I like to think of this particular forum as a forum for failed musicians. Cheers me up a bit🤣
Failing is learning. Only if you give up.
Learning to fail
I think I understand what you’re going through, @Roger. To me it seems there’s a wide gap between where you’d like to be and where you are. That’s always a source of frustration, whether we’re talking about music, careers, sports, anything.
For most of my life I’ve had goals and I’ve done my best to achieve them but often I’ve failed to enjoy journey. Cos when I’ve achieved something (e.g. graduated from university, released an album), there’s always the question of ”then what”. In the past couple of years I’ve tried to learn a different approach. And also allow myself a lot more ”mistakes” than I used to.
To me it seems obvious that you have a lot of technical skills. However, from your previous thread (Creating a DJ set) I often got the sense that making music for you was often a series of technical problems to be solved. And once one problem was solved, there’d always be another one waiting for you. I’d find it very difficult to get into any kind of creative flow if I approached music like that.
I look at it like this. Even the fastest guitar player in the world only has two hands. There’s always limitations to what you can do musically. So next time you find yourself unable to bend your gear into doing what you’d like it to do, why not take the route that the piece of gear would more easily seem to accomodate? You might end up in a different place musically that you first intended but to me that’s the whole point of creating something new. Let yourself be surprised by the outcome. I can almost certainly promise that many of the surprises will be positive ones.
Next album, then the next one etc. until you die.
The No Gear New Year thread might be helpful to read, it’s filled with sensible comments and people resisting GAS.
I was on this treadmill for the last 4-5 years if I’m honest, pouring my limited music time into research, acquisition and endless varying setups instead of actually using anything I’d bought. It reached the point of losing interest in an item as soon as I obtained it, in favour of pursuing the next item. Very unhealthy behaviour!
In January I boxed everything up, sold a chunk of stuff and put 3 boxes back on the table, and haven’t bought or changed anything since. Can’t say as my creative output has gone up yet, still nearly zero, but I have at least stopped the financial and mental self-harm that was going on.
And then what?
Time is a flat circle
A lot of people complaining that their GAS is sucking their inspiration probably started making music with enough money to afford nice gear out of the gate. I started with a shitty 200€ bass and a shitty 300€ half stack, with one distortion pedal. I mean that’s not super cheap, around 500€ worth of equipment but lemme tell you, that was all I could afford and I was so happy to have that gear. Prior to that I always had to loan equipment. Played that setup to death and saved for an upgrade, then bought a really nice 800€ P-bass despite being young and really poor. I loved that bass to death & played it for a decade. Then slowly as I got employed, bought nicer gear while playing, recording and gigging as much as I could, with that shitty gear that got upgraded as I could afford it. Now I have pro-level gear, after 20 years of playing and I couldn’t be happier.
When you start out like that, GAS is a natural thing but it doesn’t get in the way of making music.
If you hit a Dead-End then you have to go back the way you came.
I totally agree. The A4 is a real box of delights. I had an AK and sold it for a Moog Subsequent 37 as didn’t really get it - only to then replace the S37 with an A4 mk2…2+ years later, I’m finally spending time with the A4 and discovering how deep it is as an all round bad-ass including an amazing drum synth.
The same can be said for many of the Elektron boxes
100% this. you seem doomed to an eternal wormhole of dissatisfaction. no one piece/combination of gear is ever gonna be the panacea of music production.
even if you find the perfect setup you’ll eventually get bored with it and have to repeat the process.
i liked someones comment (but couldn’t find it) about spending enough time with each individual thing to express yourself with it.
then when combining it’ll be more fluid than head scratchy.
Sometimes I think I was happiest making silly noises with my old Korg ER-1 and a couple of DS-10 pedals.
Rose tinted bullshit.
I startet with a chevy guitar making punk /metal, later when i was into psy i got myself a micro q and rack attack drum synth, i really hated the interface and it took me a while to learn it anyways. I sold it without regret, and bought abelton. i didnt use the push as much as i thought i would , mainly because one cant do everything on it alone, you reach for the mouse quick. NI Maschine was better in this aspect. So from that angle, i say make your setup compact so you can reach everyrhing quick, or automate the stuff that is not in reach. For sure i lived through several phases, but i still hold on my trusty chevy guitar its a nice instrument.
Being young & dumb was fun
From my perspective, a 2nd year electrician apprentice who makes barely above minimum wage and has 2 kids, GAS seems only an issue because I have no money and any extra money I have usually goes to life’s mundane expenses. Having no money has forced me to mostly go ITB with Renoise and all the free vst and samples I can find. I only own a M:S and no other gear because I’ve had to sell it all for one reason or another.
So when I reach full journeyman pay scale after my fifth year, you can bet I’ll be going modular and buying all the damn hardware I can get my hands on. GAS being a creative block is bullshit to me. It only hurts because I want new toys and I’m simply forced to endure it because I’m poor at the moment.
I think of it in a similar way… the majority of devices/tools I have are there to spark initial creative ideas and be part of that process.
I think if you stay in one box, and have to work specifically to that boxes boundaries/limits, then your music is less your own and more the sound/music of that box.
But, as said earlier, this comes down to intentions and expectations.
If you’re in it to have fun and entertain yourself making music, that approach is fine.
If you’re in it to express yourself creatively as an artist, and have a voice/style of your own, sticking to one box ain’t gonna cut it… you need more elements, and usually sounds that are personal/unique to you.
I read that bodzin did all of his drum sounds with the sub37, and just sampled the hell out of it. I think learning the instrument is key. He then created his custom interface to gig live, and he can also play the sub37 really well. So its worth to spend your time iterating what is important and what is not.
I think this is a legitimate workflow - if because of necessity or you are driven by a passion for sound design and synthesis. Otherwise, it would be a real drag.
It is fun, i have a Tempest and without the lust for designing sounds that thing dosent make much sense. You end up spending hours to design sounds, to be frustrated with its sequencer later. You could sell it, or sample the sounds and get over its limitation. I could have sticked to the A4 , but one has to try things, and some things are done clearly better on the tempest. (pink noise and not only white noise for drums is very welcome.) I dont know why elektron does not include different noise sources… still i love it for their nuances. The point is: love it for what it is and not for what it isnt.