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TDJ shares five tips for a natural and instinctive creative process

Hailing from Montreal, TDJ creates soulful music that blends melancholy with sweet ecstasy.

Photo credit: TDJ – Official

She began her journey in the mid-2010s, crafting emo-tronica music under the alias RYAN Playground. Her work was published through Ryan Hemsworth’s Secret Songs label.

In 2020, TDJ returned to her roots, embracing the trance and Eurodance genres she cherished as a child. She was significantly influenced by a Tiësto CD she found at ten years old. Since the inception of her TDJ project, she has released numerous EPs, a mixtape, and her acclaimed SPF INFINI trilogy.

TDJ debuted on Diplo’s Higher Ground label with her first standalone single, ‘Come Back Home’, which was accompanied by a poignant music video directed by Kevin Elamrani-lince. This song, a tribute to 00’s trance/Eurodance, showcases TDJ’s writing, production, and singing talents. The music video, set against a desert backdrop, explores the resurgence of past relationships and the relentless pursuit of the elusive.

In line with her new release, TDJ shares five insightful tips on maintaining a natural and instinctive creative process.

1. Choose the right sound and trust your instinct

This might sound basic, but it’s so important. Sometimes I face a wall, trying to “fix” a sound too much and get too deep into mixing, and lose the focus of creation. Most of the time, it just means I’m using the wrong sound. I just need to change it. It’s important to keep the creation process effortless and instinctive.

2. Export tracks as audio imprints

One of the most important things when it comes to producing and writing a track is to know when to stop adding new sounds. At some point, it’s important to commit to certain elements. What helps me to do so is to export tracks as audio files within the project. I use Logic and it’s called bouncing regions in place. Sometimes I also export stems and start over on a new project. It helps me to feel inspired again when I feel stuck in a certain structure or visually bored of seeing the same project grid.

3. Find the melodies before the words

When it comes to writing a vocal melody, it helps me a lot to stop focusing on words. I record a first kind of freestyle vocal take in a meaningless language that sounds like English. Then I select the melodies I like, try to find a nice structure, and then write words.

4. Simplify the vocal writing

It depends on the style and intentions you have with your song, but for me, I always get better results when I come up with a simple vocal top line. I never try to overwrite. I prefer to focus on one good top line rather than trying to make a more classic pop structure with multiple verses and a bridge.

5. Shape your drums and bass

I think it can really make the difference to spend a bit more time defining the interaction between your drums and bass. It solidifies the production while leaving more space for the melodic elements in the song. I use a shaper box a lot for that matter, especially the VolumeShaper tool.

TDJ’s ‘Come Back Home’ is out now via Higher Ground. Stream and download here.

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