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PRODUCTION MENTORING FROM A DANCE MUSIC INDUSTRY VETERAN
Working Clean, Serene and Productively
Top Ten Strategies for the Best Way to Work

There is only one way for the music to flourish and that's when you're committed and everything else is put to one side. Here's some things that I stick to that have helped me over the years.

1. CONTROLLED DAILY BURST

Sometimes I will go into the studio and just work on a kick for half an hour. Job done. That's me for the day. The point is, as long as you've got an aim in mind, and get the result you want, you are moving the track forward. And you're creating every day. Over time all these small sessions add up to a finished track and a mastery of your tools and craft.
2. CLEAN YOUR STUDIO AREA

It's been said that creative types love to work around a mess. Fuck that shit. Your studio space should always be pristine, dusted regularly and free from clutter. So there is nothing in your periphery. A studio is the nerve centre for your dreams. Machines need love too so keep 'em clean.
3. USE KILLER PLAYLISTS

Inspiration can come from anywhere in the musical spectrum. So spend time getting together some great playlists to give you a lift. Whether that be sound design inspiration, an examination of the classics or even just motivational Rocky-theme-style music to gee you up before a studio session. Instant inspiration in whatever form you need it. An isolated listening session to one of your playlists is a good way to get you ready before creating. Use music to make music.
4. UNPLUG THE WHOLE FUCKING INTERNET

Rip out the Cat-45 cable from the computer. Smash-up your Wifi router. Leave your phone in a lead-lined safe that you don't know the combination to. Whatever it takes. It should be you and the music machine when you're working. You have to unplug the big, sweaty distraction teat so that you can hear your musical inner voice again. Seriously, your phone needs to be in another room. Internet off. No excuses.
5. CREATE ZEN HEADSPACE

It might sound like hippy fucking bollocks but ... clean slate before you create. If you're having trouble doing this repeat the following mantra:

Forget my partner. Forget my ex. Fuck money issues. Screw politics. Omit the news. Forget my sad little life. Forget my insignificant existence on this blue ball. Forget the fact my life is finite and I will die. Forget the world on fire. Forget who I am. All I have is music. Music is escapism. Nothing else matters.

And keep repeating it until you have a clear mind. Or you can use the 'clean slate before you create' mantra. Or whatever works for you. But find a way to clear your mind.
6. BREAKS, BREAKS AND MORE BREAKS

There is always a desire to get something finished off, but listening to the same 3-7 minutes over and over again is like Chinese water torture for your ears. If you're working on a long session you should take a ten minute walk around the block every hour or so. When finishing a whole track, always leave it for a few weeks to mature, it's the only way to get a new take on it. And finally, if you're feeling uninspired don't feel bad setting aside music production for a few months or years and maybe put some time into that knitting you always wanted to pursue. Breaks are vital.
7. CREATE THAT SPECIAL-TIME WITH YOURSELF

There are always the external pressures of family, friends, work and music production can slip down that list in priority. Firstly, work out what time of the day you are most productive (everyone's different), and picking times with the least distractions. Then stick to your special time like a religion and release the immense pleasure of music production. Look, if you can make space for that most basic of bodily functions then you can make space and time for the joy of making music.

Me? I'm a mix-it-in-the-morning, make-it-hard-and-fast-after-dark sort of chap.
8. WHEN YOU'RE NOT DOING IT ... BE IT

You can't always be in the studio but you can always be in the right headspace by spending your entertainment dollars on inspirational, music-related downtime. Rather than watching the latest season of Netflix-whatever, go hunt down music documentaries on Vimeo or even Netflix. Go read. Yes READ! Books about music history, the psychology of music, artists biographies. And stop spending all your time with junk-food entertainment and crappy YouTube tutorial videos. Learn about the wider subject of music. It makes production less daunting and part of a bigger picture.
9. WORK AWAY FROM YOUR COMPUTER

Listening to your song whilst not looking at a screen, and in a different environment to your studio will help you feel the track in completely new ways. Ideas become clearer. Otherwise it's all snakes and ladders, spreadsheets on screen, and not actually, you know, music! By taking your music out into the wild it becomes less methodical and more visceral. So put your tracks on your phone and listen on headphones whilst going for a walk, taking a train, going to the supermarket, or doing the washing-up.
10. REGULAR SPRING CLEANING, DON'T BE A FILTHY HOARDER

Get rid of all your generic samples; it's a great way to hone your own sound.

De-install all those plugins you never ever use; it will lead to a more efficient workflow.

Go through all your musical sketches and delete the shite, that both me, and you, know you'll never get around to finishing; it will allow you to concentrate on actually finishing something decent.

You're not going to miss any of this shit, trust me.
Funk D'Void is a DJ and producer veteran with over 30 years experience. He has released records on Soma Quality Recordings, Outpost Recordings, ON IT Recordings, and Lost & Found. And has DJed around the world over the last thirty years. He now lives in Barcelona, where he plays table tennis and is here to out the next generation of talent.

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