How do you manage to ally music production and studies? Is the balance possible?

Definitely possible! It’s really all about managing your time and working on music whenever you get the chance. This is really the case with any hobby that involves practicing and gaining skill, the more time you put into it, the better off you’ll be. Since it can be tough to balance the timing while also being in school, the small moments start to add up. Maybe 30 minutes in the morning before my first lecture, or a 15 minute break between classes, maybe I get to work on a project for a while before bed, the time slowly starts to add up and it is easily manageable.

I think it’s slightly ironic that without that repetitive structure, each day would be empty and lead to a more monotonous life; without the structure of school I’d just wake up every day and work on music until I get burnt out, then waste time until I go to bed and wake up the next day.

In your video, we get the sense of a certain monotony, but also of a highly organized environment. Is repetivity and especially repeating important daily tasks and goals essential to reach your goals both in music production and studies?

Certainly. It’s only really monotonous in the sense that I do go to school every day, but this repetitive nature provides structure to each day. Knowing full well what my schedule for each day is ahead of time helps to save a lot of time for working on both music and school. In that sense, I think it’s slightly ironic that without that repetitive structure, each day would be empty and lead to a more monotonous life; without the structure of school I’d just wake up every day and work on music until I get burnt out, then waste time until I go to bed and wake up the next day. So the variety of having a planned out schedule helps prevent me from getting burnt out and ultimately makes my days less monotonous.

How do you manage to finish tracks, work on your cover arts, release your songs, distribute your songs and promote them at the same time? Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed?

It’s definitely overwhelming! I like to hold myself to a certain standard in everything I do, music included. So there’s a pressure I put upon myself to only release something I am extremely proud of, and that makes me work on a song tirelessly until it’s perfect in my eyes. Then the process of creating the cover art (only recently did I start to reach out to a third party to manage that), distributing and promoting the songs on top of all that is somehow even more stressful than the act of creating the final product itself. Usually, the few weeks leading up to a release are very stressful, but it’s always worth it.

Your video shows how you divide the different music production parts (melody writing/ rhythm section/ effects). Is a well-organized timetable, divided amongst different music production processes even more important when you have to study on the side?

I actually don’t really use a timetable or any schedule of sorts when producing music. It really is a hobby first things first, and an art, second. By that I mean whenever I go to make music, I rarely ever have a goal in mind – I just make what comes to mind. Maybe someday I feel inspired to create a chord progression that carries a particular mood – so I’ll start an Ableton session and work on music theory. Maybe another day I really want to try out a new sound, so I start a new project and work on sound design. Other times I want to experiment with new genres, so I’ll create a new file and work on song structure. In that sense I hardly ever tell myself I need to get something done by a certain time, I let the process take over and the result comes naturally. Only when I can envision a project becoming a full song is when I do my best to work on getting it finished in a timely manner.

“The small 15-minute in-between times in your life a perfect to practice music by producing, writing, playing instruments, even watching a quick video on music theory.”

What’s your advice for people who are in the same situation than you (or even worse)? What are some tips you would give them?

I’ve said it before and I stand by it, if you genuinely want to improve your music production skills but are on a strict schedule, be it through school, work, or any other reason, just put in the time whenever you can. The small 15-minute in-between times in your life a perfect to practice music by producing, writing, playing instruments, even watching a quick video on music theory. Whatever it may be, the knowledge you gain from even that small of a time is something you didn’t have before, and you can use that going forward. Start adding those up, and your process becomes quicker as it becomes more comfortable to you, allowing you to make more in less time – not to mention at a higher quality too!

In your opinion, is being dedicated to music a threat to your career if you are studying something else than music or music production?

Not at all. I’m in a position where I am graduating and have been able to gain skills toward my major over the past few years as I should have. School has always been the first priority, since it will lead to my career down the road and is what I’m passionate about. The music hobby on the side is simply something I liked to do when I finished all my schoolwork, and have only gained a small amount of success as a result of what I did in my free time. Does it sometimes serve as a distraction from school? No doubt, if I get really invested in a music project or making YouTube video related to that, I want to focus on school less and more on that project. But in the end, it won’t be a threat to my career, rather something to look forward to when I get home from a long day of work down the road.

Where do you find inspiration for your songs? Can college be an inspirational place?

