Thursday, 29 November 2012



Sometimes, thankfully rarely,  I will record a band that will passionately want to sound like something that has come before, a carbon copy. So instead of me being the producer working with them, I will become engineer working for them. 

That's a fair situation. They are passionate and if thats what they want, then I will make it happen. But in the back of my mind, I will already know that the end product, a pastiche, won't resonate as much as exciting records by those artists that strive to create. 

I relish working with artists that come to capture a moment or a feeling or mix elements that have previously not gone together before. Most of all, to capture themselves

There are many modern studio tricks in which to morph and manipulate sounds and cleverly turn one thing into another, but just because you can, it shouldn't mean a young band - with its unique foibles - should make a carbon copy of a previous band. Those foibles are something to be enhanced and exaggerated rather than erased and corrected. 

Take Bob Dylan. Technically he couldn't sing. He was nasal and untrained. Perhaps with modern technology he would have been given the Xfactor treatment and been corrected and conformed. Most likely though he would have been forgotten. Instead, his individuality shone and you can still hear people doing Bob Dylan vocals. 

What Jimmy Hendrix considered mistakes at the time have just become the way you play guitar.

Individuality and originality are the elements that the a&r guy gets excited about and what the good producer latches onto and amplifies. Sometimes it is exactly what the new and unconfident artist wants to erase to conform to the zeitgeist.  

That's not to say that one shouldn't look back. Take Nirvana. They attempted to do John Lennon style songs in the style of ACDC. Whatever mistakes and individuality they had were enhanced and the result was something new. 

The Beatles would take influences from outside of their field and perform it their way. Liverpudlian rockers doing Rogers and Hammerstein, recorded with engineers and producers throwing the rule book out of the window. The result turned out so influential that literally everyone with a guitar or a mixing desk can trace a line back to what they achieved.

Whatever band takes the world by storm, there will inevitably be hundreds of unsigned bands attempting to be that band. How many times have you been to an unsigned gig and seen a brilliantly realised The Libertines or Oasis mark ii? The unsigned band playing perfectly in the style of the Hot New Band playing songs exactly in the style of the Hot New Band but wondering why they remain unloved. With their musical talent, if they just twisted a couple of elements in a new and creative direction, they could be loved.

No matter how exposing it feels, it's better and so much more exciting to record the real you (with your various influences) and then if you are to manipulate the sound in the studio, take it in a fresh new direction. It's even possible to take influences from outside of your genre or even outside of your creative medium to create a new approach. Black Sabbath were influenced just as much by horror films as other musicians. 

What is creativity then?

1. finding an absolutely new solution
2. taking an existing theme in a new direction
3, mixing elements of that have previously not been together. 

The lightbulb was created as an absolutely new solution. The plug in air freshener was a new way of delivering perfume. Combine the lightbulb and plug in air freshener and you have a way of lighting and freshening the room at the same time*.
* © Bobby Bloomfield 2012

How is one creative?

There are two modes that successful artists work in. 

1. The playful, child-like imaginative mode in which you are riffing with new ideas and in a state of flow. 

2. The grown-up, knuckle-down let's-get-this-done mode. 

In the recording studio, in film studios, in the artist's studio, one has to be able to flit from one mode to the other. Playfully think of something new or combine existing elements into something new and then knuckle down and make it happen. Back and forth. 

Nobody has put it better than John Cleese in this talk. I recommend that you have a listen.

Bobby x