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With performances at some of the most important clubs in the world, British DJ and producer Braxton is not a stranger to the dance scene. 2019 marked the beginning of a new chapter in his music career with his label debut on Anjunadeep with ‘When The Sun Goes Down’, and an official remix of Dezza’s ‘Juniper’.
Now Braxton makes his return to Anjunadeep with the ‘Torn/Chiaroscuro’ EP. For the special occasion Braxton shares 5 tips to shine as a producer.
1. Just start
A well-known footwear manufacturer coined a very, very similar phrase that I won’t include here because it will probably result in royalties being owed to someone, but the most useful tip I’ve discovered over the years is to just start making music. Launch your DAW or whatever you use to write and just start making music.
Sometimes, before I start writing, I manage to convince myself that I have a million and one things I need to do before I could possibly write any music. But it’s totally untrue. When I’m working on music, everything else just seems immaterial. And it is. You don’t need to clean or do the dishes or put a wash on or go for a run or anything like that, you just need to start writing music and see where it takes you. If you start and you’re not feeling it or something isn’t clicking, then you can go and do those things, let those distractions fix your music-making process, rather than hinder it.
2. Stop and clear your mind
If it’s not working, or if you’re not feeling it, don’t force it. Just take a break, step back and do something else with your head for a while.
3. You do not need that new synth
People always say this and it’s infuriating. I know, because even as I’m writing this there’s a little devil on my shoulder saying ‘that’s bollocks! You definitely DO need that brand new expensive shiny synthesizer and everything you do will be crap until you buy it, you piece of shit’ – but it’s not true. Really, there’s very little you need in order to write something great. My setup consists of a ten-year old Mac Pro running Logic 9 (which had its ‘most recent’ update over 8 years ago). AND I LOVE IT. Because it just totally works for me. It does everything I need. Sure, there are some restrictions but they only stimulate the creative process. Music making should be challenging to some degree. It’d be easy to throw money at the problem but nothing worthwhile ever came from somewhere easy. Embrace restrictions in any way you can, and don’t always think the easiest option is the right one.
4. Understand the rollercoaster
Music making is a real rollercoaster of emotions. Understand that every single artist goes through that same emotional turmoil when writing music. It goes something like this: first you enjoy the track, then you love it, then you’re absolutely convinced it’s the best thing you’ve ever fucking heard and your life will forever be changed as soon as it gets released, then you think it’s ‘just alright’, then you hate it, then you absolutely fucking hate it, then you hate yourself, then you think you’re stupid for even thinking you could actually make music – I mean, who makes music? What’s the point, it’s all so fucking dumb, it’s just stupid bleeps and farts, why does anyone even bother?!…and then you think it’s alright again, and so on and so on.
The trick, I think, is to be aware of each stage, and aware of your position – and adapt your process to fit the rollercoaster as you ride it. Get ‘focused’ at the right time, get ‘creative’ at the right time, get ‘technical’ at the right time, take a break at the right time, etc. Doing this will give you control over all those peaks and dips.
Navigate your songwriting in sync with your emotional journey, the more you perfect this the more you’ll finish tracks at the right time. Right at that fucking beautiful peak. You know the one. That’s where you always want to be. Hit that peak and just print your final mix, there’s no better feeling.
5. Ignore all advice
Ignore everything you’ve ever read about music making, especially things condensed into top 5 lists. Just do what you love and someone will feel it.
Sorry for all the swears, it’s a bit of a weird time right now.
Braxton’s ‘Torn/Chiaroscuro’ is now available. Stream and buy here.