Drinking Coffee, Staying Up Late and Taking Breaks
Whether you’re a vocalist, producer, musician or engineer you’ll be faced with a cliche stereotype with an unorthodox routine. The sort that likes to work late into the night, wake up late (and moody), and probably partial to snacks and weed. It’s a cliche because in all honestly its true, but that doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t oppose the norm. Regardless of what we might think cliche’s tend to make us less unique, and in the case of the musician a hell of a lot less efficient. Our artistic lifestyles may hold some importance when sharing common opinions with a fellow comrade at a gig or studio, but are they actually helping us to make, write or mix more music? Over the 10 years of my own professional career in music I’ve had to learn the hard way. I hope that by sharing this information with you (knowing of course that everyone is different) it may shed a little light into your darkened and smokey studio.
Don’t get me wrong, I love coffee. I’m half Italian so it would be weird if I didn’t. There is something magical about what it does (same for tea of course), but there is also a very jaded side to it. Drinking coffee alters your state of mind in a way that you may not notice. The changes are small but they affect the way you listen and your ability to relax. Being relaxed in the studio allows you to think more clearly, and get the ideas down in a constant rhythm. When relaxed, you will feel the movement of the music, the interlacing melodies and the balance of the instruments. Coffee changes all of this; when overly caffeinated your mind is on hyper drive, decisions become erratic and unnecessary. Commonly what happens is one adds a surplus of melodies and rhythms which clogs up space, or when mixing, levels and balance are lopsided. Now I’m not saying a little coffee doesn’t help yawns lessen, but you can’t force creativity by fuelling it with a quadruple shot espresso. Take a power nap, but no longer that 30 minutes!
Staying Up Late
Nothing screams “artist” like a 3am studio session. Late studio sessions can be great; no one calls or texts you, its quiet and generally speaking there is little distraction. Personally I used to love working late into the night but I never found that the night was the problem. The morning after (even when completely sober the night before) the studio hangover would drop kick me in the face. The day is a write off and you end up feeling lethargic for far longer than planned, only to be countered quadruple espresso. Every so often that late night session is where the magic happens, but going against the grain and treating the studio sessions like an ordinary 9-5 working day usually stimulates more productivity. I personally think that it has something to do with daylight. No one can deny that a little sunlight brings happiness, unless you live in London of course in which case I suggested you start taking pleasure in the grey clouds and irregular rain. I can respect that for some of us it isn’t always possible and working in the evenings is the only choice we have, so in that case ignore me. Otherwise try and stick to a routine with the odd late night showdown and see if it adds a little more flight to your flow.
You may think your track is the next big things because of your 12 hour-straight mix down session but chances are, if you’re not used to long sessions or new to the game your ears and mind will be too. With out short taking moments to reflect and relax, its very hard to listen to things with a fresh perspective. How you spend your breaks is up to you, but we suggest some fresh air, away from a screen and away from any speakers. A good 5-10 minutes every hour ought to do the trick. Come back to the studio and listen out for what might need changing. Sometimes a good day/night away from your track will help you realise whats missing or where you’ve gone wrong. Ears fatigue far more quickly than we think, especially working at loud volumes (which we are all guilty of). When you feel a dip in concentration, take a step outside and give your mum a call; she misses you.
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