Frustration. Pure and simple, sometimes when I’m working on music all it leads to is frustration. That feeling that I have an idea just below the surface, waiting to come out. I just need to figure out what it is, and how to express it, and then I can finally banish this feeling and all the wasted time it feels like comes with it.
But of course, that’s always easier said than done.
The last year has been incredibly busy for me on just about every front. I had a couple larger gigs, released an album and an EP, there was excellent growth for my mastering business, and I switched DJ platforms yet again (which of course means converting my library and all the work that goes with that). To name just a few things.
So I’ve known for awhile now that I was just going to hit that point where enough was enough.
Burn out. The lack of any good ideas, though in my case that still means a lot of work trying to come up with something decent regardless. I’m stubborn like that, even when I know it’s time for a break I fight the facts and keep trying to push ahead sometimes. If you haven’t guessed, “sometimes” just happens to be right now.
I’ve always been the type of person who had a running list of projects in my head, potential or real, that I wanted to get done eventually. Sometimes I’ll take awhile to mull over something I think I want to pursue, and every so often I realize it’s really not that good of an idea and I set it aside. But for the most part, the majority of my life is spent with this running project list on my mind. It’s not a bad thing usually, it keeps me pushing forward on things I’m working on, so that I can start work on what’s next.
But every so often, I tick off everything on the list and I haven’t been able to think of anything new to add to it. Like now.
One of my art teachers in school used to tell her students “if you can’t think of an idea, don’t just stare at the canvas, start throwing paint at it”. It’s not rocket science or a new idea by any means, but for some reason the way she said it always stuck with me. So a lot of times when I get in these ruts, that’s what I do.
I’ll just randomly pick a piece of gear or bit of software, and just start messing about. If after a couple hours I’m still not feeling it, I’ll move on and try something else. If I’m using software, I’ll switch to hardware, if I’m using the laptop, I’ll try the guitar. Or maybe I’ll change gears entirely and work on a new DJ set, or walk around town trying to record found sounds.
It’s frustrating as I said, because a lot of times despite going through the motions and spending a lot of time on something, it still ends up being crap. But eventually I think of something else to try, and I give it a go. And this can go on for weeks or months (if I’m really unlucky), but every so often it takes me only a few days to get back in the groove and start coming up with solid ideas.
What I realized was that by trying to just “throw paint at the canvas” as it were, I was inadvertantly coming up with new lists of projects in my head. The act of just trying random things to spur ideas happened to trick that part of my creative side into spending time thinking of new ways to be random. Trying to come up with new projects was in itself, MAKING new projects for me.
Still doesn’t make it easier to go through these periods of flailing about, looking for the right avenue to explore. But at least I know as long as I keep trying to find it, I’ll eventually make my own avenue anyway.
In other news, I just bought a Boss Tera Nova guitar pedal. It’s awesome, expect a review shortly.