Getting back my Musical Mojo… #NoInspiration #BlankPaperSyndrome

The story of how “Seven Sorrows, Seven Stars” was born
Behind every (favorite) song is an untold story
Behind every (favorite) song is an untold story

One of the worst things that can happen to a musician, besides hard drive failure or losing an instrument, is the “blank paper syndrome”. No inspiration. The will and urge to create, but, left there without any inspiration…

After finishing the album “The Xenogamous Endeavour” I was met with this syndrome for the first time. Well, I’m lying, I had periods of being uninspired before, but this time it kept on going for months! Every drumbeat, bnasslines, synthesizer melody or lyric I wrote sounded dull and unemotional for me. It had no soul, it was clear that I lost my mojo…

 

Going through the motions

I reverted to playing games, from Tomb Raider (reboot), Dragon Age: Inquisition, Project Cars, F1 2014, Diablo III : RoS (ps: add me with battletag lerenard242#2134) and immersing myself into that world. Along with watching the weekly Co-Optional (gaming related) Podcast of Totalbiscuit, Dodger and Jesse Cox. I immersed

Playing Tomb Radier (2013 Reboot)
Playing Tomb Raider (2013 Reboot)

myself in programming at work, learned new technologies. Did a lot of walks, running and I also watched a lot of movies with my girlfriend. In essence I took a step back, I hadn’t fired up my DAW for serious work in about 6 to maybe even 7 months.

In the beginning I was very stressed, I also said that “The Xenogamous Endeavour” was the last album I ever made, and I would never be able to make another again. Gradually though, by emerging myself into the other worlds of gaming, programming, nature and movies (especially movies) made me forget about that stress – I was enjoying other parts as well.

 

 

 

Lightning strike

And then, suddenly, out of nowhere, me and my girlfriend decided to watch “Interstellar“. Not knowing much about the plot or the movie itself we dived right in. I was totally immersed by the cinematography, the shots, the pace, the sounds, the visuals, the acting, the story, the atmosphere.. Very little movies stay with me – I only have a few. The Professional (Léon), The Fifth Element, Moon, Ex Machina and, now ofcourse, Interstellar as well.

I couldn’t get the atmosphere the movie left behind out of my head. I was constantly reminded about certain scenes, the overall feeling and images. It inspired me so much to fire up my DAW for the first time in months. Out of that grew the first song of the album “Seven Sorrows, Seven Stars“, named “Alcubierre Drive ft. Kyoko Baertsoen” – a direct reference to the movie. I wanted to capture the overall feeling of the movie in this track I was making, both in sound design as in the lyrics.

More On Alcubierre Drive

The thriving basslines and big pads were for me the dramatic and slightly melancholic feeling I had when watching Interstallar. Alcubierre Drive’s lyrics are a description of the father / daughter relationship throughout the movie. Yet, I wanted to make sure that people could experience this without having seend the movie, so I made sure that I transposed the lyrics to the “real world”, so they can be enjoyed and understood without needing to have the full background of the movie. See this YouTube clip that combines both scenes from Interstellar, the music of “Alcubierre Drive” and the lyrics to illustrate what I mean with the fact that I’ve created my own personal “soundtrack”.

Keeping momentum

I couldn’t get enough, after that first track I started making about 10 songs which were directly related to either the feeling and atmosphere, or specific scenes. I effectively made my own personal soundtrack to Interstellar. Before I knew it I had all the demos and ideas ready, they only needed to be fleshed out – which takes a long time, but I knew I had my mojo back. I knew I could make enough songs out of this.

Keeping Momentum, Recording, recording, recording ideas...
Keeping Momentum, Recording, recording, recording ideas…

I never turned back to see the movie though, I wanted to keep momentum and not overanalyse the feeling I had… Going with the flow I had due to the memories that remained stuck in my head. Part of them real, part of them maybe a bit altered.

Lessons learned

Taking a step back, not thinking about music, doing other things cleared my mind. And like lightning bolt, Interstellar sparked my imagination again and delivered me a framework to work in. Out of a few exceptions all the songs on “Seven Sorrows, Seven Stars” are directly referenced to the movie, yet I always made sure to transpose the lyrics to the world we live in, or project them to my own life – so that it’s both a personal soundtrack for Interstellar as it is a reflection of how I see the world and what I experienced the past years… I picked “Alcubierre Drive” to illustrate the point, but as I said, there’s numerous other tracks on the album that directly relate to the movie – or to a specific scene.

Inspiration is a weird one. When it is there, it’s sometimes too much to handle, when it’s lost it’s almost impossible to get it back. This experience made me realise that now I can draw inspiration from everywhere – and that when it doesn’t come immediately, I shouldn’t worry or stress too much. Eventually a lighting strike will hit me again to kickstart another creative period!

What are your methods to get back your “creative mojo” or to break out of the lack of inspiration loop?

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