All over the place, and yes, college can easily be inspirational. My biggest inspirations are artists I enjoy listening to, knowing if I put my skills to the test and dedicate a little bit of time I could make something someone else may like equally as myself listening to them. Other times it’s after watching a video, explaining how to make a certain genre of song, explaining sound design, or music theory. That usually makes me want to go experiment for myself.

“Learning about the cutoff filters, sound waves, frequency values, etc. was extremely technical and I never expected an electrical engineering class to tie into my music; but sure enough as I went into my software and used the Equalizer effect plugins, I had a better grasp of understanding its fundamentals and ultimately helped me create a cleaner mix.”

Does your academic path help you be more inspired when you do in fact produce?

Sometimes at college there will be bursts of inspiration as well, for example I once took an electrical engineering course which was as technical as it sounds, but a lecture one day covered how to make certain circuits. In this case, the real life hardware we were building was a low-pass filter, designed to eliminate lower frequencies in a speaker. Learning about the cutoff filters, sound waves, frequency values, etc. was extremely technical and I never expected an electrical engineering class to tie into my music; but sure enough as I went into my software and used the Equalizer effect plugins, I had a better grasp of understanding its fundamentals and ultimately helped me create a cleaner mix. Things like that in school, even though they may be more technical and not as creative, surprisingly help inspire me to create music.

People engage in different activities (sports, arts & dance, socializing) on campus. These are supposed to be “stress-relievers”. How does music production help you in your daily life in that respect? Does it have the same effect?

Yes! I treat music production as a stress reliever, it’s something I want to be doing in my free time, not something I have to do. The creative nature of making music is a nice contrast to the formal, technical world of Computer Science Engineering, so it’s a good way to fill my life with variety.

The music theory is similar to learning a programming language, it has rules and guidelines you must follow if you want your final product to turn out nice.

Do you see parallels between studying engineering and producing music?

Certainly, I know I just mentioned engineering isn’t as creative as music and I stand by that, but there are certainly creative aspects to it. Coming up with various solutions to any given problem is a creative skill. In music, knowing your workstation is invaluable (do you know your DAW, your plugins, etc.) and in engineering, at least computer science specifically, knowing your workstation is equally as invaluable (do you know your IDE, your frameworks, etc.). Ultimately it really is knowing what tools you have to make what it is you want to make. The other way around is also true, music can easily be technical if you want it to be – at its core, making music is creative as it can express your feelings. However the music theory is similar to learning a programming language, it has rules and guidelines you must follow if you want your final product to turn out nice.

Can every college student use his area of study to be more inspired when producing music?

I would imagine so. Even if technical concepts don’t carry over directly, indirect skills you gain from your major can easily be tied into producing music if you think about it right. Or at the very least, the feelings you have after a day of working on school, the emotions you have from being in your major, can easily inspire you to write a certain piece of music. Inspiration is everywhere!

Do you sometimes doubt on what your future will be made of? Do you think you’ll have to give up one career or the other at a certain point? Or can both coexist?

I often think about this. I am in a bit of a strange place in that aspect at the time of me writing this; I am about to graduate and receive my diploma in less than a month. From here I will go out in the real world, get a job involving my area of study, and most likely have less time to work on music or the YouTube channel.However, I’ve received such positive feedback (which I’m very grateful for!) and grown enough recently where I could turn this music hobby into a career if I were to dedicate a ton of time to it moving forward. It may not be the most lucrative career at first, and who knows what it would turn into, but it would pay the bills.

However, the degree I will receive from school would be a more comfortable lifestyle financially. There’s this push-and-pull between these two aspects of my life, but ultimately I imagine music will continue to be a hobby. Will I still be able to release songs and videos publicly under the alias InspirAspir? Not quite sure. At the very least, will it be something I like to do in my free time even if I keep it private and don’t release content to the world? Definitely.

You just released your first EP “Dreamland”, what’s next?

Thanks! Yeah more or less same as above, next major milestone in my life is graduating, and seeing where that takes me. I don’t have any major music-related plans for the coming future, but I do have some YouTube video ideas I am working on in the meanwhile (mostly music tutorials). From here, I am just seeing where life takes me. Same as it’s always been, and it always seems to work out!

InspirAspir

Contributor

InspirAspir is a music producer and Youtuber with a passion for all things music related. After watching Launchpad videos in his dorm room in 2014, he decided to get his own, which exposed him to Ableton Live. The software eventually led to an interest in making music, sparking his music production journey in 2015. He has since released many singles and remixes, with the most recent release being his first EP, Dreamland.

 

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