10 ways to get back on track in the recording studio.

Idea - photo

Writer’s block, distractions, lack of energy, inspiration and goals can all make your day at the studio a drag. Here are 10 ways to stay on target.

Coffee Mug - photo10. Drink coffee. The first cup of Joe I ever drank was when I was 35 years old! Can you believe that? I always assumed it wasn’t healthy so why start up with it? I flew to Malta from New York to perform a show and I was completely wiped out. The promoters of the event were waiting for in the lobby of the hotel. They were all sitting around drinking coffee. I really wanted to feel better so I ordered my first cup of coffee ever. First, to my surprise it tasted great. Next thing I knew I was awake and almost euphoric. I saw the light and my life has been forever improved. In the studio I find the best time to grab a hot one is right when your about start arranging. The five minutes to brew one up gives your ears a break and you get zapped with a mind boost right when you need it. Don’t break from music making while you drink it. Sip and move those waveforms around the screen. It works!

9. Pet your pet. We’ve all seen the famous website Catsynth.com right? There’s a reason all those felines are hanging in the studio. Somewhere between ten and fifteen tummy rubs your ears reset and are ready for vocal take two. Don’t worry if your the type of singer that needs Auto-Tune because Felix loves you anyway!

Cat on Synthesizer - photo

8. Listen to something very different. Four hours into any mixing section and your brain starts to believe it’s being exposed to a torture test of some sort. Stop and click iTunes open and then play the cheesiest, happiest song you can find. Besides realizing how much better any song you choose is better than the one your working on your brain will reward you with some new ideas.

7. Call your mother. Typically, phoning home lasts ten to fifteen minutes. Thats a perfect break time. Mommy’s voice will remind you of a time before you even cared about micpre’s. Whatever you do don’t call an ex-girlfriend!

Fresh Air - photo6. Get some fresh air. Studio air is dead, hot, electrified and stagnant. If there is a singer or band in the room then it’s usually also smelly air. Take twenty minutes and hang your head out the window. Better yet walk around the block. If you take the band with you it may not be restfull and resetting so walk alone. One thing to note: If you leave people in your studio be sure you trust them.

5. Keep pushing forward without any break. All of the successfull producers I know have something in common. When the going gets tough in the studio they don’t stop or take a break at all. The moment your most frustrated is the moment your greatest ideas will be appear.

Push Harder - photo

4. Turn off IM and emails. Bling: you got spam. Ding: did you see this video of Hasselhof vomiting? Zap: Just saying hi. Kill it all. Turn it off. Take those IM and Mail application’s icons out of your dock. There’s a time for work and play and no matter what you tell yourself these are playtime accessories.

G Clef3. Try adding a new melody. It’s easy to fall in love with the melody you start off with when producing a new song. However, chances are you can improve it or add variation. I repeatedly discover a big boost in excitement when making new notes work. Music theory is complex and magical so delve deep and you will be rewarded.

2. Dance. Studio work is sedentary work. While your imagining a nightclub of fans screaming as you yell back at them your actually just sitting in a room in front of a computer. Normally I would suggest a little exercise but your in a music studio right? Get onto iTunes and download someone’s scary Disco iMix playlist and make an ass of yourself. Shake it hard because after a few 70s club hits you will feel better and make better music for the rest of the day. It’s a fact.

1. Give yourself a goal. I used to get discouraged when I would go to the studio, start a song and then come home upset that it wasn’t completely finished. I began to track what I was getting done per day in the studio and realized I was actually completing big tasks. For example, in one typical day I would pick create the beat, melody, chorus and start fleshing the verses out. Thats quite a lot and something to be pleased with. With that knowledge and continued self examination I now know it takes me about eleven full working days to complete a song. Now I set release dates with ease and this gives me a sense of continued purpose in the studio. Without any goals your simply lost in music and sequencing. Having a plan is the best inspiration of all.

Goal - photo

photo credits: Cayusa, catbagan, rautiocination, kwerfeldein, Whisquissos, TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ and lifeshots

Published by

Oliver Chesler

"Hello my name is Oliver and I'm going to tell you a story." I have been recording music since 1989 under the name The Horrorist. I have released over 60 singles and 4 full length albums. To hear my music please go to: thehorrorist.com

10 thoughts on “10 ways to get back on track in the recording studio.”

