You need to release yourself of any expectation of what that material should be. Just start letting it be what it's naturally evolving into, even if it means just pulling words out of the dictionary and laying them one after another. Words are everywhere.
When I was a junior in college I moved to New York and went to this performance school the Experimental Theatre Wing. We had singing class and again, some of the other students would cry when I was singing, and I really didn't know why. I started to realize that there was something in the tone of my voice that was evocative for them.
I went to New York to be where the beautiful people were and it didn't disappoint me. It's so open. It's a great platform to do your own thing or start new things. When I got there, I started living for the first time.
I was about 17 or 18 when I first started performing in public. I had a teacher when I was a freshman in college and she came up to me afterwards and said she had been crying while I had been singing, and it really shocked me.
I think, with music in general, people just inevitably connect with feeling. The opportunity to hear expressed feeling. That's what has always drawn me towards music. It's something where, by connecting to someone else's voice, I feel less lonely. I feel more alive. I feel more connected to the world and to the rest of humanity. Sometimes a voice can be like a lifeline.
No matter how public your work is, it's just a relationship with yourself. And you have to create a little sacred space inside yourself to treasure that... because when you die, that's still what you have. It's what you're born with and what you leave with. It's kind of a story of the way you accompanied yourself through your life.
I just feel like [creativity] is a reflection of the world around me and I don't think you can divorce yourself from that. So I don't really think in terms of, 'Do you still have it?' Even if I was doing something new, I think I would be engaged in the same process.
I think what everyone can do is start creating spaces and forums, talk to peers, friends and family, and start deconstructing these things we take for granted, unpack these old systems, in order to understand ourselves more deeply, to understand why we do the things we do and how our privileges affect other people's lack of privilege.
I think what really separates artists from the rest of the world is that artists feel like they have permission to keep exploring and expressing their process. Most people censor that because they don't think it's good enough. Everything is measured against this patriarchal hierarchy of value, as if one person's singing voice is more important than another's.