James Dymond! One of the purest of the trance producing lot took out some time to type out this message to all the music producers out there. It surely is a very inspiring piece. Do give it a read! It surely will help you out if you are associated anywhere with the music industry!
***Attention all music producers****
I have written something very abstract but hopefully it will be either inspiring or motivating for you…. If you’re interested, please read 🙂
Also, don’t take this too seriously or read between the lines too much, this is based on my own experience. I am hoping you can take some of this and apply it to yourself!
I know this is going to sound super geeky and really quite obscure to some… but…
I honestly believe that when you’re in the studio and learning to produce, you need to go ‘Super Saiyan’.
WTF is ‘Super Saiyan’ you say?
If you’ve never watched the amazing Japanese Anime called ‘Dragon Ball’ (also knwon as Dragon Ball Z & Dragon Ball Super), then maybe that term would go over your head a bit.
The series is about a group of martial artists, fighting to keep the Earth safe from evil doers and anyone else who threatens their existence.
The main character called ‘Goku’ (who is an non-earth human race called ‘Saiyan’) is the main defender of Earth. He trains day & night in order to progress himself. Practicing and learning, honing his skills in order to ‘surpass’ his current level. He is constantly looking towards improving himself, not only body but mind.
What does this have to do with me and music?
I would say A LOT!
In no sense am I a martial artist (definitely not, I’m quite the lazy bastard), however the mentality I described above of pushing one’s self to improve every day is certainly something I believe in. This mentality, can be incorporated into music production.
A few years ago, I had a realisation. That although I believed the music I was producing was good, I have come to realise (in my own opinion) it was in fact actually quite generic. Yes, OK, I most likely had my own style in terms of music production & quality. The sound of my kick, basslines, percussion and main leads. I was producing good tunes, but nothing that really ‘defined’ me as a person and producer.
You could have the best production quality in the entire scene, but if your productions don’t have that certain special characteristic/sound/creativity/ideas/understanding of the music – then you won’t be able to stand out from the crowd.
Over the last few years, I’ve been pushing myself – my mind & creativity – to produce something better and better each time, something that is completely different and unique to the last track and to the rest of the scene. Producing something that doesn’t sound like the industry ‘norm’. Something that stands out, that has the emotional melodies we all love in Trance, something that isn’t just another generic Trance track.
Right now, I feel like I’m at the top of my game in terms of music production, that ‘surpasses’ all of my previous tracks from a few years ago.
In order to do this, I looked at what my inspirations were in music from my entire life and the current sound. I grew up on Classical, Jazz, Blues, Rock, Trance, Disco/Funky House, House, Electro House, Hard House and Drum & Bass.
Clearly, House music made the biggest impact on me. Which is why in a lot of my recent productions I’ve been incorporating old school 90’s style House vocals. Mixing that with my other main love, Trance, as well as my more recent love Psy Trance.
I’ve been producing for many many years. Technically speaking for the last 12 years since I was at school, messing around making Rock/Jazz versions of Classical and Pop music on the music notation software called ‘Sibelius’, as well as ‘Cubase SX’ (who remembers that version?!).
But realistically, I’ve had the serious mind set of producing Trance for 7 years now. Training my mind every day to understand how not only Trance should sound as a genre, but the technical aspect behind music production.
I spent months reading books on many different techniques… For example, how a compressor works (including the actual mathematical science behind it), what a Gate plugin does, frequencies of certain acoustic instruments & their resonant values (guitar/vocals/saxophone etc…) how to bus/group and process certain types of instruments, what reverb & delay ACTUALLY mean in a pyhsical form (not just some buttons & toggles on your DAW)…
If you’ve read this far of this status/rant, then maybe you’re beginning to understand my initial point. Music production isn’t just simply learning how to produce and the different techniques. The same as with the right amount of training you could become good at martial arts. But it’s about learning all of the above and then continuing to ‘surpass’ your current ability and becoming ‘Super Saiyan’.
Relating that to our mere mortal terms of music production… It is the continuous quest to better ourselves and to overcome any sort of mental/physical barriers that stop us from achieving our potential goals as a producer/DJ. To get to the point you are happy with the sound of your productions, to be 100% confident with your ears and technical ability, to know that you’re able to produce a track that is creative and different to your peers.
Does that actually make any sense, or am I really rambling on about some sort of unimaginable & mythical ‘Super Saiyan’ that has no relevance to our lives…
I’m not the kind of person to take everything literally, so in your own experience take everything I’ve said ‘with a pinch of salt’ (that’s an English saying, look it up if you don’t undertand). But, I really do believe that in order to progress yourself as a music producer, you need to ‘surpass’ your own mental & creative barriers, in order to work towards the ‘next level’.
If you are 100% truly and absolutely dedicated to music production, then I hope you’ll understand or at least feel what mean. As I mentioned above, in my own experience I needed the realisation that what I was doing was generic and something that wouldn’t stand out from the crowd.
That is was inspired me to ‘surpass’ my own production and creativity.
Of course, EVERYTHING I’ve said is completely subjective. You may be reading this and thinking “WTF is James Dymond on about, his tracks are no different to everyone else in the scene”.
I completely understand that, everyone is entitled to their own opinion of course. But my point is towards the music producers, the guys who slave away for hours/weeks/months/years perfecting their style and techniques. To be able to have the sort of motivation and passion I had in order to get my first track signed, then my second, then my 3rd and 4th… then my tracks signed to major Trance labels such as Armada, Black Hole and Future Sound Of Egypt.
Look up & forward, look to where you want to be and who you want to be. Stop thinking of the present and what you currently can’t do, and think towards the future of what you will succeed and be able to do.
There was a point about 5 years ago, I was almost ready to give up. I couldn’t produce the sound I wanted to in terms of technical ability. Looking back, I was naive to think that a couple years of music production would make me a master at the craft. And thinking about it now, I am still in no way a master of the craft. There are many more producers who are 10x better than I am right now.
But does that not inspire to you to ‘surpass’ your current ability…? For me, it definitely does.
Just like I was, you may have gotten to the point you’ve been doubting yourself, your abilities and you haven’t been able to ‘surpass’ a certain aspect of music production.
Give up now and you’ll never get there. Look beyond your limitations and continue to work hard. You’ll get there in the end.
Maybe I am lucky to have a musical background and musical life, but regardless of that I was 100% determined that music, music performance, music composition and music production was the life I chose.
Looking back, perhaps I subconsciously knew I wanted to ‘surpass’ myself as time went on and to believe I could do what I wanted to do…
OVER AND OUT!
I hope that helped. Remember my points… Always believe you can ‘surpass’ your current abilities and become ‘Super Sayian’, it’s simply a matter of time/belief/ and hard work.
If you have any comments or questions, please post them below. I will try my best to answer as many as possible 🙂
Well said, James!
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