Creative Cycles: How Workflow Evolves Through the Year for These 5 Artists

Doing your best creative work is an ongoing project. 

You have to stay focused on making music no matter what time of the year it is.

But the changing seasons can have a big effect on how you work—and what you end up with.

Winter is here—at least in our little corner of the world.

So we asked six artists what happens to their process and workflow as the days grow shorter.

The results were pretty inspiring.

JON SOLO

“I’ve never thought of this question because I work all year round, all the time. However, when I listen back to my catalogue over the years I can hear emotional differences, not realizing it was most likely connected to the seasons.”

“In the winter, I tend to write and record moody, melancholy music on the piano. Spring is for new ideas, where I start in Ableton and create new tracks with fun rhythms.”

“Summer has always been about the feel good vibes, full of sun and positivity, generally on an acoustic guitar. And fall, brings me back to a more open sounding, spacey ambient vibe, using synthesizers and warm pads.”

More about JON SOLO

Ilhem

“I don’t believe there’s a constant routine or constant inspiration throughout the year. It works in phases, influenced by many factors.”

“I happened to be based most of my life in rather cold cities and it has indeed influenced my rhythm a lot. The 11 years I have spent in Berlin had me appreciate winter particularly as a special time to create, locking myself up in my cocoon and focusing during these long dark hours on meditating, developing music, ideas, lyrics and learn new things. One feels undisturbed, protected from the outside world, the colder the better to dive in.” 

“I have since cherished this season a lot as it helps me creating a routine and finding the inspiration within myself.
Now living on an island in the middle of Rotterdam (Netherlands), I just installed my studio facing the river and the sky and feel ready and excited to welcome this stormy northern winter. It’s becoming my favourite place on earth where I can be free to create, locking myself up for days, preparing a new live show and working focused on the EP I’m finishing, yet being inspired by the environment at the same time.

“On the opposite I sometimes feel nervous if I am in a creative process and set myself deadlines during the warmer seasons as I can get much more easily distracted and tempted. That’s how I create new daily rituals each season. In spring for example I would start the day goin gout for a run, witnessing this way the nature waking up and getting my « shot » if I otherwise must stay in and work. Summer rarely allows consistency therefore I embrace the inspiration it gives, the special moments shared with loved ones, travelling, playing gigs in beautiful places and more or less consciously planting seeds. 

“All of this is then being translated in my creative work sooner or later, digging for example in the notebooks I carry everywhere. I also need those moments of « being out there », interacting more with old and new friends and see the world.”

More about Ilhem

The Big Takeover

“Our creative process does not necessarily depend on the seasons. We are more busy with touring and appearances in the warmer months, so during the colder months, there is more writing happening. However, we have written many great songs in the summer and on the road.”

More about The Big Takeover

Farnell Newton

“I live in Portland, OR which is known for Mt. Hood, Voodoo Donuts, Stumptown Coffee and also for the rain. Fall in Portland inspires me tremendously in my lofi hip-hop/jazz music that I record and produce. Fall in Portland is perfect for warm fires, cozy nights on the couch with my family and early mornings with a cup of coffee. When you take all these occasions and add them with the sounds of wind, the rhythm of the rain drops and more is when I truly get inspired.”

“When it comes to my work flow I like to use those cozy couch times with my wife to work on chopping samples, and creating songs on the daily. I usually try to start and finished one song daily until I’m ready to head into my studio. From there is when I record all the horn parts for all the songs I’ve worked on daily over the week. I’m usually too busy on the road traveling during the spring and summer so Fall and Winter are my go-to prime time for creating music.”

“I’m going to leave you with one of my favorite quotes from author Ann Patchett from her book titled Truth and Beauty:”

“To say it was a beautiful day would not begin to explain it. It was that day when the end of summer intersects perfectly with the start of fall.

– Ann Patchett

More about Farnell Newton

Bishi

“Both summer & winter are personally symbolic, with their respective solstices symbolising a shift in the pattern of the world. The winter is the time for deep, inward, reflection. This comes out in the use of heavier sonic musical textures, when I’m writing and producing. The cold of winter is often hard & cruel, but I believe out of this darkness so much clarity can be achieved creatively. Every album, music project or EP usually is inspired by a new instrument or piece of technology and this journey begins in the winter. It’s a time to start new directions.”

“Whatever experiments, discussions & discoveries are made in the darker months, blossom in the lighter months awash with festivals and sun kissed evenings. Summer is a period of full bloom. The folkier side to my music, usually comes out in my writing & performance.”

It’s taken writing this to understand there was a pattern in the first place!”

More about Bishi

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