Sometimes it’s better to live through someone’s work than the person themselves, and to realize that every human being is flawed, but through art they can be perfect.

Despite what the “Facebook version” of your friends might lead you to believe, we are all a little broken inside. As Leonard Cohen famously sang, there’s a crack in everything and that’s how the light gets in. Fellow Canadian artist Emily Haines has a similar perspective, except she also recognizes that art can be greater than the artist. And it is through their art that artists can achieve perfection.

Perhaps it is through her unique upbringing that the Metric lead singer arrived at such a conclusion. It’s not wholly accurate to call her just a Canadian either, as she was actually born in India to a couple of American parents. The arts run through her blood, as her father Paul Haines was a poet and jazz lyricist.

If you know Emily Haines, you likely know her from the Canadian indie-rock band Metric. In addition to her duties as lead singer, she also plays a pair of synthesizers, an electric guitar, a harmonica, a piano, and a tambourine. And she’s a songwriter too. This multidisciplinary approach lends itself to the eclectic sound of Metric too; each album doesn’t quite sound like the last.

And she’s a member of Broken Social Scene too.

As an artist, you are constantly working on honing your craft. What can you do better? How can you be more creative? Does absolute perfection require absolute sacrifice? Maybe. Maybe not. But that would explain how far artists are willing to go to stretch their limits.

I think every musician is different, every artist is different, and in a perfect world people would be able to pursue their own path and have the inspiration and the drive to, and the energy and dedication to take their path to its fruition. I don’t really believe in formulas.

As much as I tend to assign labels to so many other things, I have a hard time doing that with myself. I cringe when I try to think of myself as an “artist,” because I don’t feel I’m anywhere near the same league as masterful musicians, talented thespians, or outstanding sculptors. But I certainly agree with what Emily is saying here.

When you are trying to refine your own vision or find your own unique sound, you may be tempted to emulate the artists who inspire you. In doing so, you may start to believe that your path to success must mirror theirs… that’s simply not true. There is no formula for success and you really do have to find your own way.

The writing process is very much like being in a dark tunnel, and you don’t really know what you will end up with until you have created it.

Following that line of thought, it’s also true that the creative process is unpredictable. While you may think you’re headed in a certain direction, the final product could be dramatically different. And that’s okay. If anything, it’s preferable.

For my part, I’m always trying to achieve a sense of flow. Then, I ride that wave wherever it might take me. The human stream of consciousness can be an amazing thing. Is it ever gonna be enough?

Image credit: John Biehler