Finally, NAMM 2020 is behind us and the newest technology in the industry’s biggest trade show is making tons of excitement.
When you follow lots of music producers on social media, you have probably seen lots of flashy new gear on your feed recently.
When you are a sound engineer or an instrumentalist yourself, maybe you even got a bit envious. You pictured how far you can get in your career when you just had all the tools you have ever wanted.
So many musicians, particularly those of us who’re technology-oriented, could get fixated on owning new gear.
A few of us think new tools automatically breathe new life into our music. Sometimes it could but new gear doesn’t always spark inspiration
You may try a new audio effect sometimes and feel like it is a breath of fresh air. This does not always mean that the newest and best gear will lead us to the highest quality music we have ever made, though.
Everyone is obsessed with Billie Eilish and FINNEAS’s intimate creative space these days. It’s a room in their house with no sound absorption panels insight.
They record, write and produce still in the very room. Kind of surprising yet inspiring at the same time, isn’t it?
From the way FINNEAS talks about their setup, it’s clear that all he cares about is having the tools he wants within his reach.
Essentials vs excess
I’ve been walking the thin line of deciding between what’s important and what is excess in my home studio for a while now.
Still, the temptation I feel isn’t so different from that of a kid in a big candy store. However, I find following the updates in music technology genuinely inspiring, too.
The recent announcement of UAD’s console/DAW hybrid LUNA is particularly interesting.
I’m nearly giddy considering how much this program can improve the sonic detail of my takes and streamline my recording process.
There is a healthy middle ground between the necessities and excess, similar to there’s one between rejuvenation and hindrance.
Learning a new instrument or buying your dream microphone could get you excited to create. However, obsessing about how your music is going to sound if you purchase your dream gear could keep you back.
Essentials could result in happy accidents
When Skrillex took over the music industry ten years ago with his aggressive sound, many sound engineers called him out.
They claimed his masters sounded like they were clipping and suddenly, he was a proclaimed entrance runner within the loudness war.
At the moment, we all know he was onto one thing. We have gotten used to grittier sounds over the years and Skrillex has undoubtedly played an enormous role in that.
I keep coming back to this video where he breaks down how he followed a method that many would have known as “insane” back in the day.
He describes how he has made an organic synth out of Justin Bieber’s voice for “Where Are U Now.” by degrading its sonic quality.
Skrillex could certainly afford to work out of a state-of-the-art studio at present, however, it’s clear that he does not always feel the necessity to do so.
Inventions beyond music tech
Drawing inspiration from new gear is complicated. On one hand, you could get carried away going on a shopping spree.
On the other hand, when you do not open yourself up to new tools, your method could get stale in a long music career so new gear doesn’t always spark inspiration.
There are some artists out there who’re known for re-inventing themselves for this very reason. Björk is one of them. Actually, she has gone as far as commissioning some new instruments for her recent albums.
And it isn’t all that surprising when you consider it. After experimenting with so many arrangements, she has to have puzzled, “what else is there?”
There are 5 tools that were particularly designed for “Biophilia” alone. One of the most prominent tools on the album, gameleste, could be heard all over the single, “Crystalline”.
More recently, Björk has taken it even further by providing the handmade birdcall flutes featured on her album, “Utopia” in a box set. Now her followers could get one step closer to listening to the album from Björk’s point of view.
My New Year’s resolution
The list of every piece of equipment I need in my studio continues to develop. However, my biggest revelation of the year so far is to expose myself to the “new” in moderation.
I have found that sometimes being an observer alone is enough to encourage me.
I don’t think I will unsubscribe from the mailing lists of my favorite music companies anytime soon. But resisting the temptation to buy new plugins has already done wonders for my music this year.
As distractions surround me, I value the moments where I am laser-focused on my craft now more than ever to help yu guys to know New Gear Doesn’t Always Spark Inspiration.