If you were a crayon, what would be the name of your colour?