The guide to surviving a life in music, by those who know best...
Blur guitarist, solo songwriter, and soundtrack composer Graham Coxon...
MAKE THE MOST OF WHAT YOU’VE GOT
You don’t need a lot to make a great sound. I’ve released stuff that has been out there, played on the radio, been reviewed by Steve Lamacq, and it was just something I recorded very, very quickly one afternoon without really thinking about it.
DON’T GET LOST IN TECHNOLOGY
One thing I’ve learned now rather regrettably later on in life is that you don’t need an awful lot of stuff. Technology has gone beserk in the last 10 years or so, with the equipment you can get becoming getting smaller and cheaper and just better… I don’t think you need to use huge studios. Although I do love those huge studios, and all that beautiful gear and everything, you don’t really need that to create.
I think when you’re recording you have to be relaxed. I think if you’re uptight and stressed out then it shows. I can listen to some Blur stuff and I think sometimes there’s too many ideas in a song. We were very juicy – creatively – and we were not short of ideas ever, really, in songs, but sometimes I think the songs had too many. It was almost like you couldn’t move for hooks and ideas! It sounds to me a little bit stressful and un-relaxed, so I think you should try to be relaxed at all times, and give yourself space and time so you really know that it’s right.
USE YOUR LIMITATIONS
There’s a lot of excitement in cheap sounding stuff. Sometimes there’s just magic in something that has been recorded fast, where people say: let’s just do it! I’m not a great vocalist, I’m not a great anything, but I like an un-perfect perfection. There is a scruffiness to what I do, but it has to be a good balance of that with professionalism as well.
ACCEPT TENSION AS PART OF CREATION
I think people do have egos - however big or small they are, we do have them – and I think creative people want what they’re doing to be heard and appreciated. So everyone within a group is quietly jostling to be heard. It happened with Blur a lot. There was a lot of contrariness – playing-wise – between Alex and I, where we would stop up against each other, and that’s what would create the tension in a song. I think it’s always there.
I can’t help but compare myself to Damon, y’know, who never stops working! And I’ve said to him: jeez, are you going to take a break at some point? But he can’t! It’s like breathing to him. He writes, he creates… he’s been doing that 9 to 5 thing for years.
EMBRACE ALL GENRES
I’ve always loved music, my head is filled with it. It’s not just one type of music that I love, it’s not like it’s just one type of music that I’ve listened to since I was four years old. There’s so many different types.