Let us tell you a story about a game of hide and seek. One between a music producer and her mischievous best friend, Inspiration. Now, Inspiration had grown devilishly skilled. He would find his mark before you could shout, “come out, come out,” and when he was hiding, he may just as well have been invisible. But after years upon years of play, the music producer grew cunning too, for she knew that as soon as she gave up searching, Inspiration would come a-knocking.
If you’re stuck in a creative rut and tired of going round in the same old loops, let our fabled dBs Music tutors be of service. With years in the business, both creating and teaching, they’ve frankly hacked the crap out of the inspiration game. From making field recordings to going to art exhibitions, read on for their tried-and-tested tips.
Philip Röder, a.k.a. Copilco / Copilco Productions
Producer and mixing & mastering studio owner /Creative Music Production & Sound Engineering tutor
“Inspiration often comes from limitation. I sometimes use field recordings of interesting sounds that I’ve captured on my journeys and run them through obscure effect units until I get a completely different sound. ‘Molekular’ by Native Instruments is an especially helpful plug-in for this technique. I think the most important point is to never try to force yourself to be creative.
If you want to be inspired, take a long walk through the forest and listen to the different sounds on the way. I also love going to art galleries like Berlinische Galerie or the KINDL museum for contemporary art. Both strategies help me to overcome writer’s block and recharge my creative batteries.”
Philippa McIntyre, a.k.a. DJ Philippa
DJ and producer /Electronic Music Production & Performance tutor
“I believe in having a work habit over and above the power of inspiration – if I waited around for inspiration to strike, I would probably never get anything done! I am at my most productive when I’m in the daily habit of doing two to three hours’ work first thing in the morning. Mornings are great as my brain is fresh; I find that it’s easier to make creative decisions and hit flow mode before the stresses of the day kick in.”
Charlie Baldwin, a.k.a. Cocktail Party Effect
Producer and performer / Electronic Music Production & Performance tutor
“When I’m stuck for ideas, I like stripping down my workflow; for example, just using a kick drum to make a whole track or grabbing a piece of gear from a friend for a week and only using that. Limitations allow good creative growth for the brain. And always remember, don’t think, just do. Or get a cat.”
Producer, composer and synthesist /Electronic Music Production & Performance tutor
“To me, making music has a strong meditational aspect. The music I make these days is calm and quiet, so the process also includes some kind of retreat from real life – which is quite enjoyable! There is also the aspect of construction and deconstruction, especially when you patch up a modular synth. It always reminds me of playing Lego as a kid. Great fun!
The places where I find inspiration are also quiet places; that’s why I love going to museums and art exhibitions. I’m especially interested in colour field paintings – names like Klein, Rothko or Newman come to mind. Those paintings are somehow like good ambient music; looking at them briefly might put you into a certain mood, but the longer you study them, the more interesting they become. I also like photographers like Thomas Struth, whose photos, mostly presented in a super-large format, have a similar quality. Travelling without moving, I think I find that very inspiring.”
Electronics and percussion composer and performer /Electronic Music Production Programme Lead
“I try to surround myself with artworks outside of music; paintings, theatre, and literature provide me with tonnes of creative energy. Sometimes, when I feel creatively stuck, I’ll sit down and improvise while recording the whole thing. Even if I’m not feeling inspired at that very moment, when I listen back, I’m guaranteed to find something in there that I want to take forward.”
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