As an aspiring musician, the act of trusting yourself and your vision is not as easy as it seems. We face so many different outside influences that pull us in so many directions that it becomes difficult to cancel out the noise and just create. No matter where you fit into the music industry, it’s common to look at others for examples of what does and doesn’t work (i.e. who plays what type of sets live, what kind of energy they bring to the table, what they post on social media, etc). It’s difficult to ignore these factors when trying to shape your career out as you grow. However, each of us are unique and think differently, therefore we each have the capacity to really create something unique to ourselves.
I often find myself being overly critical while making music and thinking things like, “this is too heavy,” “this is too poppy,” “this is too chill.” In reality, these thoughts are just restrictions that I’m placing on myself based on outside influences. Self-criticism is natural and common for musicians and can be helpful—but there’s a balance. It’s great to really hone in on the direction you want to take as an artist. I just find it helpful to place as few limits on yourself as possible. Each restriction you adhere to could really hold you back from creating something beautiful to yourself. Even if you are unsettled with the direction your art is heading, maybe it is heading that way for a reason.
“When you sit down to make a song—whether you’re a singer, producer, writer, or instrumentalist—no one is going to have the same exact approach as you.”
When you sit down to make a song—whether you’re a singer, producer, writer, or instrumentalist—no one is going to have the same exact approach as you. I don’t have an explanation for why we all think differently when it comes to making music. I think it really has to do with past life experiences, musical upbringing and personal musical preferences. I like to think about it in terms of rap verses. Fifty rappers could all be presented with the same exact beat and create something different over it. Each person is going to have different melodies, flows and lyrics. This also applies in the process of writing a song from scratch with every single element added into the song and how it is processed. The smallest details—such as a change in chord progression, one snare over another, modulating the pitch of a lead or vocal, or drum patterns—can change the flow of an entire track. The combination of all of these elements and the way you hear them in your head are exclusive to you and is something to be proud of.
My interest in making electronic music started with my love for Skrillex in high school. I started making dubstep and various types of EDM and would experiment with a different genre and sound for every track. This was a great way for me to learn how to produce and understand how to get ideas across. However, a distinct turning point for me—which I believe really made me an artist for the first time—was when I didn’t try to sound like someone else and wrote a song without placing limits or restrictions in my creation process. The song I made was happy, bouncy, and chill. It wasn’t great and sounded nothing like Skrillex, but it was me, and that’s what mattered. After this experience, I made the realization that the way my brain works is something to embrace and be proud and not something to steer away from because I didn’t need to sound like anyone else. It has now been years since I’ve worked on developing that sound that naturally comes out of my head and feel good about the results.
“Understanding how I work and trusting that rather than trying to change it has made all the difference.”
I want to encourage other artists to embrace their process in creating songs. A person’s music is influenced by a combination of one’s unique experiences and cannot belong to anyone else. When you can overcome the noise and create without limits, you really open yourself up to creating something that is truly yours. Trusting yourself for your creative vision can be scary too, but I believe it is the most rewarding route to take. The most admirable artists out there are the ones who really stay true to themselves. It’s easier said than done, but true artistry begins with trusting yourself.