17 10 / 2011

Article - Dkon’s tips for creative success, an extract from excellent Create Digital Music interview with Dkon. Pretty much embodies the spirit of this blog all-in-one. Right on!


1. Less is more.
If you read nothing else in this article, read this. Having more options is not good for your creativity. Learn what you have, use what you have. Having a limited set of options forces you to focus.

2. You don’t need expensive stuff.
There are a lot of people who think you need to keep improving your studio, and getting the latest, most expensive gear in order to have the ability to be able to make something good. This is nonsense. From an economic point of view, the 800 EP cost me about $125 to make. (Renoise license of about ~$75, and I bought the 800 on Craigslist for $40). I made my first several albums (*Lost Subject*, *Greater Cascadia*, and *Mythology of the Metropolis*) with very limited means and equipment. Make do with what you have. Buy gear secondhand, but only what you will actually use. Use free or cheap software. Use free or cheap plugins.

3. It doesn’t matter what software you use.
There are so many DAW options now, but they all do basically the same thing. The only real difference is workflow. Pick one that appeals to you, learn it as you go along, and you will succeed. I have been using mostly Renoise for the past few years because I like the workflow and relatively simple interface. It may look confusing if you’ve never used a tracker before, but once you get the hang of it, it’s incredibly fast to get your ideas down, which is a major advantage. When inspiration hits you, the faster you can start working, the better.

4. Work around the limitations of what you have.
If something is limited in some way, use it to your advantage. Why do you think things like the 303 and 808 are still universally adored? They are both incredibly limited instruments, but what they do, they do very well. Using a more concrete example in my case, the Poly 800. It’s horribly tedious to program, but has a great sound and a lot of character. If it was covered in knobs and sliders, I don’t think it would be as appealing in a bizarre kind of way. The limited nature of the instrument encourages creativity.

5. Treat everything as a sample.
Especially in regards to software like Renoise. Find a sound on an instrument you like. Record yourself playing a few chords or a sequence of notes. Chop it up, sequence it, and rearrange it. Usually, if I do this, the sequence that ends up being used is different than the one that I originally played. Move things around, play with the pitch, change the envelopes. Being imprecise with your editing gives it a more humanized feel, without resorting to adding “humanization” after the fact.

6. Fidelity is highly overrated.
Do you think anyone is going to care if your snares are amazingly compressed and EQ’ed if your song is terrible? No. Making your music sound “nice” should be an afterthought. Focus on content, not gloss.

7. If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.
Making music, or art of any kind, should be fun. Treat it as play, not as work. Don’t think of what you want to make before you start – let the finished product reveal itself through your work. Dive in and explore without conscious thought.