The Time of the Crush (or: Alchemy for Beginners…)

I am writing this at 06:34 in the morning.  I have just finished a recording session and am getting ready to do an edit.  This is, without a doubt, the craziest and most intense period of my life I have ever experienced…


I generally get up around 3 in the afternoon; then I meditate and get straight into studio work.  About 11 at night I grab a nap on the floor of the studio, bounce up, make coffee, meditate again and get into recording.  I’ll go until around 5 or 6 (whenever I start to hear the cars whispering past my window), then I’ll edit what I have recorded.  I usually hit the sack around 9-10 A.M.

The results have been really good.  I am not too sure about the health implications of doing this long term tho.  I think the first thing I may do when the record is released on the 31st is grab a nap. 😉

But I am continually breaking new ground, simply because I have to.  This is the real worth of the process for me.  Over the last month, I have discovered new and better ways to do almost everything that I do with music.  It seems that, even if a problem looks insurmountable, if you are really locked in and committed to delivering something, a solution will inevitably present itself.  This knowledge alone is worth it’s weight in gold.  I am doing things now that I literally could not do 3 months ago, simply because they need to be done.

Everybody has their own way of dealing with stress or pressure, most have a variety. I think that, when faced with stress, humans naturally either want to repress it or escape in some fashion.  But the mystery third option is to use the energy to do things that you couldn’t normally do.

I have had a few ‘moments’ over the last few months.  I think that this is inevitable when you set yourself such a big goal.  But, invariably, whenever I feel the possibility of stress, it is because I am focusing on the end result rather than the process itself.  Even tho my body is ragged, the process remains a constant joy.  It is where I am able to find the most peace.  It is, in a very real sense, my sanctuary.

The pieces are settling into place.  The record is still evolving, but is also, definitely, solidifying.  Sometimes I hear little flashes and they blow me away; sometimes, I hear something that sounds truly like my own music.  Hearing these things is worth any lack of sleep, any crazy schedule, any hardship to me.  I would happily break my body over the alter of the record for this.  It is beyond price.

I wouldn’t trade it.  I don’t wish that it was already over.  It is a beautiful place to be.  I like the deadline.  I like knowing that time is finite.  I like the focus and the pressure.  If you said to me that I could have more time, I would say: ‘no thankyou’.

I am very happy in the crush.

[13 days until release] 😉

My name is James Radcliffe and I am a 100% audience supported independent artist.  If you like what I do (and can afford it) then please consider buying some of my music.  Each purchase really makes a big difference to me and 10% of every sale goes to a charity which: houses, feeds, clothes, and educates orphaned children in Nepal.

Also, every month I send out a newsletter packed with Interesting and Exclusive Things.  If you sign up today you’ll also get 3 FREE tracks of my music as a welcome gift.

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And lastly, if you’d like to find out what I’m up to on a more day-to-day basis then here is my brain on Twitter:


    1. First, sorry for the late reply, I am just back from some time away.
      Second – Thanks a lot for the heads up, it is duly noted and I’ll see what I can do to correct it. Thanks a lot for bringing it to my attention, all feedback is really appreciated.
      More power to you,
      – J

  1. i wish onto the world that each one of us, as co-creators to this world, takes, at some point in our lives, an inspired and guided time as yours now, even if it could be just for a short while.. because i believe with my whole heart that this is where the magic manifests.. the kind that shifts us into a higher vibration, collectively.

    thank you.. for sharing your music AND for ‘listening’ 🙂

  2. Amongst the suffering, catastrophe, and tragedy, Music, like yours, makes the world a blissful place.

    Light and love.

    Thanks for sharing your music and your story

  3. Stress never feels like stress when you are doing something you love. It may be exhausting but the sense of fulfillment balances any negatives. You have to grab the moments when inspiration is riding high or you may miss the very essence that makes you who you are. Best of luck with your music but know that you have placed a piece of yourself in the writing and producing of it so that makes it special.

    1. Thankyou very much.
      I really agree with you about this. I think that there is a prejudice towards comfort that is sold as a natural inclination for humans whereas I think the truth is closer to the fact that: hard work for something that you are passionate for is an absolutely necessary human activity.
      Thanks a lot,
      – J

    1. Depends on where in the world you are I think… 😉
      I live in Edinburgh so today is the 30th, release day is tomorrow 😉 I am really looking forward to it.
      My record is crazy and beautiful and chaotic and full of light. I am well pleased.
      If you check in on it – let me know your thoughts,
      I hope you are well,
      – J

  4. Hi James – we were just having this conversation in Psy class….stress as a motivator. I had mentioned that there are some who function best under the crush.
    Not a bad place to be – your process to a dream achieved. Who would want to skip that?
    Crush on 🙂

  5. Thanks for liking my blog post! Thank you for your words. It’s exactly how I’ve felt the past few months trying to release my first single and music video. We have the same release date! YAY! Cheers! I’ll be sure to check out your album! 🙂

  6. I really appreciate your thought process on a third way to deal with the stress that is apart of our lives through the energy it produces. Your words are true, as I too find peace in the energy it provides. As well I set goals very high and focus on the end result. I continue to work desperately to teach myself new ways at understanding life. BTW I never really understood Alchemy, but that is probably a personal issue haha.

