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If you’re working on a beat, or even if you want to start a new one right now, try to create at least three variations of the loop you started with by removing parts, adding them back in, making simple changes to patterns, etc. If you feel inspired, develop your idea further by adding other elements, and taking the beat out entirely for a bar or two.

In August 2018, my partner Ken and I left the (expensive) San Francisco Bay Area to live in an RV and tour the country. We book all the shows ourselves and we’ve played to crowds of two and crowds of 200. We’ve gone three weeks straight playing shows every night, and we’ve had RV breakdowns.

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It’s an ever-fluctuating continuum. Sometimes an idea will pop into my head completely orchestrated and ready to be written down, and other times it’ll just be a little scrap — something I have to sit down and futz around with for hours before achieving any sense of clarity about what exactly I should do with it. Orchestration has always been my favorite part of the writing process, and I enjoy trying to figure it all out, digging and finding the information already hidden in a piece of musical material that will guide my decisions about how to treat it.

But whether you’ve got an entire history behind your genre or you want to establish your artistic image with a unique brand and identity unto yourself, typography should be one of the first elements you consider as you execute your album and poster artwork.

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And once the mix starts to come together, make sure to play your track back on as many different speakers and listening devices as possible (the car, your laptop, your phone’s ear buds, etc.) and take notes. Listen, and trust your own ears.

Modes and Key Signatures have a variety of different characteristics and are great for outside-the-box songwriting. Here’s a cheat sheet to remember them!