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Getting out of comfort zone

Or how to overcome writer’s block

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Please tell us more about «out of comfort zone» technique you mentioned in one of your previous posts. What does it mean, exactly?

David

Our brain seems to love patterns and keep everything under control. As a music producer, you know all of your tools, devices, knobs. But eventually, your workflow becomes a sort of habit: you open a DAW, add certain plugins, choose some of your favorites presets, and draw the same MIDI patterns. Or probably just copy and paste some project files from your previous tracks that worked for you well. That’s your “comfort zone”, everything is safe because you used to work this way.

Generally speaking, it’s not bad: you can speed up your routine and predict the result. If you use the same sounds or patterns from track to track, it becomes associated with your name and that is what some people call a “trademark sound”, or “signature sound”.

And that’s fine as long as you keep your music fresh and interesting. But from my observations, most likely if you’ll make 10, 20, 30 the same tracks, eventually they become dull and boring. Some producers call it a “writer’s block”, or simply a crisis.

The solution is quite simple: rather than go with a well-tried way, start with a totally blank project. Rather than do a scientific approach, try to go a creative way. Just to give an example:

  • Do you always start off your project with a kick and bass? Try to start with some melodies!
  • Do you always use Sylenth1 for your basslines? Try in some other synthesizer, preferably the one you have never used before!
  • Do you make music within a certain tempo range? Try to add ±5 BPM, or even make a track in a totally new genre!

I guess you get the idea.

Obviously, working in a new environment is much harder, that’s why I call it “out of comfort zone”. This approach forces you to experiment and try new things, and the outcome can be a pleasant surprise. My latest release on JOOF Recordings titled Surreal is a testament to this:

Such getting out of comfort zone experience works really well even beyond music production, like in many life situations. Don’t be afraid to try something new, be afraid not to try.

 76   2016   Advice   Personal development

Since 2015, I’ve run an advice section giving my experience and answering readers’ questions on music production, DJing, performing, marketing, management, and other aspects of the music industry. The purpose of the series is to spread knowledge and cultivate professionalism in the music industry. The advice series works simply: you send me your questions, and I answer them with a blog post when I have something relevant to say. Send me your questions via the form.

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