    1. Hey there 😉
      Thanks a lot for your kind words – The idea around alchemy was that you could take a base (worthless) metal and thru a super secret process transmute it into gold. So, for me it’s a kind of metaphor for taking the things that most people consider negative (stress etc), and, thru correct processing, turning that energy into drive (gold), and using it to go deeper and further than you could without it. I think that a lot of people consider anything uncomfortable to be negative, whereas I believe that the process of growth and reaching your goals involves learning to become comfortable with discomfort. I hope that makes sense 😉
      Be well always, nice to hear from you,
      – J

      1. I would agree (great description), and yet how often do negativity and uncomfortable go together. Often I think, but rarely every pulled aside to analyze how to turn it into a positive energy as you so well described. Looks like if I keep working at it I will have a LOT!!!! of gold 😉

  7. Excellent post. Deadlines do offer an opportunity for growth that is otherwise out of reach. I wish I faced them as gracefully as you do, though. 😉

      1. Meditation and Lots of Coffee is going to be my next workshop title! I throw the word ” alchemy” around a lot in Yoga class, encouraging oxygen as the driving force of this transmuting process while they are moving through the asanas, I have them stay dialed into the right brain and out of left brain. It is a practice and a process and the distillation comes out in there savasana or meditation at the end, which I call FREEDOM, which I feel is our journey back to our original breath. I like the Idea of adding in that we can choose to over ride the stress into breakthroughs towards our goals! Good Luck Crush! looking forward to hearing the GOLD

  8. I think you’re amazing that you can work that hard and then still find time (and energy) to blog. I need to buck up somewhat in that department! Good luck with the release – hope all goes to plan and you succeed in bringing your “baby” to life. Thanks for the “like” on my blog 🙂

  9. You are overloaded with comments here but I won’t let that deter me. I’m in the finalizing stages of self-publishing my second novel and I can totally get behind the way you describe the amount of time and energy this final stage of bringing a work of creativity to the public realm can entail. Good luck 🙂

    1. Thankyou very much. 😉
      I’ve often wondered how the process of writing a novel would differ from making a record. I think that the energy and work is probably very similar, the difference would be craft.
      Well done for the first novel 😉 And good luck for the second.
      – J

    1. That’s really cool – I’ll have to check it out.
      I totally think that stress is an misunderstood beast. Did you know there are two different words for stress? Di-stress, and Eu-stress. Most people only know the one… 😉
      Well met my friend, thanks a lot.
      – J

    1. More than welcome – and you should be proud. There are 2 streams of demo’s that I wrote for this album on the Sounds page – and the album is going to be released here on the 31st. I’d be interested to hear what you think.
      Hope you are well,
      – J

    1. I am really glad you got something from the post. I believe that the themes you mentioned are very important, if not vital to living a full life. Thankyou very much for your kind words,
      I wish you well,
      – J

  10. I’m jealous that you’re able to chase after your dreams. Seriously you have no idea. I”m 27 and I’ve finally come to the point where I can be honest about my artistic ambitions. Yesterday I sat my bosses down and said art administration isn’t my life’s goal, I’m unfilled and on the hunt for what makes me come alive. For me that’s the theatre and performing arts. I may have lost my job. I’m in the process of planning my next steps carefully and finding out how I can live, move and breathe my passion and survive. Life is too short not to right?

    1. Life is FULLY too short not too. 😉
      Well done. Really, really, well done. That is a big step to take.
      I am totally a fan of the theatre and performing arts.
      I’m glad to have met you. Keep the momentum!
      And let me know how you get on. 😉
      Best wishes,
      – J x

  11. I’ve worked with quite a few musicians in the very near past and each one was an experienced. I have such respect for them and their individualized creativity. As soon as I get the chance, hopefully today I’m going to file through your music and get a feel for it.

  12. Cannot wait for your album, your hard work and joy are infectious ! My daughter and I were browsing thru your posts and she turned to me and said “mumma, you can feel his passion for his music” and I completely agree ! So happy you were able to push yourself and find your productive space, fear keeps many people from achieving their dreams, and it is so great to hear how far you have come in the creative process. Much luck to you ! 🙂

    1. That is a really, really lovely message to get. Thankyou so much.
      I am very glad that you and your daughter got something from what I do, it means the world to me. 😉
      You have brightened my day,
      Hope you are (both) well,
      – J

      1. Thanks! I started it last night 🙂
        I’ve been wanting to do it for a while now. I hope it goes well. Fingers crossed.
        Thanks for the feedback. Let me know if you think there’s anything I can do to make it better!

