Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Is It Soup Yet?

When recording and producing music in the studio, quite possibly the hardest decision to make is when to let go of a track and call it done. We, meaning Gravity Kills, were possibly the worst at this. Mr. Blood Studio was filled with all of the bells and whistles that you can possibly imagine when it came to producing the type of music that we were doing. I would spend countless hours playing with keyboards and listening to drum sounds or loops. You always felt like there was one more spice, bit of magic, crazy element or smidgen of rock and roll dust you could sprinkle on a mix to take it to the next place. We also had no clock ticking in our studio so we basically had all the time in the world to endlessly tweak the mix. When I talk to you guys, I know that I am not the only one in that seemingly lonely boat. I even saw a recent post on facebook by a very well known artist that talked of not knowing if something was done or not until the mix was pried from his hands and ended up on the retail store shelf. When I commented on his post I put "Art is never finished, only abandoned." A quote by Leonardo da Vinci that Doug started using very early on with Gravity Kills. You and I both know that this is beyond true, especially if you have your own home studio. I have sat for countless hours recently on tracks that for some reason I will not commit a direction to. I find myself working on a drum track and when I look at the clock, I have spent 2 hours dealing with a fucking snare drum. In 2004, Barry Schwartz released a book called "The Paradox of Choice. Why More Is Less." You can get the jest of his book by reading the Wikipedia article. In a nutshell, we become paralyzed by choice at times and since we have so many choices, we are quick to de-commit to a direction when that direction becomes slightly challenging. Maybe this is a fact of modern living. Choice envelopes us seemingly at every turn. Maybe the answer is to limit your choices in the studio? Pick 3 synths, 3 drum kits, 2 bass sounds and 2 guitars sounds. Clear your palette. Create the track from the basic and save your sonic experimentation when you have perspective and a clear direction for the track. It's hard to see the forest when you have too many fucking trees. Maybe I need to read my own fucking blog. I know what my soup is supposed to taste like. Let's make some fucking soup.


  1. Another thing that might help besides limiting yourself in the studio is setting artificial deadlines for tracks if your work does not have a specific due date. I find that deadlines are often the best "soup nazis" as it were, since you have to be done by a specific date. Even though I am not writing in the same genre as GK, there are still an infinite number of choices to be made and you can easily work on something for 10 months that becomes 10 years.

    We all know how well those pet projects turn out when artists refuse to let them go... I am looking at you, Brian Wilson "Smile" and Guns 'n Roses "Chinese Democracy"

  2. Joseph,

    Kurt actually created a recording schedule for the first record. Without it, the "story" never happens. Unfortunately, we didn't do that with the last 2. Deadlines are good.


  3. As a musician...
    what I've leared through the years is that...
    less is more.
    Deadlines ARE good!
    Limiting yourself is good!
    Limits make you more creative in many different ways.

    take care!


  4. The paradox of course is that even with deadlines, we have endless creative choices to meet them.