Monday, April 06, 2009



on Creativity and Inspiration vs Writers Block – The Chapters Album and EP's

If you eat your favourite meal every day for a month you will be sick of it by the end of that month.... I must have said that a thousand times to people when talking about how hard it is to keep something you repeat interesting time and time again.

The downside with becoming good at a specific skill such being a musician or producer is you have to repeat yourself many times before you really learn how to get things right. By sheer repetition you train your brain how to do things a certain way. You have to except the fact that this is just the nature of the way we work as people. As a result I think it would be safe to say most electronic producers have a specific sound and they stick to it. I don't have any problem with this in principle but I do feel that you need to step outside creative box if you are going to write an album.

A couple of years ago I found out what it feels like to completely lose the motivation to work on music. This had been the first time I had ever experienced this in the 10 years I had been living in London. The trouble I was having is that I had been repeating the creative process for the last couple of years. Off the back of my first releases under the King Roc moniker I started to receive work offers to do a few remixes. The great thing about remixes in the industry is you get paid straight away – something I find 99% of the labels I have released with are not so good at when it comes to sending you a royalty statement every 6 months. The down side to remixes is you have to be careful not to just roll them out for the sake of the fast buck. Having done a series of remixes in a row that I really put my heart into I suddenly felt musically flat. I no longer wanted to write club music because as I didn't enjoy the time in the studio. My obsessive passion that I had known for so long pretty much disappeared over night. I think in the following year wrote about 3 tracks and just lived off DJing. If it were the 90's I could get away with that but these days you must be releasing records because it keeps your profile up there on an international level. You could say releasing a record is like handing someone a business card – it is a tragedy to say this but it's a fact now - I believe.

So during this time I started to look at myself to try and work out where my source of creativity and inspiration comes from. This was when I realised that almost every track I had written in the last 3 years had been created in the same step by step process. That would be – Kick – Drums – Bass – Topline / Hook. Everything I had done had been written for the dance floor and I was sick of it. I knew I needed to get back into writing music for the song and not just the groove. This was when I came up with the Chapters concept. The basic plan was to create a platform that I can release music on that wouldn't need to be just 4 to the floor but could be more alternative. This gave me the opportunity to write music but not always start with a kick drum. Essentially I realised I needed to approach each track in a different to keep me interested. By alternating the creative process I found I would be more enthusiastic because there was so much more uncertainty about what the final song would end up sounding like.

This meant that I would make a very specific point to start some tracks with a melody I made on the piano or guitar and I would ignore the drums altogether until the core of the idea was laid down. Then on the next track I would do something completely different like starting with effects loop and sounds and build the rhythms using these rather than standard drums sounds and other tracks would start with a drum loop that I would make sound different by using samples or live percussion recorded I a mic to get a completely organic feel instead of electronic. Whatever would be the core of the track had to be the thing I would focus on first and foremost. The result of this process is I started coming up with songs that I felt had a real creative musical content and I knew this was important to make the final album something that would stand up on its own and be an individual record.

What I ended up doing was writing four EP's – or Chapters as I ended up calling them – and then using the best bits from all of those tracks to create and album that would be something I would want to listen to when I am at home or on my iPod. An obstacle that took me a long time to overcome was the fact that I don't listen to club music as home and so I knew I wouldn't want to do that kind of record. I hear and know of quite a few producers who see writing an album as a stepping stone to get more PR so they get more gigs. I understand this in principle but its just not what I feel an true album is about. Personally I think it makes for a crap listening experience if all you are thinking of is trying to write a bunch of club tracks, put them on a CD and call it an album. That doesn't cut it in my opinion. An album is the ultimate platform to express your creativity at that moment in time. It should be a musical journey full of variation. Who wants to listen to 10 club tracks that are all quite similar. The only people who would be into this are other DJ's – but what about everybody else?

So what is my advice to any other producers out there.... I guess I would say when you are next going to write a track in the studio, make a very specific point of trying something different. Try recording live percussion for once or forget about the drums and just work on the musical elements. Basically whatever you normally do – DONT. Do something different. If you normally write house music then try something different just to be creative for the hell of it. It will help keep your ideas fresh purely by the fact you are doing something different.


Anonymous mekinis said...

Thanks ;*

2:20 AM  
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