        1. Totally – more power to you.
          As for advice – I’d just say, try and make everything that goes up the best it can be, make sure it has value.
          If you focus on that, should be good 😉
          I’ll check in, when I can,
          Best wishes,
          – J

          1. You’re awesome. Thanks for the advice. I’ll keep it in mind. Like wise, I look forward to checking in with your content and listening to your music! My sister and I do music as well.

            🙂 Breanna

  13. 10 more, soon to be only 9 more wake-ups… very cool. I love that you are embracing the beautiful stress called A Deadline. I actually found myself lost on the first day after 52,000 words in 31 days.You live with something, eat it, breath it like this for a month and it becomes a way of life. I think devoting yourself completely like this brings its own energy that can feed us in ways like nothing else can.
    There is also something to be said about anticipation.

    1. There is indeed. 😉
      I think that deadlines are misunderstood little things – if used correctly they can totally bring out the best in us.
      I have no idea what I’ll do on the 31st, probably tinker with music, and chat to people about the album. At the moment, I’m really looking forward to it. 😉
      – J

      1. My pleasure~
        *✿*.` •.¸.•´*✿*• .¸¸.`•´¯✿★ ° . . ¸. * ¸ . ●   . ☾ °☆  . * ● ¸ . ★ ° :.  . • ○ ° ★  .  * .      .   °  . ● .   ° ☾ °☆  ¸. ● .  ★  ★ ° ☾ ☆ ¸. ¸  ★  :.  . • ○ ° ★  .  * . .  ¸ .   °  ¸. * ● ¸ .    ° ☾ °  ¸. ● ¸ .  ★ ° :.  . • °   .  * :. . ¸ . ● ¸    ★  ★☾ °

  14. It’s great that you have such a positive outlook on deadlines and use the time of the crush as a source of motivation rather than stress. I find that setting a deadline is a great way (if not the only way, sometimes) to really get a move on something, especially when it’s a goal primarily based on self-discipline. I find when I have to answer to someone else for the work, I have no problem pacing myself and doing what needs to be done. But when it’s only myself I’m answering to is when I’m in serious danger of letting things slide, so good for you for sticking to the deadline you set for yourself and giving all your energy to fulfilling this goal. Best of luck as you finish this last leg of the race!

    1. Thanks so much. That means a lot to me. 😉
      I feel that the mysterious power of the deadline 😉 is misunderstood in our culture, as is stress and a bunch of other things. The common perception is, I think, that all discomfort is a bad thing. I don’t necessarily think this is true… 😉
      Thanks for stopping by, and for the words of encouragement – they are gold dust at this point.
      Be well my friend,
      – J

  15. There is bad stress and there is good stress. Deadlines and time constraints tend to be good stress, for me at least. If they are tight deadlines, they force me to turn off my internal editor. That has led to some of my best work.

    1. I don’t think I am going to break myself – but I am pretty far over the line. I was like: ‘There is a line there, I think the other side of that line is where you break yourself…” – then I crossed it, and now I’m like: “well, not broken yet…I wonder where the real line is?…’

                    1. It’s nice to see your comments in my breaks. 😉
                      It’ll all get done I’m sure. everything is under control. 😉 I wrote the last lyric last night, it is quite sweet.
                      How are you doing? Well done on writing the thing by the way.

                    2. Are we saying sweet here in the “Dude, that was sweet” sense, or rather “Aww, that’s so sweet”? (I personally only use it as the latter 😉 )
                      I am average. Neither good nor bad.
                      Haha, ‘well done’. I wrote like two words 😉 Though, anything is better than nothing. I’ll get back into the swing of it at some point..


                    3. ‘Sweet’ in both senses. I make words WORK for me 😉
                      Two words is good. Any words is good. Have faith (tho, I guess you have faith, so I’m kinda preaching to the converted here)
                      I am working on a piece as we speak – it is coming together slowly. If I can polish it right, it will be beautiful (it’s beautiful to me already, but I still have to polish it). It is kinda unusual, but then, that’s probably the thru line of this album 😉
                      Big hug, Yeti

                    4. Then maybe we should swap and you can be the writer. Though I’d be a pretty cruddy musician so maybe not 😉
                      Ha, well you can preach if you so wish, you’ll just be wasting your time somewhat. No need to talk to me about faith 😉
                      Even the most beautiful things need to be polished every once in a while, but I’m sure you can do it ‘right’, as you say.
                      Hey, nothing wrong with unusual 😉 Loads have people have called my story unusual..

