It’s been a little while since I’ve written any music, but I have a ton of new ideas sitting in voice memos on my iPhone. Voice memos are crucial to my general workflow: listen to music -> hear things based on said music -> whistle or sing them into my phone -> weeks or months later do an intensive when I can set aside a big chunk of time -> make demos in Logic and sequence the voice memo ideas into songs. Some songs have been entirely linear senquences of my voice memo ideas (Bonfire, specifically, was constructed from like seven different unrelated ideas from over the course of 18 months). They percolate in my head once I have them down so I know I won’t forget them, and they combine with each other and become verses and choruses and calls.

I have my favorites likes everyone else within the genres I prefer, but I always treasure the first listen to something because a lot of new ideas seem to come out of that. Something about not being familiar with a song, not knowing where it’s going to go next because you’ve never heard it before, causes my brain to create the other places where I might have taken a phrase or song structure, the other notes I might have played over the chords. And that in turn leads to my own ideas, melodies that are only vaguely related to what I was listening to. Not that I haven’t been guilty of unconsciously lifting lines from old soukous records, I catch myself doing that from time to time. Sometimes I change it to fix it, and sometimes I just leave it. But the blank slate of the first listen often leads to my own new ideas, in ways that hearing old favorites probably never will.

– Adam