Creative Block When In Lockdown

“Since 2015 I have built up an archive of, what is now approaching, 200 demos and song sketches.”

When the 2020 pandemic struck, rather than providing an impetus to use the new-found time to run wild creatively, I became a bit stuck. I had already tested the waters before Covid by releasing a few short, 30 minute albums on Bandcamp. My first steps into the world of DIY music were productive but tentative.

Improving my music production skills

Right now I am only just beginning to master the recording and mixing of music. That includes everything, performance, mixing and mastering. I will certainly use professional engineers once my funding situation improves. For the time being I am learning the hard way, through trial and error. This has often distracted me from focusing on creativity.

I am lucky to find the time for music. I don’t have a family and run my own digital design business. I have the skills needed in all areas, including marketing, design and even writing to some extent. The problem is that it is very hard work, managing everything. After design projects, admin and household chores, little time is actually left over.

Mental health in a pandemic

So the pandemic didn’t really provide me with a great deal of extra time. Though my design business did suffer a lot and I lost work. What happened was I found myself at a junction in life. As of writing I am 52, more time behind me than is in front. Still youngish, with a different outlook than my 20-something rebellious self. I need to mentally settle myself and focus more on what aspects of life really matter.

The Covid downtime has found me juggling between finding new clients for my design business and considering taking music a lot more seriously. I’ve also had to deal with the loss of my Dad, who died of Covid. I am quite pragmatic and like to make progress. With music I had to take a few steps back and assess the type of music I wanted to make.

Eliminating social media distractions

I understand the digital world’s need for a constant flow of “content”. So perhaps I’ve been burned slightly by social media noise and its short attention span. I can knock out quick music everyday. I could drip feed the over-saturated stock library market with more Muzak. And probably make a few quid. I have explored this option, though it feels phoney.

Blues and Greens is a polished sketchbook, and has ended up somewhere between an LP and an EP. There is more ambitious music to come. I am learning to be more patient with creativity. I am also a lot more confident in my production skills. I am really pleased with the guitar work. The recordings are actually quite minimal and largely improvised.

I am not a skilled digital engineer and use the DAW workstation as though it were a fancy tape recorder. In that sense, I retain the magical aspect of discovering new sounds. But I largely focus on the music itself, the chord changes, the interplay of each instrument.