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When Do You Do Your Best Work?

When do you do your best work?

Is it in the evening, first thing in the morning with coffee,  after work, 4 in the morning (I know a self employed designer that works like this) or during a full moon? I think it’s important to reflect upon. Save yourself time & get more done.

At a Red Bull info session, I asked Flying Lotus what time of day he wrote his music, and he replied with “in the morning”. Who knew? I believe it had something to do with demands of his living situation, but regardless I thought it was interesting. I would bet that isn’t when most of us do our writing.

Although I am not saying it is the best time for you, I have heard from business success experts such as Tony Schwartz that it is best to do your highest priority tasks earliest in the day. This is apparently because you have the most will power at the start of your day, and it depletes as the day progresses. Makes sense to me, and I certainly find this true with non-music tasks. Weather this applies to music would be interesting to study as well.

Historically, I’ve found that personally I tend to do my best work (in the case of first starting a track) on a Friday night. Ill stay up late until I’m burned out on the thing (for the time being), sleep (refresh my ears), then work on it on and off throughout Saturday and Sunday, then leave it alone for a week. This gives a bit of objectivity on the mixdown and programming. After that time I’ll make necessary tweaks and go play it on a bunch of different systems and in a club, then make final tweaks. This is by no means a perfect process, but it just seems to be how I’ve written most of my music. Sometimes I’ll write with my bud Atma and we’ll start in the morning, then go till around dinner. That works well for collaborations between us.

Most of us have schedules, and thus try to fit in as much music time as our lives allow, so any time is valuable time. But if you do have time available – consider experimenting with when you write or practice performing and investigate the results.

I’ve written previously about some ideas on how to overcome writers block, but I think this is the flip side of the coin. Of course, everyone is different, and may even perform differently day to day, but I think it pays off to find when you are most productive.

  • Be conscious and pay attention to when you work best
  • Consider experimenting with alternate times throughout the day
  • Leave a comment! What works for you?

12(K) Principles

A minimal(istic) electronic record label and mastering house “12K“, based out of NYC and founded in 1997, caught my attention this week. In the about section on their website, they describe how they consciously approach their music and the marketplace. They give us “12 Principles Upon Which 12K was Founded“.

I believe that having intention behind what you’re doing and being able to easily communicate your philosophy helps it spread.

Some of  these ideas may not resonate with you personally (such as 4 or 7 – I understand and appreciate them but may choose different approaches), but there is value to all of these perspectives. I equally  enjoy their music as well as how they tell their story.

“..Trying to create something beautiful, however small, in this oversaturated, violent world that we live in. A small space – a place to breathe.” Taylor Deupree


1. Don’t tell listeners what they want to hear, let them discover that for themselves.

2. Treat your audience as they are: intelligent, passionate lovers of art and sound.

3. Evolve constantly, but slowly.

4. Stay quiet, stay small.

5. Strive for timelessness.

6. Never try to be perfect. Soul is in imperfection.

7. Simplicity. Anti-Design.

8. Never try to innovate, be true to yourself, and innovation may happen.

9. Explore sound as art, as a physical phenomenon – with emotion.

10. Develop community.

11. Be spontaneous.

12. Everything will change.

What do you think? Leave a comment!

Thanks to @djfractal for passing this along.

Vital Visual Impact

As a part of the sub|division fam, a group of West-Coast music lovers pushing forward thinking sounds, we are celebrating our two year anniversary this month. 24 months packed with parties, mixes, tracks, and media coverage and the crew is still gaining momentum and further support. For sub|div, 2 years of content also means we’ve needed a lot of graphic work done. A lot. One undeniable aspect of this success is the consistently high quality branding work done by Carlin @ Cab Design. The identifiable logo, color schemes and fonts are a big part of the glue that holds the brand together (Monolithium being the other major ingredient in the adhesive mix!).

Silent Season is a BC based label that imparts a strong visual impact. Their website (perhaps my favorite ever) and every release feature high quality nature images including beautiful Vancouver Island forests. It feels like there photos they use for their website and releases are so much more than just images, they are an integral part of everything they do. It imparts their ethos.

Even if you are doing a free release, I believe it’s 100% worth it to commission some cover art. I’m speaking for myself here but I’m more likely to check out a track or mix if there’s quality cover art. Perhaps it shows that you value your work. High quality posters raise the pervieved value of events. Using great art that is somehow logically connected to each other creates a sense of consistency. Have you noticed in record stores or online that you can often tell what label a release is on before you read it?

I absolutely love Prison Garde’s no-nonsense approach to the visual element (as he also acts as a curator for Catalog Gallery).

On the topic of design. If you are booking me for a show, and the aesthetic for the print material resembles a psychedelic spirit / shaman disguised as a forest animal / has more than on fluo pantone on a primrary color/ has my name written in weed leaves, or any type of budda/shiva/lion of judah icons, I will not post the information about the show. Forgive me, but I place a great deal of importance on visual language, and do not wish to be lumped into things that I find aesthetically offensive.

With that being said, if you are booking me, and want a tight looking flyer, drop an extra 100 bucks on the booking, send me the copy, and let me handle it for you. I will make it pretty, promise.

If you look at Cabfree’s work for sub|division – your subconscious mind (see what I did there) already knows that it’s part of a body of work even before you consciously identify it.

  • Create an impression on your audience before they even listen.
  • Hire someone to do your graphic work (let a pro work for you!)
  • Consistency, consistency, consistency is key.

This post is not so much a “big up” to efforts of friends, but rather to highlight what is working. Consistent visual branding helps tremendously (thank you Carlin). Don’t miss a crucial aspect of music culture. Look good, on purpose.