Chug, Chugging Along

29 Nov 2021

Album Progress Report

Hola me gente! I suppose that if I start each post by copying and pasting from a previous post, then I guess it’s really easy to reuse that greeting, so here we are. I set a reminder in my phone to write this post a couple weeks ago, but things got busy and I am only just getting around to writing an update. The lag means that some of the topics I wanted to cover are not quite as relevant anymore. Of course, without my saying that, readers would be none the wiser. D’oh!

Difficulties

Shortly after my last post, I started a new job (same company, new role). I bring that up because it seems that ever since then, it’s been tougher to carve out some time for working on tunes for the album, even if it’s just jamming away aimlessly. It’s tough enough learning all the ins and outs of a new job role, but I’m also still handling a large chunk of the responsibilities of my old job (I’m working two job, mon!). Previously, I was able to sneak an hour here and there for music fun time. The days have really been packed lately, as I want to make a good impression with my new boss and all that yada yada yada. I was able to take the 3 days off ahead of Thanksgiving and I made sure to spend some time working on the album. In those sessions, I came away with what I think is a really badass intro / overture to the album. It’s nice when something really comes together like that. It really gave me a boost to keep going with this project.

Related to the above gripe of not being able to find time to work on music is not being able to find enough time. I get up and running and start to get into a solid flow, but then have to cut the session short (usually to start cooking dinner). It’s a bummer when that happens, but I have learned some workarounds. If the session is really fruitful, I will jot down some notes or ideas for the next time. That usually helps me get going again without too much time lost. Other than that, I’ve also learned a little bit about not getting too bogged down on minutiae, so I can keep the big picture in mind and move forward with each session. I do also think that my overall skills are improving too, so I am comfortable with piecing tunes together in this way. Remember – perfect is the enemy of good! The funniest thing about working in these short bursts is that I’m almost getting used to working like that. I am finding that if I do get an uninterrupted block of time, I still find myself running out of steam around 45 minutes to an hour in. I wonder if that’s normal though, for any creative endeavor?

Setup Solidifying

One thing that has really helped my productivity lately is the stabilization of my main music setup. A few months ago, I carved out one end of a bar we have in our multi-purpose room (really, it’s mainly our WFH offices) to make a “permanent” setup with my mixer, audio interface, MPC and palette eurorack case. There’s space left for a rotating piece, big enough for an Octatrack/A4/Model:Cycles. Around the time when I created this setup, I was seriously considering downsizing to one or two machines. I’m really glad I didn’t do that, though, as the mixer is great and I’m starting to get comfortable with its features. That’s the main point, I suppose, is that these machines take time to learn and understand to a point where you can develop some facility, as Darwin Grosse of the wonderful Art+Music+Technology podcast puts it. The decision to take over a small space so I don’t have to constantly load in and load out every session has really been a boon. Those minutes lost to setting up and tearing down really add up and get in the way of actual creative time. One side effect of this setup is that it has helped calm down the dreaded GAS that all music hardware (or any kind of gear-related hobby, for that matter) folks suffer from. I find myself less inclined to lust after the next shiny thing that comes out. That’s not to say that I’m immune. I just notice that I am much, much less distracted by it. I want to reach for something I already have to get an idea out. I have one tweak in work for the setup, mainly as an ergonomic and tidyness hack. I am going to build a custom fit riser / shelf that should allow me to tidy up the setup even more and make it more ergonomic and comfortable.

Next Time

I’ll try to get some photos of the setup as it sits now and after the little riser goes into place. I also hope to be updating with a progress report on the album. The goal is to post before the end of the year, but I’m not sure that’ll work out. December is here, and it’s usually a busy month.