- Write with a pen on paper! It gives you ideas that maybe you might erase when you’re writing on a computer.
- Picking another instrument you don’t usually play can be really fun. You won’t go to what your sense memory knows, so you’ll find a new place to start from. If you play guitar, sit down at the piano and see where it takes you. The chords will be totally different and you’ll play different melodies. That has worked for me before.
- If you haven’t got something really solid within 90 minutes, don’t bash your head against the wall. Inspiration is a gift and you can’t force someone to give you a gift. As soon as you start thinking too much and trying to grab and hold onto it, it’s going to die. That’s like love.
- You can revisit a stalled song idea later. You might have a new perspective on life a couple of years later that means you can understand the song in a way you needed to in order to finish it.
- Try reading a book, a novel idea! I always get inspiration when I read a good book.
Photo by John Londono
Lessons Learned: career tips gleaned from Grimes’ success
- A true craftsman doesn’t blame their tools – Grimes recorded all of Visions on Apple’s rather limited Garageband recording application. Boucher was able to work within these narrow parameters to achieve incredible results.
- Vive la difference – One important reason why Grimes’ music has resonated with so many people was her ability to embrace her quirky character traits and celebrate them.
- Grow a set of big ears – Grimes’ amalgamation of K-pop, J-pop, modern diva pop, harsh noise, industrial sounds and medieval music galvanized her own sonic voice. The synthesis of styles allowed her to market herself over a wide spectrum of genres.
- If it were easy, everybody would be doing it – Grimes is a self-described workaholic, and has spent the past two years on the road, honing her live show. If you want to turn your music into a career, you’d better be prepared to roll up your sleeves and give it every ounce of sweat you’ve got.
- Keep a finger in every pie – Grimes has managed to take complete control of her music, as well as how it’s marketed, by self-producing her recordings, creating her own visual aesthetic, graphics, merchandise and directing her own videos.
Photo by Alexandra Valenti
Lessons Learned: Corb Lund’s songwriting tips
- With story songs, you’ve got to think of it all making sense, start to finish, and have a twist at the end, almost like a punch line.
- Sometimes you’ve got to be more obvious than you’re artistically comfortable being. You already know the story, but the message has to shine through at a bar at 1 a.m. when everybody’s hammered, the band is too loud and the P.A. sucks.
- When a song isn’t working, leave it alone. Go do something else, or keep the instrument in your hands, keep singing, but work on vocal or guitar exercises or learn cover songs. Sometimes things will slip in and come to you that way.
- Choose chord voicings according to the mood, style and instrumentation of a song. When I’m playing alone, acoustically, I’ll play different voicings. In our four-piece setting, sometimes what I’m doing is more textural, so if there’s a key riff, voicing or feel, Grant will take it over on electric so it speaks out.