Photo by Josh Gordon on Unsplash Here in California, it seems like just yesterday that…
Simon Goff has made a name for himself as a collaborator to post-classical music visionaries such as Jóhann Jóhannsson, Hildur Guðnadóttir, Dustin O’Halloran, and Yair Elazar Glotman. With Guðnadóttir specifically, he worked on the soundtracks for the HBO series ‘Chernobyl’ and film ‘Joker’, for which Goff won a Grammy. Now, the producer has unveiled ‘Vale’, his first solo material, which draws both on his career in Berlin, where he currently resides, but also his childhood and upbringing in the UK. The album is as rich and deep and wide as the landscape that lies at its heart, the Vale of York, with Goff capturing through a mix of analog purity and processed, looped and layered treatments, empowering the feeling of awe and space of the panorama.
Celebrating this unforgettable landmark in Simon Goff’s career with ‘Vale’, the producer shares 5 studio tips to find your sound.
1. Give yourself the best chance
Approach your work as calmly as possible. Look after yourself and make the experience of creating a positive one. Fatigue, hunger, stress, all of these things can be huge distractions from working at your best capacity. I find I do my best work when I can meditate in the morning and approach the day with a clear focus about what I need to do and what I want to achieve. By having as few obstacles between me and the job as possible, I give myself the best chance to do my best work.
2. Organize and let go
Similarly, make sure your space is organized. That doesn’t necessarily mean tidy, but make sure the things you need on hand are easy to access. Don’t have things in your way. This also applies to digital organizations too. Try to keep your files organized so you know where things are. Keep your sessions clean. Having a messy session is the quickest way to end up with a messy mix. Within this space that you create, have time to let go. Forget about keeping things tidy, just follow your instinct. Don’t think too much and don’t worry about what you’re making, just make. Organization is important to not let things get in the way of creativity. In the same way, freedom is important to enabling creativity. Don’t let preconceptions of ‘how things should be done’ get in your way. Remake, rework, redefine.
3. Reference others but be yourself
Using references is a really good way to know how your work is meeting the different standards of the industry or practice you are part of. Building up a collection of reference tracks that you like the sound of, or checking back with artists that inspire you can be very helpful. This said, it is also easy to get lost in comparison. It is your differences from other people that make you unique and special. Finding a way to amplify your uniqueness while competing with the standards of your industry is the game!
4. Learn how to compare
When we listen to other people’s work it is very easy to not understand what we are listening to. Often your listening environment plays a huge role in this and also the volume at which you listen. When comparing your work to others, if the levels of your tracks are not equal it is easy to make judgments that are affected by the differences in volume more than anything else. Learn your listening environment, listen to a lot of music there, and then go and listen to that same music somewhere else you trust. Listen to the difference and try to get to know and understand how your space is affecting the sound. Use metering to make sure that when you are comparing things, you are listening to them at the same volume.
5. Think of everything as an instrument
The best music is made when you can hear and feel the interaction between the human and the instrument. That instrument can be anything, a violin, a tape machine, a computer, but when that relationship is fluid and organic the best things happen. Practice your instrument, give yourself time to make that is not attached to a certain project. Practice the ways you want to do this so they become second nature and you can do them fast. There are many things you do every day without needing to think about them, try to make your way of creating one of these…and have fun!
Simon Goff’s ‘Vale’ is out now. Purchase your copy here.