Josh Ferrer

Trumpeter - Educator - Arranger

Filtering by Category: Music

Creative Space

“Coffee has always been a significant part of my life. For me, it's a chance to start my day and gather my thoughts - it's fuel for my creative process” -Conner Franta

Having a space to create is important in any creative’s life. For some, that space can be in their own room, the local coffee shop, family room, spare bedroom, business building, and for those few, maybe even your restroom. Point is, every creative I know needs a set space where they can go to focus on their craft and not be interrupted. For those of you reading this who don’t have a designated space to create, find a space! If home isn’t an ideal option for you, there are plenty of spaces to freely create at your own liking. 

Here’s a little about me in regards to my current space. I moved back home with my folks about three years ago now. I originally moved back home to help my family with my grandparents who were home due to illness. I had just moved from a one bedroom duplex in Hollywood, which I loved. Prior to that I had moved from a one bedroom back house in La Jolla which was minutes away from the beach. The plan was to stay at home until my grandmother passed. Unfortunately, she passed due to cancer about two years ago. So it’s three years now at home and I’m still there. Part of the reason why I’m still there is to allow me to pay off some debt and start saving some money to buy a house, which would be a dream of mine to check off. To have my own space to create and to say that I “own” it would be the dream, in my opinion. One on to my current space…

My room is a decent size where I have too much stuff in it, mostly what seems to be car parts lately. I have most of the room padded down with sound panels and foam to absorb some of the sound to be able to practice whenever I’d like. My desk is giant, where I spend most of my time. I have a sixty-one key midi keyboard attached to my MacBook Pro, which I dock. Attached to my laptop is a twenty-seven inch 4K display, which I have hooked up via DisplayPort, a Focusrite Clarett 4Pre that is hooked up to Yamaha HS8’s and have a Royer R-121 next to my desk so that I can record whenever. I have some hard drives easily accessible on my desk at any moment to save and store what I create. So as far as a space setup, it’s an ideal space to create, right?

I don’t consider my own room at home a creative space for myself. I sometimes feel more creative at Starbucks around the corner than I do at my own house. You would think it would be my creative space since I have all of those tools right at my fingertips but truth is it isn’t the most ideal for me because of distractions. There are six people living in my home, two of which are kids that feel the need to disrupt whenever they please. I really don’t mind it but knowing that in the back of my head there is always someone home that could walk in at in moment is a distraction to me. 

In analyzing myself and my workflow, if I were to look at an hour of creative flow, forty-five minutes is spent with my mind wandering, figuring out how I’m going to complete whatever I want to create and about fifteen minutes of me intently doing that creating. Now where I come short is, if I spend forty-five minutes with my mind wandering and you walk in, I immediately relapse and go back into that forty-five minute state of mind. It can, at times, be frustrating because I feel like I’m not productive. This is why I sometimes don’t come home because I’ll have a creative high somewhere else and I don’t want it to end. I spend lots of time at Starbucks because nobody bothers me there and I can sort out some thoughts and begin to create. Once I can grasp whatever it is I want to do, sort out a plan of how I am going to do it it, then I go home and finish whatever I started. I’m finding that my room is where I go to finish my creative flow and not to start it. The creative juices don’t flow at home so I don’t spend my time there. I like spending time at friend’s studios where I can draw inspiration as well.

My creative space will change as I move. With the exception of being back home, every place I’ve lived previously on my own was my space because nobody could interrupt me. I could turn off my phone and sit and let the flow begin. So why haven’t I moved yet if this space is so important? Honestly, part of me not moving yet is because I’ve been lazy and quite frankly, comfortable. Ideally, I’d like to buy a house but it isn’t doable right at this moment because I still don’t have a nice down payment. I also hate moving. The older I get, the more stuff I’ve acquired and it’s just a lot to lug around nowadays. Good news though, I am currently looking for a place. I would like to have a three bedroom house. Maybe rent a room out and have the extra room as my music/creative space. I should be in a new space soon!

The point of this post is to make light of how essential a dedicated space to create is crucial in any creative’s life. If your place of creativity is at the park down the street, then awesome! If you feel your space to freely and openly think is at your local coffee shop, then by all means create there! If your space is in the restroom, then that’s your space! I hear the acoustics are pretty awesome in a restroom…heard that from a friend….For those of you reading this who feel you deem yourself as a creative and don’t have a space, find one! Finding a place to be creative isn’t difficult. The important part in finding a place though is comfort, at least in my opinion. I have colleagues that have access to buildings of business after hours so that they can sit quietly and think. Maybe you know somebody that owns a business that closes early where you can go rent their space after hours to create your art. There’s no harm in asking.

