Since leaving my normal life and job in my home town of Chester, my approach to creating needed a makeover.
My girlfriend, Holly, and I decided to quit our jobs and head off in a 1980s VW Camper-van for a road trip across the UK, and being a long time aspiring musician, I thought I would try to note the changes that have come my way when creating on the road.
When planning our trip, it quickly became clear to me that a camper-van would not be a sufficient space for a home studio, which meant waving goodbye to larger and more precious musical items such as drum kits, keyboards and amplifiers that I had collected over the years. I spent some time minimising my setup down to a small cardboard box’s worth of equipment, with the final line up including; my laptop (for production software), a small midi keyboard, battery operated drum machine, field recorder (to act as a portable microphone and for DI recording from the drum machine) and a few toy box percussion instruments for a live feel.
The first thing I noticed was actually the lack of music that I had created over the first week. I actually hadn’t even thought about doing so. But I had felt like giving myself a break and treating this time as a holiday, as we needed to get used to the busy schedule of living on the road. However, after finding our feet and booking a few nights in a beautiful campsite in the Shropshire Hills, I decided to take some time to sit down and see what ideas I could muster up.
I decided to set up every bit of equipment that I had brought with me to prevent it from further disrupting the work flow, which I found also helped to make me feel more at home. Although, I must admit that I couldn’t quite get comfortable, and felt the same sensation that I usually felt whenever I tried to produce out in a café or on the train. Almost like I wasn’t really making something because I wasn’t in my real home studio and this project just felt like a practice song, which is always good but is never going to get me closer to my goal of multi-Grammy award winning producer (thats not too ambitious is it?).
I gave myself a second without wearing my claustrophobic headphones and took in the views that surrounded me. Holly was outside crocheting some earrings whilst watching the sun set over the rolling hills and realised that I would have to get used to this feeling or I wouldn’t be getting any work done for the foreseeable future. I tried to persevere and ended up with a song that I was pretty happy with.
It was different to my usual work but that was OK, I was in a different space and was using different equipment and as I’ve been slowly creating more and more over the weeks, I’ve begun to realise that I’m not going to be making the same kind of music that I have before, and that’s also OK. I also realised that I was using the few pieces of equipment that I had brought with me more that I had ever used them before, especially when they were usually hiding among the ‘all star’ instruments that dominated my room at home.
This, in a way, gave me a surge of motivation as I found that I could always find a way to make some form of music, as long I actually allowed myself to sit down and just bloody do it (I mean, J Dilla produced his entire discography on a single MPC3000, didn’t he?). But if I’ve learnt anything over the past few weeks (apart from how to actually drive a 40 y/o VW Camper-van) is that longing for my comfy, warm home studio wouldn’t get anything done, and probably will only stunt my creative growth, but I have found that I can only try to encourage the evolution of my creativity and let it naturally mirror the life that I am living and the life that I am experiencing.
Most importantly, I’ve learnt to remember that the only reason I decided to squeeze all of this musical gear in the back of the van with us, is because of the fact that I do truly enjoy it.
Words & Photo's by Inness Hallam
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