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What do Formula 1 and Music have in common?: Appreciating the Creative Process

Updated: Mar 17, 2023

If you know me, you know that I'm a huge fan of Formula 1, and have been since the 2021 season after my best friend convinced me to watch Drive to Survive and got me hooked. I religiously watch the qualifying sessions on Saturdays and the race itself on Sundays, and some of my friends who don't watch F1 will ask me things like "How do you watch a car go around a track over and over again for 2 hours??"

I've thought about that question a lot, and really had to consider what it is that truly fascinates me about F1, and why I really got so hooked on it.

First of all, the car is frickin' cool. As someone who's not even a huge car person, seeing a Formula 1 car in real life for the first time easily became one of my core memories, because of how dynamic and really just objectively cool it looks.

Here's a picture I took of a custom Mercedes F1 car livery in Miami just to show you:

Secondly, aside from how cool it looks, these cars SOUND absolutely epic. I knew from TV obviously that their engines have a distinctly beautiful roar, but when I heard it in person at a free demo Mercedes had in Miami, my god, I was officially hooked. I've never watched a video of a car engine rev so many times in my whole life.

Even if you have no idea what Formula 1 is, nor even know what a car engine sounds like or is supposed to sound like, let's be honest, that video is just objectively cool. If you disagree, please feel free to leave a comment or dm me with something that you find objectively "cool". I'd love to see how our interpretations of that basic and overused word "cool" differ. I just can't come up with a better word to describe it.

Thirdly, and most importantly here, after thinking about what fascinates me about F1 to answer that question from non-F1 fans, I think it really is the depth of the sport. And I also think that's why the perfect way to hook me was through Drive to Survive, where they show you the politics, money, negotiations and drama that goes on behind the scenes every race week and racing season.

Every week since January I've written a blog post. I write it on the Tuesday before sometimes, most times the Thursday, and oftentimes even the Saturday. The important thing, however, is that it's done, edited and published at 9am on Sunday. In thinking about the topic for today's blog post, and just allowing my thoughts to flow, I realized that unless I tell you, you have no idea what effort goes into this blog post each week, nor do you even really care as you're reading it. And I realized that that's also the same for Formula 1. And then, I realized that that's also the same for the majority of things in life, and especially for things that have a creative aspect to them.

I'll let you in on a secret. It's 12:30am on Sunday morning right now. This is the latest I've ever written a blog post, and the most time-crunched I've ever felt. Now you, reading this at 9 or 10am on Sunday, or whatever day or time you're reading it, would never have known that unless you had an idea of the process behind my blog and how I arrive at a finished product.

And so today I want to talk about and highlight this idea of a creative process.

In Formula 1, it's easy to talk about the car that we see going around the race track, whether it's performing well or not. It's easy to talk about how nice the livery looks, or how good the engine sounds and easy to enjoy the race weekends when they come and everything goes as planned. But the reason Formula 1 has made me think about creative process is because simply put, it's really a hard task to design and manufacture the fastest racecars with the interplay of factors like downforce, corners on the race track and safety. They're creating this delicate car that has so many minute details that each play sometimes seemingly negligible yet definitive roles in the car's performance. It's this idea of creating something exceptional within limitations that give and take from each other the more and more you try to maximize one or the other. For example, you want to have a stronger driver in the cockpit to handle the G-forces better, but then a stronger driver oftentimes means a bigger person, which means 1 or 2 more pounds of weight on the car, which means slightly slowing the race pace. It's so complex.

For me, as a musician, my creative process is very dependent on rehearsal. When I charge companies and groups that book me to perform for say a 10 minute set, I'm charging not only for those 10 minutes, but also for the 10 hours that go into selecting, practicing and perfecting a 10 minute set. The selection of songs appropriate for the audience and event, the backing track mix that has to be made, the technical aspects of stage set up and sound equipment that I execute and the promotion of and maintenance of my personal brand throughout the partnership with whoever's booking me. It's not and never has been "just go up on stage and play." And the thing is, of course I and any musician could do that. I can easily throw together a quality performance on the spot if asked, but even then, you're paying for my 12 years of experience that has allowed me to do that, not just the 10 minutes of entertainment that you get out of it.

I went to the Cornell Fashion Collective's fashion show this weekend, and again had the same thought in mind. While it was easy to pass judgement on the outfits being modelled down the runway, all I could think about was the creative process behind it. It was easy to say "I like that outfit, that one's weird, or eh, I'd never wear that" but behind each outfit is a designer's hours and passion and experience that culminated in that expression of art. To me, appreciating final products that we see, especially those of a creative nature, means appreciating the process. It means taking a step back and realizing that what you see is only a fraction of what's really there.

I say all this to say that the next time you look at a piece of art, watch a Formula 1 race, or even listen to a song on Spotify, remember the process. Think about what went into creating what you're consuming and take a moment to appreciate that someone has worked behind the scenes to produce what you enjoy. Appreciate the fact that a final product is a product of labor and oftentimes love.

Furthermore, appreciate this final thought - think about yourself as a creative product, and appreciate the experiences that have defined your own creative process. Think about how each of your mistakes, successes and memories has contributed to who you are today, and appreciate who you are today as a result. Appreciate your own process and give yourself the grace to realize that we're all still a work in progress.

Until next Sunday,

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I enjoyed this weeks blog. Well written. 👍

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