“Sometimes the easiest thing is the hardest to do.”

Sometimes, when inspiration strikes, we are both unaware and unprepared.

 

 

Such moments often occur:

* Just before you fall asleep

* When you wake up during a profound dream

* On a road trip

* On a train or a plane where you cannot sing out loudly

* Last but not least…” TADA” – In the shower!!

 

In all the above scenarios, a phone/audio recorder and a journal are valuable tools.

Writing text ideas on the phone is obviously smart, but a writing journal can provoke a more intimate and immediate response.

Brain researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim have used a 256-electrode sensor hood to test brain activity of 20 students. The results show that we remember better/more creatively, writing with pen and paper.

 

Decide and commit to documenting your ideas using these handy and easy to carry tools. Be prepared when lightning strikes.

 

All the best from Eirin and Frank!

 

 

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It´s all about the heart!

As a sound engineer you go through the highly intellectual prosess of mixing and mastering with the ultimate goal of capturing the hearts of the audience. Even when you know how to effectively handle your DAW and various signal processors – bridging the heart and the mind can be a real challenge. It´s not, however, impossible and I have a «method» that I´ve applied lately to make this challenge a bit less challenging.
 
Balance your mix first!
Put on your intellectual hat and go through the process of balancing your mix. Basically start with the faders and then pan the different instruments to your liking. Panning, in particular, is often overlooked by beginners — that´s a mistake. Take your time and discover just how much careful panning can do for your mix. 
 
Time to process – aim for «perfect» rather than emotional
I won´t go into technical details on this – youtube is a great resource in that regard. In my case I always start with «corrective» eq to tame resonant frequencies. Then, depending on the instrument, I throw on one or two compressors (fast-slow or slow-fast). After this it´s time for some coloring, using the EQ of your choice. 
 
Automation
This can be a time consuming affair, depending on the song (and the band/musicians) you´re mixing for. Take your time and make sure everything is in balance, both within the individual tracks and within the mix. Leave out creative automation for now – concentrate on volume and panning.
 
Heart and soul
Take a break from mixing, at least an hour; then go back and listen through your mix several times without making any adjustments. Then take five! and listen again – this time with your heart. How do you feel when reviewing your mix. Do you notice any sensations in your body? What do you miss? For me, I try to think abstractly – closing my eyes and imagine colors, patterns, light and forms. Which colors are lacking, should some of them be stronger. Are there any patterns of breath and rhythm to the mix or the individual instruments that you´d wish to pronounce? How about the light and the forms? – What needs to shine, and when? – Are the edges too jagged or too soft? Let your feelings guide you. Don´t be afraid of experimenting – trust your ears more than the values on your signal processors. Go on some panning adventures – get crazy with filters and distortion – make those bus compressors really breathe… A great mix should trigger your emotions. Having the «perfect mix” might impress your stereophile friends, but if it does´t move you it´s, at best, a technical exercise.
 
Using this approach you can make most of your creative and emotional decisions starting on a good sounding, stable foundation. It has helped me – maybe it can help you too? 
 
Frank
 
 
 

Unlock your creativity!

As a songwriter you can´t always control when you get inspired, but the negative stories you´re constantly telling yourself about your own capacity to create; well, that´s really hurting your productive flow.

 

1) Stay alert and open for inspiration; a movie, a face in a crowd outside the subway, the melancholy you can tap into – thinking about someone you lost. We are like grass; it bends, but it doesn’t break. Accepting that you can bend a little more than yesterday is important as a songwriter. Don´t push the insight, but put yourself in situations that spark more ideas.

 

2) Control your time and realize that writing a song isn’t as serious as you make it to be. How many minutes each day is yours to use as wisely as you can? Do you have any favorite creative time – morning, midday or evening – you can reserve for songwriting a couple of times a week? Most people don´t prioritize the most important things, because we tend to choose comfort over uncertainty. “Someday” is just wishful thinking – the spark that’ll never burn.

 

3) Do you feel insecure? Guess what; the rest of the world feels it, too. Don´t underestimate yourself. Welcome doubt and fear as a friend you can write songs about. We grow fearless when we meet our fear, and all those who have followed their passion in life have felt the same lack of confidence as you. Guess what? They did it anyway.

 

4) The relaxation phase is crucial to a songwriter, or any creative being. When in silence – something mysterious happens once in a while; you seem to receive some kind of wisdom and clarity that seemingly appears out of nowhere – you are in contact with your creative source; collect as many ideas as you can when in this state, and you’ll have plenty of material to work on until the next “awakening”.

 

6) If you’re in a creative rut, try to go through ideas you’ve already recorded or written down. Do you have a verse you can develop, some chords that sound good, a great guitar part that haven’t found a home yet? Turn the song around a little bit, maybe a song with a chorus could be a verse/refrain song? Try different rhythmic syncopations, sing over bar lines, make interesting harmonies between bass and vocals – there are many ways make something coherent and interesting out of a promising, but incoherent start. Many great songs have been created by experimenting.

 

Stay creative!

 

All the best from Frank and Eirin

 

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