How Can I Be Creative? 7 Questions with Brant Menswar to help find your “OOV”

Many industries, but especially architecture and design, demand creativity. Its core to achieving business goals and meeting client expectations; it’s also key to who we are as individuals and a community. But where do you go, or what do you do, to come up with something truly original and, well, creative? Does it require deep introspection? Exploring your surroundings? Connecting with other people?

Brant Menswar, front man of the Americana band Big Kettle Drum, author of Rock ‘N’ Roll With It: Overcoming the Challenge of Change and partner at Banding People Together, says it’s all about finding your “OOV” – or your original own voice. The musician has made it his mission to help people of all walks of life and business around the country (including our own Bentley sales team and design clients) become more collaborative and creative.

We recently asked him some questions, and in return, he offered us a few tips to finding – and fostering – creativity.

  1. Where does creativity and inspiration come from?
    Developing your OOV is a journey of finding what truly inspires and speaks to you, and then writing yourself into that narrative. For me, music was always my calling. As a child of the 80s, artists like Prince really defined my childhood. It was his compulsion for creativity that made him a true rockstar and made me want to copy what he did. It starts with finding that inspiration and using that passion to begin to develop your own thoughts and ideas you want to express.

  1. Can you give us an example of how individual inspiration fuels creativity?
    In the music world, we see all the time with “sampling.” That is, taking part of one song and adding a bit of yourself to make a new song. You’re so moved and inspired by a song that you write yourself into its narrative, but you’re moving it forward and taking it someplace it hasn’t been yet. That’s how we move towards complete originality.An example of sampling is the song, “I’ll Be Missing You” by P. Diddy. He takes The Police’s hit, “Every Breath You Take,” but draws from his own narrative (the death of his friend B.I.G.) and turns the song into something new.
  2. What advice would you give to others who want to be more creative?
    First, let go of perfection. (For someone like me, that’s a difficult task!) Perfection has devastating consequences because it’s not attainable. We are all imperfect. We need to pursue creativity without the chains of what we think it “should be.” We need the freedom to be imperfect.Second, you must be more collaborative. Collaboration breeds creativity. When you’re collaborative, you’re inspired by others’ suggestions and you’re spawning new ideas.

  1. Why is collaboration so essential? Whether you’re in the design industry or another industry?
    When we cowrite with other songwriters, or collaborate with other designers, we do it because we want different approaches. We want to combine the strengths of everyone in the room to produce something that’s never been written before. Collaboration starts with self-awareness. What kind of collaborator are you? What type of collaborators do you work with? Knowing the strengths of your team is the first step to being collaborative and producing something creative.

  1. Who do you follow to stay in a creative mindset?
  • Jessica Katoff– Poet who is raw and emotional
  • Carla Olson– Producer who has worked with former Rolling Stones guitarist, Mick Taylor
  • Larkin PoeSister duo who plays rock ‘n roll
  • Original Grain – Wood and Steel watch company bringing new designs to market
  1. In your book, Rock ‘n Roll with it: Overcoming the Challenge of Change, you talk about how to approach change and develop your own original voice in the process. Can you share some examples?
    We’ve all had to deal with change – whether intentional or unintentional. The most powerful changes we make are born from our values while honoring our feelings. Approaching change begins with understanding and owning our personal values. Once we have done that, we can begin to make decisions that allow us to live our purpose. Only then can we begin to develop our OOV.We present three different strategies for approaching change:The Cover Song Approach: Every musician learns her craft by playing someone else’s song. Playing a “cover song” is like using a roadmap; the chords and lyrics have already been written, and the melody is established. The pressure is minimal because you don’t have to start from scratch. Thus, the Cover Song Approach for change is low risk and produces a reliable reward. The ease of following a pre-constructed plan makes it an effective first step.The Sampled Song Approach: The process of taking a familiar piece of a cover song and using it to create another song is called sampling. When a musician has mastered a cover, he can then alter it in a way that makes it his own. When we use the Sampled Song Strategy to approach change, we rely on the familiar part of a cover song to serve as a comfortable foundation on which to build. By adding our contribution to the mix, we raise the risk and accountability slightly, but we also hope to increase the impact.The Original Song Approach: Taking an idea, a melody, and a lyric you have thought of and combining them together to create something completely unique is the process of writing an original song. It allows you to express yourself in a way only you can. The Original Song Strategy to change requires vulnerability as you engage your Own Original Voice (OOV). This strategy is high risk as the accountability rests squarely on your shoulders. However, the results are the most impressive and have the highest impact on us personally.An artist will use all three of these types of songs to effectively engage an audience and we need to do the same when we engage ourselves in change.
  2. What would people find most surprising about you?
    There are so many things! They might find it most surprising that I:
  • Can live on just peanut butter and jelly (and not complain)
  • Collect watches
  • Played the school bully on Nickelodeon’s “Welcome Freshman”
  • Lived in hospital for 263 straight days with my son who successfully beat cancer
  • Am an ordained pastor (found and pastored church for six years)
  • Was voted best dancer in high school
  • Broke several baseball records in the state of New Hampshire
  • Have owned more than 50 cars


For more information on Bentley’s CEU-accredited events with Brant and Banding People Together, read Interior Design’s coverage here.



Bentley Mills Inc. is the largest commercial carpet manufacturer in California proudly operating out of a LEED®-EBOM Gold manufacturing facility. Sitting on the corner of Don Julian Road since 1979, Bentley is deeply immersed in the culture of Los Angeles. For more than 35 years, Bentley has defined design, color, quality, and customer service within the commercial design community and carpet industry.