August 21, 2019

The third voice – the magic of collaboration

Emmy Lou Harris has collaborated with many (perhaps even most) of the great recording artists over the last 30 years in the country/folk rock space. She said, “When you combine two unique voices it creates a third phantom voice.”

I know what she means. My most important collaboration is with my wife Franceska. We’ve often observed that our relationship is something distinct from the two of us – there’s me, there’s her and there’s the relationship. Taking care of the relationship is as important as looking after ourselves. As we’ve understood that better, our relationship has developed into something that grows better with the passage of time and effort. It is the greatest joy in my life.

I have a wonderful collaboration with my brother Bede. We’re 18 months apart and not much alike. We’re quite competitive, though he’s more competitive than me (we even compete about how competitive we are). But we create a third voice when we play together. It happens when our voices blend so well that it sounds like there is a third person playing, or when we just know what the other is going to do inside a song and are right there with it – even though we’ve never practiced doing it that way. That third voice feels like magic.

I have an extraordinary relationship with my business partner Ryan Castle. I’ve seen lots of business partnerships, and I am grateful every day for ours. We don’t get to spend a lot of time together which is probably just as well because when we do we quickly get on to opportunities and innovations. Every now and again we have to impose moratoriums on new programmes. Again, we’re not much alike but the combination and contrast generates a wonderful creativity.

These great partnerships have one thing in common: in each we have deep shared values and principles about what we’re doing. In a sense each partnership has its own culture – shared language, mutuality, common goals.  And all of them are developed and maintained by spending time together and working on the relationship, how we work together. This isn’t always easy. We have to be mindful of the differences between us – our different drivers, styles and habits of thought – so that we can focus on what we’re trying to achieve together. For the relationship to get the space it needs, we both have to let go of being right and doing it our way. And then the magic begins…

You can hear that magic on our Breakthrough podcast – click here

And you can hear (and see!) our music at The Jervois Wine Bar and Kitchen


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