It’s been a little over a year since the debut album by Loxy and myself – “Burning Shadows” – was released on Exit Records. The project had many phases and we put a ton of work on it over the course of 3-4 years. I’m still very happy and proud about how it turned out. But life is about learning, and I’ve gained new perspective since finishing the project. So let’s reflect for a bit upon the experience of working on an album… And what I would do differently next time.
Here we go – my 5 tips for making an album.
1. Set focus
There were many reasons it took so long for us to finish the LP. Some were beyond our control, but there’s one that was purely down to us: We were both working on all sorts of other projects at the same time. We collaborated for releases on several labels and we both had our solo projects going on. Add the fact that we live in different countries…
Multitasking caused us a lot of extra work. Whenever we lost focus on the LP we had to set our sights again and build up the momentum to get back on track.
2. Listen as whole
When the album was finished and out there I realized I hadn’t really taken a whole lot of time to listen to it as an album, from start to finish. I had been so busy and focused on working on the tunes.
Next time I will take more time throughout the project to just listen to it. That is the best way to build perspective on the project as whole.
3. Fight perfectionism
In any creative work it’s all about finding the balance between self-criticism and letting go. By trying to strive for perfection you are only making things harder. There is good, there is even great, but there is no perfect.
4. Smaller deadlines
Here is another reason why it took so long to finish I reckon. The deadlines we set were typically spanning a long time frame such as “have the album finished in 8 months”. That’s just too long and too vague with everything that kept interfering with the album making process.
Things change and life always comes up with endless amounts of things that get in your way. Since making the album I’ve started approaching big projects as a series of smaller deadlines. Smaller goals are easier to manage. Achieving them creates positive momentum which fuels you forward.
5. Plan less, do more
It’s enticing to plan things out, but you have to draw a line between what’s useful and what’s excessive. Too much planning is counterproductive, and will only result in change of plans later on. I think for the way we work it’s more important to follow our guts and just make tunes.
We had a pretty good vision of what we wanted to do to begin with, so we could have spent even less time on musing about it and more working on the music.