My creative projects fell through the cracks during my Fall semester. Understandably, I was busy with work and school. Over break I knew I’d have a lot more free time to make music, but I also knew I’d waste that time without a plan. Thus, the Beat Station was born. My guidelines were simple: I had to write an EP of electronic music, but I could only write songs while at the Fillin’ Station Coffeehouse. I could do mixing, layering, and tweaking at home, but not songwriting.
The main reason for this project was to help me finish songs. I’ve mentioned before that one of my struggles is indecision in songwriting. Only being able to write at a specific place helped me to hunker down and make decisions. A lot of times I’d be working and think, “Oh crap, they’re closing in an hour and I won’t be able to come here for a few days. I need to finish this.” When a song is coming along, you want to finish it, but being able to work on it whenever you want makes it easy to procrastinate.
This was also a great excuse for me to document something. My teachers always talk about the importance of documenting, but I never really did it. Suddenly I had a story to tell about my songwriting challenge, and lots of opportunities for pictures and footage in the coffee shop. I made three videos about the experience and lots of social media posts.
In retrospect, this challenge wasn’t ideal for my songwriting goals. Since I was releasing an EP, not only did I need to finish four songs, I had to produce, mix, and master them. That takes a ton of time, and I wanted to focus more on songwriting. Typically when I write an EP, I write more songs than will actually be included. That way I can pick the best ones to release. In this project I wrote four songs and released four songs, so I didn’t have room to curate. Going forward, I may do something similar, but with the goal of finishing demos. At the end of the writing phase, I can pick the best ones to produce and release.
I went into this knowing I wouldn’t do it perfectly, but that I would learn what to work on for next time, not from YouTube videos or by sitting around thinking, but by doing it and seeing the results. This turned out better than I hoped, and now I know how to improve.