I arrived back in Tokyo last week, and had my first day back into writing today, after about a two-week break over the new year. As I wrote about over the last few posts, for whatever I reason, I wasn’t 100% settled working in Sydney this time, and although I came up with a couple of good ideas, I didn’t progress through with them as far as I would have liked. It’s a bit strange, because it was the second period I had working in Sydney in 2016, and the first one was actually quite fruitful and productive.
However, getting back home and working in the place I’ve become accustomed to over the last year, it became more clear why I wasn’t so productive in Sydney this time… it broke down to 2 basic things… sound and comfort…
Sound, because I realised that I’ve really grown to know and trust the sound from my monitors and studio room in Tokyo. After a year of working on here every day, I just know how the sound will translate to the final mix, and after having mixed a number of tracks that I’ve been happy with, it just boils down to confidence, and the resulting speed with which you can make tonal changes and mix decisions. I just didn’t have the same confidence in Sydney… I knew there were a lot of parts that I couldn’t judge properly, and either kept changing them back and forth, or knew that I would have to fix them when I got home… and this led to everything taking longer, and a reduction in the ability to commit to a part and then move onto the next stage. The room sound was probably a big contributor this too… I blogged before about the uneven bass response in Sydney, and aswell I noticed on returning, as soon as I first walked into my apartment, just how much lower the ambient noise is here… likely it’s a lot to do with the construction (i.e. my apartment here is solid concrete on the walls, floor and roof, as compared to drywall and wooden floors in Sydney). OK, admittedly domestic construction materials are not the most interesting thing in the world to blog about, but are important from a producer’s perspective, as it makes a huge difference to the room acoustics, and hence how well you can hear what you’re working on.
In retrospect, the other big factor in my lack of progress was comfort. Sitting at my usual desk and comparing, I realised that in Sydney…
- Screens were too far away and too high… felt like they were ‘looking down on me’ as I tried to work
- Not enough leg room under the desk
- The chair wasn’t as comfortable
…granted these are small (somewhat ‘precious’) things in isolation, but together they made a big difference to the level of comfort, and hence I think my propensity to be creative. It was just nice today to slip back into familiar and comfortable surrounds, and in the couple of hours I worked today, I did as much as I would have in a whole day last month.
It’s fairly obvious that a good monitoring environment is crucial to your ability to mix and produce well (as I’ve now re-proven to myself), but moreso I’ve learnt a lot about the importance of subtle physical comforts in a space, and how it can really help or hinder your creativity.