Remember those Junior High dances?

Awkward city, baby. 🙂

I was that kid who really only danced on the slow tunes. And by “dance” I mean the awkward swaying back and forth without ever actually making eye contact with the girl.

Then there were the awkward comments from the well-meaning chaperones. If you were dancing a little too close to your date, they’d jokingly say something like “Hey, leave room for the Holy Spirit!”

Ah, adolescence.

So what can we learn from the ever-so-charming, zit-faced, slow-dancing, 13-year-old version of Joe?

Here it is:

Leave room for the creative spirit.

(See what I did there?)

You’ve heard me stress how important planning is to the recording process. We call it “pre-production.”

It’s where you plan out things like song tempo, arrangement, etc.

I’ve explained what pre-production is. Let me tell you what it’s NOT.

Pre-production is NOT an all-inclusive process.

Think of it more as a framework…a foundation.

You don’t have to have every single piece of the recording puzzle mapped out before you start working on a song. Sure, you want to have a direction, and I still think pre-production is muy importante.

But don’t forget to leave room for the creative spirit.

Always be open to new ideas during the recording process. Just because you “planned” everything doesn’t mean the song won’t be screaming to go in a different direction than you first intended.

That’s the fun part.

Have a plan, lay a good foundation.

Then LISTEN to the song, and let it tell you what to do next.

Yesterday my drummer Tim started tracking drums for my upcoming album. I can already tell you that the sound I had in my head for a few of the songs is going to be SO much cooler now that Tim has done his “thing” to them.

Tim’s drum parts are giving the songs shape, and they’ll really affect how I move forward with the rest of the instruments.


Are you stifling creativity on your projects?

Don’t do that.

Remember…we’re creating ART.

And as with all things artistic, there are techniques you can learn that allow you to focus MORE on the art and less on the technical stuff.

Compression can be one of those “bogging me down” sort of things on your projects.

Get a handle on it here…

…so you can get back to making awesome music.

Joe “Less Awkward Than I Was at 13” Gilder

  • Michael

    One of my recording motto’s is: “The song will tell you what it needs to be”. A song definitely can take on a different “face” than what the original idea presented. I have experienced this time-and-again, so I’ve gotten used to it.

    A real good example is the latest album my R&M group have completed – (Native American flute and guitar based music). The initial concept was to record an album of piano being the primary backing instrument. Well, there is more piano on this recording, but the initial concept is no where to be found. However, that’s OK with us because the album came out much better than “our” idea. The songs told us what they needed to be.

    • Exactly. Have a plan, but don’t be so stubbornly insistent on the plan that you miss out on something even “awesomer.” 🙂

  • Lo Mei

    “Remember…we’re creating ART.”

    What’s art? I just wanna entertain da wimins outa da pants.

  • So what you’re basically saying is that being good at recording gets you laid! 😉

  • This happens me all the time to the point that it’s annoying. I’ve started recording a song and by the time I’ve finished I’ve ended up with 2 completely different songs. Sometimes the recording process is the only place to find those parts of the song that don’t quite work e.g. The 2 guitar parts don’t sit we’ll together or the verse is to chaotic.

    But I suppose it’s better to fix it there and then than stick to “the plan” and regret it when the tracks finished.

    Makes a lot of sense, great post!

    P.s. 13 year old joe sounds like a bit of a ladies man

    James –