                      Are you okay? I can’t remember when it was, but the other day I got the vibe that you weren’t feeling all that great. I may have been wrong though! (which wouldn’t surprise me, as I’m forever wrong)

                      Aha, yeti squeeze! x

                    5. Um, I think I am ok. 😉 At the moment I am talking to everything, which usually means I’ve been up for a little way past complete sanity, but apart from that, all seems to be good.
                      This project has had surprisingly few troughs, just a bunch of peaks.
                      It’s nice to know that you were thinking of me tho, 😉
                      Yeti Squeeze Received. 😉

                    6. Haha, yes, feel flattered 😉
                      I spend most of my life talking to inanimate objects, and I have no excuse. Does that mean I’m constantly insane? Probably. Join the insanity club 😉 It’s a right laugh over ‘ere.
                      I could be incredibly pessimistic back to that and say ‘what goes up must come down’, but then I could also be optimistic and add ‘unless it has wings’ 😉

                      Fly away x

                    7. I’m cracking up here. UNLESS IT HAS WINGS, I said. And then I said ‘Fly away’, implying that you have wings. So don’t start that, matey 😉 Also, you said a minute ago that you were NOT on your way to tap dancing, which makes a liar 😉

                      The sheer nerve right back at you! 😉 x

                    8. Hahaha, well is that surprising given we so love our ETERNAL THREAD conversations? 😉
                      That’s fabulous though. Made my day. I shall treasure this badge forever 😉 x

  16. You followed my blog and now here I am following yours haha ! Your passion and dedication are impressive (it seems I’m not the only one to think so :P) and I wonder what kind of record this will be ! I like all styles of music, from electro to classical, from rap to rock and from soul to pop. I dunno what kind of music yours is, but I have high hopes 😉

  17. We have full confidence that you are honoring your creative process as you need to. Very excited to be able to hear the results of your “final crush.” Only great things can come from a man so passionate about his art. 🙂

  18. I’m happy to read, that your work with the music make you feel alive. That is important. I think, that you way with meditation help you to find the peace in your inner self. This is so very good to avoid the negative stress. The positive stress is okay.
    I’m really looking forward to hear your music. Just go on.

    1. Did you know there is a word for positive stress? ‘Eustress’, (As opposed to ‘distress’).
      Not many people know the word… I wonder why… 😉
      I really enjoy your little messages, thankyou,
      – J

      1. No, I did not know that word. Is it only used in UK or generally in English?
        English is not my first language, why I also make some mistakes, but hope people read it positive anyway.

        1. I am so jealous that you speak more than one language.
          I had no idea english was not your first. To speak more than one tongue is a beautiful thing. 😉
          It is a real word, but it is not, by any means used commonly.
          And your comments read as massively positive, they are a joy 😉
          – J

  19. We speak the same language. Good copy, and, uh-huh – I know what you mean.

    “Sometimes I hear little flashes and they blow me away; sometimes, I hear something that sounds truly like my own music. Hearing these things is worth any lack of sleep, any crazy schedule, any hardship to me.”

    There goes that muse again….

    Right there, don’t stop….


    1. Thanks so much. It is totally from experience! 😉
      It is 6:30 here and I am still editing, but it is SO GOOD 😉
      I am glad you liked it, and I hope that you are well,
      Have a great day,
      – J

  20. James your realization that “Doing things because they need to be done” really hit home for me. This is juncture I find myself at. Thanks!

    1. You are very welcome. I am glad that it served you.
      In my experience, when you are truly committed, things just show up. It’s a little weird, but it seems pretty constant.
      Good luck in whatever it is you are doing,
      Hope you are well,
      – J

  21. Great work mate, and whatever time of the day you are most productive should be the best time to work. But… and there’s always a but… Beware of long term wakefulness There have been studies linking diabetes with shift-workers, particularly night-shift – have a quick look at; – On the other hand if you can get sufficient quality sleep more than five to six hours you will probably do OK, and the worst effects of sleep deprivation seem to be in older people. Still worth bearing in mind. I’m looking forward to hearing the final result of your work. Tony

    1. Thanks a lot Tony 😉
      It is really nice of you to be looking out for me. I do take care of myself pretty well, (apart from the crazy sleep), and it’s only for another 2 weeks.
      But your concern is greatly appreciated.
      Thankyou my friend, I hope you all is well with you,
      – J

    2. Great thoughts on dealing with stress and reaching your full potential. Sometimes we don’t realize what we’re capable of until pushed to our limits. Your dedication to your music is extraordinary, and I’m glad you shared it. Terrific post!

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