In general, inspiration can come in many forms, most often when we least expect it.
You may already have a bunch of tips that help you find inspiration when producing, so I hope you can add these to the mix and get back on track.
1. Loosen The Grip On Your Mind
If you occasionally beat yourself up for not coming up with something the way it sounded in your head, you’re not alone. The way we hear things in our mind and the way we interpret that thought into our music are nearly always going to be different. This IS a good thing. Allow your inspiration to come through your music in a way you weren’t expecting. It keeps it interesting, fresh and can spark a lot more inspiration.
2. Start Before You Think
Often referred to as “on the fly”, being spontaneous can sometimes kick-start your imagination in a big way. Dropping in a random loop, off beat percussion or quick melody and building a track around that regularly leads to something worth saving. Sometimes, getting stuck with a particular sound, VST or genre can quickly demotivate you in making another track.
Remixes (and bootleg remixes) are great ways for producers to gain some attention. They are also great for breaking free from the ‘freak out’ that can come from seeing a blank canvas. By challenging yourself to remix you will inevitably fuel your inspiration and at the same time learn how other producers construct their songs.
4. Humour Yourself
Got Cheese? Humour is a great way to break up an uninspiring production. Open a new project, lay down some random samples and add some humour either in the form of funny recorded vocals or cheesy sounding synths. Sure it may not be a track you ever show anyone else, but it might just be the kick* you need to jump into the next project with a clear mind. *Pun intended
5. Lay It Out
Some producers may struggle with melodies, while others may struggle with the layout of a track. Whatever your hurdle, laying out a track from another artist you admire may just help you overcome that obstacle. While I don’t recommend copying another artists work, I do recommend gaining inspiration from the way in which they have crafted their sounds, started their breakdowns, changed the riffs and fleshed out their layers; Which may help you get past those technical issues that can block creativity.
6. Enjoy Your Production Space
Most artists will tend to have one main space to which their productions are born. Allow this space to be a place that inspires you and invites you back each time. Some will find the addition of the Internet to this workspace to be a freeing move which can help break up studio time comfortably, especially in the track rendering down-time. Other additions may be open window lighting, controlled darkness, sound-wall padding, plants, supporting chair and (monitored) alcoholic beverages.
7. Don’t Do Anything
How often have you forced yourself to create something even when you haven’t been in the mood? Producing is a very complex process and can occasionally be slowed to a halt with forced creativity. If you don’t feel like making any music, then don’t. While there are moments when you may need to push on through regardless of mood due to project time constraints (#Tip 2), creating a track when your mind isn’t there can often do more harm then good; Leaving you frustrated and annoyed which can alter your positive perception of your production space and musical abilities.
8. Time Constraints Are Good
If you have managed to gain a project with time constraints, think of yourself as a lucky one. Many producers ( usually including yourself at an early point in your career) would love to have the opportunity to be asked by labels and other producers to create original and remix productions for them. Essentially, it’s the next step up from producing tracks and sending them to labels in the hope that they listen to them, let alone sign them. If the time constraints are really eating at you, it might be best to go back to Tip #1 or #2 or contact the label/producer and coming to an alternative arrangement.
9. Allow Yourself The Freedom To Change
Most people do a variety of different projects at any one time in their lives. The same goes for producers, who often pick up the ‘cousin’ craft of DJing. Participating in another activity that occupies your mind for long periods of time can often alter how you produce; Sometimes making it harder to create new tracks. This situation is perfectly normal and may just mean that you are putting inspiration into your other activity and it may take a little while to get back into the mind space needed for new productions. To counter act this situation, you may just need to play out Tip #2 or even #7 until you decide which path should take precedence.
10. Listen, Watch and Attend
Listening to new music, Watching music videos and Attending gigs, concerts and festivals should be a must for every producer. Opening your mind to ‘research’ via the Internet, or in the physical world will impact directly on your productions. As humans, we often emulate what we hear and see, and as most productions fit to a certain style based on genre (Kick, Snare, Perc, Instrument, FX) the visual and aural learning can only benefit your mind and concepts. Add to that the rapid rise of the digital producer taking his productions to a LIVE show purposely blurring the lines from bedroom producer to live act.
Hopefully you will find these tips useful for your own productions as I have.