"Don't Be Afraid to Make Something Wack": !llmind on Overcoming Creative "Beat Block"

"Emotional stability is the key factor in creating and composing amazing music."
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My name is !llmind. I'm a music producer and I'm passionate about sharing my experiences. Things that worked, things that I f*cked up and what I learned from it all. No guidance and no mentor. I know what it's like to want to create music but not know how to start, where to go or how to turn it into a living. I don't have ALL the answers, but what I can promise is that I will always touch on topics that I have personally experienced. At the end of the day, I hope to empower you to be your best self, regardless of what industry you're trying to pursue.

For more inspiration, subscribe to my YOUTUBE channel and my PODCAST "BlapChat."

As creatives, we’re expected to manifest into the universe a piece of art from thin air. If you’re a music producer, you compose melodies, chop samples and program drums starting from a blank slate. If you’re a rapper, you form words, rhymes, cadences, and concepts. This process can be extremely daunting for creatives, especially if we feel uninspired. 

In the creative world, we like to call these moments “beat block.” If you ask me, though, the idea of “beat block” is bullshit. It doesn’t exist. It comes from deep within our emotional feelings. 

Sometimes we feel stuck because we overthink the music we’re about to compose. Sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves to create an amazing piece of art and if we don’t deliver, we get frustrated. Sometimes we have melodies in our head very specific to a vision and if we’re not able to translate those ideas into music, it pisses us off! Some days are good. Some days are bad. Some days we have tons of energy, excitement, and ideas. Some days we feel bored and dull, and a lack of confidence takes over.

The one thing that ties all of these things together is “emotion.”

Making music is very spiritual. We tap into a higher energy. The notes. The melodies. The textures. The ability to compose a piece of music is channeled through our deep emotions for others to enjoy. We have the unique ability to change the perspective and mood of another human being. It’s powerful. There isn't a more powerful tool in the universe that has the ability to alter people’s emotions than music.

When we enter that studio, sit down in front of that keyboard and compose, we are able to tap into this deep emotion. We are very dependent on how we feel at that moment. If we have a bad day, those emotions will affect the way we make music and the type of music we make. If we have an amazing day, there’s a high likelihood our music will translate in the same way.

Emotional stability is the key factor in creating and composing amazing music. It’s also how we avoid the frustration of “beat block.” Now, I’m not saying that you can’t make a great piece of music while feeling frustrated. Rappers go through frustrating times, live a real life and write about those experiences in the music. Some music producers feel frustrated with life and that frustration motivates them to get in the studio to make bangers! Every human being deals with frustration differently. But the moment you step into that studio to create a piece of music, your level of “emotional stability” can become a deal-breaker.

So what are some things to keep in mind in our neverending quest for emotional stability? How can you avoid “beat block”?

For starters, make sure your environment is clean and in order. I’m talking about the studio. Your workplace. Your creative space. Every object in your creative space is vibrating and releasing energy, whether you believe that or not. Working in a messy room really sucks! You think it doesn’t, but you’re in denial. No human wants garbage everywhere. Clean that shit up! Treat your space as if you are working inside your brain. How would you decorate your brain? Make sure you have immediate access to all of the tools you need. Speakers, cables, keyboards, microphones, etc. Decorate this room with objects that reflect your passion and your tastes. There is no right or wrong. This room should be a reflection of who you are and what you love. I love Star Wars, so I have a handful of random Star Wars figurines sprinkled throughout my studio. That’s just me.

Next, create some type of schedule that works for you. If you’ve got a 9-5 job, create a regimen. Allocate time after work and/or on weekends for making music. If you’re doing this full-time, great! Have the discipline to know when to start and when to stop. When I started creating a schedule for myself, my career success skyrocketed.

Go out of your way to be more open-minded to collaborating with people. Sometimes we need to feed off other people’s creative energy to get out of a rut. It’s good to break the monotony of working alone all the time. Find local musicians that want to work. Vibe with people. Visit your friends who also create music and vibe with them. Dig through Instagram and slide into those DMs. Shoot your shot. Find people in your neighborhood who also create music and take a chance by linking up with them. You’ll feel energized.

One practice that has always helped me to avoid “beat block” is to just try a bunch of random shit. I clear my head and just start playing the keyboard. I’ll pick a basic piano patch, or shuffle through a few sounds to find one that inspires me. Then I’ll just start playing. If you don’t know how to play the piano, there are a handful of really good “chord triggering” VSTs that can help (look up “Cthulhu”). Just keep trying stuff and don’t be afraid to make something wack. I make wack stuff all the time. You just don’t hear it.

If you’re in the early stages—years one through three—of your music production career, chances are you can’t afford to lose time by not being productive. So “walking away” when you think you're experiencing "beat block" is unrealistic. You’ve got no choice but to fight through the lack of confidence and frustration. Try stuff. Don’t be afraid to make something wack. Keep going until something sticks. 

Fight through it. Trust me, we all fight through it. 

The best of us fight through it every day. 

Sometimes fighting through an idea can actually help you create your best work.

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