  1. This is a great post! When I read this I said to myself “good god man, you’re not the only one out there!” GREAT feeling. These are good tips! I need to work on the goal setting myself, why is that we set the bar so high every day? I think I would feel better by keeping track of what I’ve accomplished each day.. Brilliant man.

    Coffee is nothing but great for the body and mind, and recent studies have supported this, so much, that 5 or more cups a day is recommended! When you graduate from drip, I highly recommend percolating some espresso. Less acidic, and only the best of the coffee. Same goes with traditional pressed espresso, also recommended. Think about it like olive oil; the first press is the best, hence our love for extra virgin olive oils.

    +1 for call your Mother, especially if she’s also a musician. Nothing can make you feel better than some good ol’ fashioned wisdom and grounding.

    ++1 for Keep pushing forward! Don’t stop… It’s soooooo easy to say ‘ehh, I’ll come back to that Idea’ or, ‘I’ll track that later.’ Nike really had something when they coined ‘Just do it’. Really, TRACK IT NOW. You will always feel there is a better time until you realize that right now is as good as it gets. Keep going, don’t stop. You always feel better at the end of the day.

    Dancing I do, but it’s always after I’ve made something to dance to. I should really take your tip on downloading something ridicules, and cutting some hard wood. (no carpet) :).

    I don’t have a pet, and perhaps I should examine this… Has it really helped? Hmm.. A cat will never work, unless I want to compose from a hospital bed… I do love Yorkies though… Hmm. Please chime in on this, anyone with pets in the studio. (think there’s a Gearslutz thread on this?)

    Word, dig what your doing here, it’s refreshing and nice to know that other people share this curse.


  2. I like to keep a “blowjob” girl close by to aid in the inspiration, or a USB mayonnaise sock. Really, great article, there’s defiantly a system and discipline involved.

  3. You sir, seriously kick ass!

    In the pas few days I’ve been absorbing your writings on this blog, and I find that I can really relate to your way of working & thinking. I tumbled across this place when I did some googling on the classic machines from the D16 group, but haven’t stopped reading ever since.

    I quote Aaron two post higher: ” When I read this I said to myself “good god man, you’re not the only one out there!” GREAT feeling.” This is a feeling I have when reading your stuff.

    So, besides having a seriously intriguing musical style, sharing your thoughts via this blog inspires me to keep on pushing my productions. Thank you!

    For those interested: there is a group buy on the Classic Boxes Collection from D16, price is now a mere E 100,- Be fast because the end date is near:

    ” Because of many users requests we’ve decided to extend the Group Buy period. The end time is 0:00:00 CET, Tuesday December 16th. “

  4. Hey,
    My Husky-mutt Kokum has been “involved” in many recording sessions. Strangely her preferred spot is next to the bass bin or the drum kit. I guess she loves the “womp”!
    However, one time she lay down under the desk and by chance turned off a power bar.
    This was not a stress relief as the monitors nearly turned inside out, and I lost work back to the last save.
    Dancing has also helped me out. In fact I am dancing right now.
    Great list, many thanks!


  5. I just started drinking Tea regularly. Green Tea for now until I can find me some ‘DoMatcha’. Coffee seems to leave me with an unsettling feeling in my stomach. Tea, from what I have read is better for the Alpha waves in your brain. Thanks for these tips, most are very inspiring and are going to help me a great deal.

    I have also been reading blogs from Matt Shadetek and Mike Monday. I have semi-recently given up smoking (i was a regular pot smoker) I have switched to a more positive and healthier approach to producing and creating. Anyways, these blogs and articles, especially your blogs oliver, have been a welcome addition to my fresh method to madness.

    please forgive my empty Myspace page, it is extremely new and not quite completely updated. Actually, for the time being I have decided to focus on my creative process and leave the self-and-shameless-promotion-thing alone for now.

    I wonder if you will even read this reply? ;)

    cheers O.C, many thanks mate!

    aka Recon

    Ontario, Canada.

  6. Did anyone else notice that five and six completely contradict each other? Other than that some useful things to jog our memories…

  7. I absolutelly AGREE with You, aside with all that hipster whoring this? is a great cig. I burn atomizer and reffil it with differetn liquid taste great!MOst of all its compact try to send your friend shot of some DFC you’re hunting with ego-t in your mouth standing on a street lites FFFFffffffffffffff….

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