My Creative Sabbatical: The Importance of New Perspective

By Dennis Padula — July 1, 2016

I have a love/hate relationship with New York, the city that I’ve called home for almost twelve years. Upon graduating from Syracuse University with the “useful” degree I received in music, I moved here for the music business, the big-city lifestyle, the many friends I had and most importantly for the inspiration. As it turns out, it inspired me so much that I almost exhausted it. This year, I learned that significant time in a different environment brings new perspective and a new flow of inspiration. Music, as with any
form of communication, needs a broader perspective to grow, to reach more listeners.

Being a songwriter, I find it’s important to stay fresh, stay current and find unique ways to express myself through song. Every year I take a trip to Los Angeles to take advantage of (besides the nice weather) the opportunities the city has to offer in the pop-songwriting world. Each year the trip gets more and more saturated with networking opportunities and productive meetings.

This year, I was gratefully able to step away from my position at dna Communications to spend six full weeks in L.A. It was the longest I’ve been away from New York since 2004. I wanted to immerse myself in an L.A. songwriter’s life and experience what it might be like to live there. My future musical success depended on it.

In L.A., I kept consistent with my New York routine, but I found myself profoundly affected by the change in environment. A run on the boardwalk in Venice Beach, where I often stay, versus a run on the Central Park loop can make a huge difference in the creative process. In fact, I’ve even written a song on the beach in Venice, called “Escape.” It’s bright, fun and catchy — a stark contrast to the sassy, moody (yet often fun) songs I write here in the big City.

Before I left New York this time, things were going well, with bigger and better performances in some of the bestmusic venues in town and exciting writing sessions leading to some of my most artistically pleasing songs. But it wasn’t enough. I needed to go further. This last trip has taken me there. It has brought me to a bigger, stronger level of creativity, giving me new song ideas, new ways to write them. It’s given me a more centered existence, one in which I can better contemplate my approach to creativity and appreciate the inspiring things both cities have to offer. I’ve allowed my time in L.A. to be a part of my New York path.

Artists, creatives and, yes, even communicators must evolve to stay current, relevant, fresh and exciting. We constantly have to bring new ideas to the table. And new perspective can help generate new and better ideas. You have to spend a little bit of time in the sand and on the concrete in order to open your heart and allow the flow of new thoughts to become your best output. You don’t need to pack your bags and move out west to find this perspective, but your heart and mind always have to be open.

I always start my writing sessions with a conversation that offers me inspiration. I inquire about my co-writer or co-producer’s lives. What are they up to? Who are they meeting?  Are they in love? Are they sad or happy? Have they been anywhere cool and interesting? Great ideas can come from anywhere, but without a shift in the universe, a little bit of sun, a good story, a bad relationship, or even a life-changing bottle of wine, you’ve got nothing.