Procrastination

I’m finally on the ‘home straight’ of a track that started out simple, and has ended up taking ridiculously long to finish.  I’m basically at the stage now where there’s two significant things that need to be done in addition to mixing and general final polishing… ‘decorating’ the build/peak points of the track, and adding all the incidentals.  Even though these two tasks should be straightforward, I’ve been subconsciously dodging them for the last week or two… and I’m now at point where I’ve done every other minute (and occasionally unnecessary) tweak to other parts of the track in an inadvertent effort to avoid them.

Today I consciously realised that I’ve been side-stepping these tasks for days, and after some thought the reason became clear.  Both of them are time consuming, and a little tedious… often involving listening over and over to small sections of the track and making repeated small changes to automation curves.  It’s a ‘routine’, rather than ‘creative’ process… I can clearly envisage the end point I want to be at, but unfortunately getting there requires a lot of time, trial and error, and repetition of the same task.

Interestingly, before 2016 I often experienced similar procrastination when trying to come up with new ideas for tracks and parts within tracks.  However, now that’s a process I usually enjoy… so it made me think about what’s changed.  I think it boils down to 2 main things…

  1. A lot of the procrastination around coming up with new track ideas stemmed from a fear of failure… i.e. fear of the disappointment of spending a lot of time trying things, and not coming up with anything good.  Now though, I really look forward to and enjoy discovering new ideas.  My experience during 2016 proved on numerous occasions that I could come up with ideas that were way outside of my expectation, imagination, and perceived limits of my own ability.  The fear has been replaced by a curiousness, and almost an excitement about what kind of ideas I’ll discover, that I can’t imagine right now.
  2. My understanding and knowledge of the instruments I’m using has improved a lot… not only can I experiment with more ideas in a shorter time, but I have a greater ability to think about a way of manipulating or creating sound, and then actually realising that sound through the equipment (i.e I’m better to being able to audibly create sounds I can hear in my head).

So I’ve eliminated procrastination in writing new material, but it’s still slowing me down with more routine tasks.  I think it boils down to what I touched on in point 1 above, and can be well explained using the following analogy… Coming up with new track ideas has become like going on holiday to a country you’ve never been to before… you don’t know what you’ll discover, but there’s a fair chance it will be new and exciting, and even the process of getting there is often an adventure.  Conversely, creating incidental parts is a bit like doing the weekly shop for a big family… the end result is not particularly outstanding nor exciting, but is necessary… and the process of getting it done is lengthy and a repeat of something you’ve done many times before.

So what’s the answer to avoid procrastinating? Unfortunately I don’t have any easy nor groundbreaking solution… what needs to be done can be easily interpreted from a quote I heard many times from former mentor (and i believe variations of which have been used by Lewis Carroll, George Harrison and others)… “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will do”… i.e the best thing you can do is just make a start and get moving.

I guess I’ll leave it there… I’ve got shopping to do.

Advertisements

Getting Comfortable With Your Environment

I’m back in Sydney for the lead up to Christmas, and using the last months of 2016 to try and turn some ideas into finalized tracks.  Today was my first day working in my ‘other studio’ (i.e. the spare room of my families’ house)… and although I’ve bought all my key pieces of gear with me (PC, audio interface, mic, Volca synths, etc…), I’m back to using my old monitors, and ofcourse in a different room to what I’m used to.  These two things are fairly fundamental differences on their own, but what surprised me working today, was how much smaller differences can disrupt your inspiration and workflow when you’re used to working in a routine process and environment.  Looking back, when I left Tokyo last week, I’d been working in the same physical place, and developed a routine over 6 consecutive months.  It surprised me today how much I missed small routines that make up the working day producing… going to the convenience store to get a coffee, going for a quick break at a cafe etc.  The options for a lot of these breaks and routines outside the studio are very restricted when working in the outer suburbs of Sydney as compared to the centre of Tokyo… for example (as I found tonight) finishing work at 9PM and expecting to go around the corner for a quick beer is not an option.

I was surprised also, how used to and comfortable with my monitors and room sound I had become in Tokyo.  I’m back now with my old monitors which have a significantly different frequency response, and a room which is unfortunately square-shaped and has some really serious null points in the bass frequencies.  I had developed a lot of confidence for trusting my ear, especially when applying EQ… but found today that I had to make changes very cautiously.

But, a change of environment is not all bad.  I’m a big fan of using natural percussive ‘found sounds’ as part of my tracks, and after one day of being surrounded by new, random objects which could become a percussive sound source, I’ve already got several objects I want to sample, and ideas for how to build tracks around them.