Like with any creative work, writer’s block can be a very frustrating and demoralizing thing for producers of electronic music. Many artists spend hours and hours wrestling with their ideas just trying to come up with something new – but what if what you were looking for was already under your nose? What if old tracks that you thought weren’t good enough to release were actually the seeds of something brilliant?
I’ve found there are many practical ways for electronic music producers to beat the writer’s block and jumpstart their creative process. Recycling old tracks is a great place to start.
Generally, producers might make between 5 and 10 tracks before stumbling on the one that they love. But then, we’re also our own harshest critics! I’m not going to address the tracks that don’t even get done as we all have a huge collection of those.
The truth is that each song has something cool in it, even if it’s not good enough for release.
Elements (or “stems”) of old songs, whether it’s a kick, a bass line, a loop, or a vocal sample, can be remixed and made into something completely fresh.
It’s important to remember that remixing is the most accessible part of music production. Reusing stems, loops and parts of old tracks instead of starting fresh can kickstart your creativity and help you jumpstart a new song. This isn’t just about saving time. More importantly, it will make the creative process less intimidating and more exciting by allowing the creative juices to flow more freely. When you start with small ideas, bigger ones follow.
Pulling your inspiration from old material can also be a fantastic way to re-appreciate your own work. This will in turn boost your confidence and momentum as a producer.
To get you started on recycling old tracks, here are a few tips to think about:
- Organize all your music projects in the same folder. This will make going back and reviewing old tracks easier. Avoid the temptation to sort tracks into different folders depending on how good or finished you think they are right after creating them — and never, never trash them! You might be surprised later at what gems you’ll find that you had written off or forgotten about!
- Save your effects and synths as presets. The key to being an efficient producer is to never let your creative time and energies go to waste. Nothing is a more valuable resource for an artist – don’t deprive yourself of these resources, harness them! Building up your bank of presets will save you from always having to return to square one, and it will encourage you to develop your own distinctive sound and aesthetic over time. I also encourage you to create groups/macros in Ableton as a way to have personal tools.
- Open an old song and keep all arrangements as they are, but swap the sounds. For example, you can import the stem of a kick you did from a certain song, which has its variations and moments of silence or its own structure. Then you combine it with the snare-clap of another track. Removed from their original context, united in a new canvas, they might interact in a way you’d never have thought to do on your own.
Recycling old tracks can be an extremely practical, effective, and (most importantly) fun way to beat writer’s block and take your production to a dimension you rarely visit. It will make you feel less stale and more fulfilled in ways that will surprise you, and it will encourage you to develop new styles or rhythmics.
Give it a try!
SEE ALSO : Is My Song Good ?