When entering your space to create, make sure you are prepared. For you drawing artists, bring your art supplies to draw whatever it is you imagine. For those of you looking to write melody and harmony, bring some staff paper, pencils and plenty of erasers. Bring a recording device too to remember melodies for later use in case. For you music production creators, make sure you have your laptop and midi keyboard with your sounds accessible to create freely. I could go on and on as far as making sure you have the right tools when entering your creative space but I think you get the idea. Just be prepared! I always have my gear with me as well as a good pair of headphones to sit down and listen to draw inspiration.

To conclude this segment, a creative space is crucial in any creative’s life. Where’s yours?


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‘Tis The Season To Create

To create something exceptional, your mindset must be relentlessly focused on the smallest detail. - Giorgio Armani

The season is here folks! The season to create!

In talking and hanging with multiple people over the course of the last couple of months, it seems as though it’s a good season for everybody. Friends and colleagues are recording tunes, putting out albums, painting beautiful images, capturing beautiful sights, and the list goes on. It truly is inspiring to see so many  of you creating art despite what is going on in the world today. It’s inspiring to see people push through no matter what brings them down in their own personal lives.

I, myself, have been creating. I’ve been working on writing tunes for a while now but took a break because of work. Every summer I work too many days and hours and used that as an excuse to take a break, which I really shouldn’t do. No more excuses! I’m in a season of creating because I feel inspired and on fire. This current fire to create is honestly fueled a little by heartbreak but sometimes that’s all you need to get it going, right? I mean, I’m not going all Gloria Gaynor status during this time and writing songs like “I Will Survive” to say “screw you, loser” but this heartbreak has forced me to face truths about myself that are causing me to dig deeper and reflect on my own life which have been beneficial in writing. All of these truths I am facing have allowed me to take a step back, view certain aspects of my life from different perspectives and write from a more honest point. I’m drawn to music that is soulful and raw which is what I’d like to convey. 

I have been taking the time to listen deeper to records that inspire me. I’m talking about listening deeper as in putting a good old pair of cans on and staring at a wall as I listen to music. I have been freeing myself of all distractions and surrounding myself with this music. I’ve been listening to lyrics, melodies, harmony and nuances that make a great song with closer attention to detail than I ever have. There are millions of songs out there but not all of them are great. What makes a song great? It’s a hard question to answer because I think it’s so subjective to everyone’s personal tastes but as I listen deeper, I think what makes a song great in any genre is balance. When I think balance in a great song, I think how well melodies fit in with the harmony around it. Of course sonically speaking, balance in the mix is important as well but for me, balance between melody and harmony is where it’s at. It’s what draws my attention and makes me want to listen closely.

As a horn player, I naturally gravitate towards horn players and instrumental music. I have a huge list of favorites but at the top of my list lies Roy Hargrove. His ‘Earfood’ album is killin’! It’s all acoustic and funky. That album is what I’m basing my writing off of. The whole thing is soulful and honestly simple. Nobody is trying to outdo anybody. It’s raw. They’re all playing together and they’re all playing tasty. Roy wrote some genius melodies that, in my opinion, fit in perfectly with the harmony on that entire album. When I listen to the album, I hear well thought out ideas and melodies. There was purpose behind everything on that record, including mistakes! Roy left a lot of mistakes on the album that give it character, which is something I like about it too. It gives it that human factor that inspires me. The album is not perfect which makes it perfect, if that makes any sense?

Here’s a live recording of a tune called ‘Soulful’ that Roy wrote. Listen to it. It’s so simple yet so beautiful. There are literally like six chords in the tune yet they make it soulful, see what I did there? 

Another favorite artist of mine is Emily King. She’s someone who inspires me with her melodies and her lyrics. I would also consider her music as simple but very elegant. Her music has balance with her melodic voice soulfully fitting into the harmony. I’ve always admired musicians who can write lyrics and fit them so effortlessly into melodies. Maybe one day I can write some lyrics myself! But first, instrumental album needs to be released!

I can sit here and list every one of my favorite artists that inspire me but that would just take forever. The reason why I named only a couple artists were to give an example of what I would consider balance but also to state that you need to listen out to music that inspires you to grow in your own craft. I really want to write tunes but I never learned how. My way of learning is by listening with more detail and trying to emulate what I hear. If you feed your imagination with what you’re trying to do and sound like, you’re more likely to sound that way. That’s something I picked up at Citrus College studying trumpet performance with Bob Slack. It’s how I go about learning music.

A good friend of mine, Brian Ward, who is an amazing musician, has taught me some about honing in on specific types of music. I did a gig with Brian up in Northern California and since I decided to fly back on this trip (I always like to drive myself), I asked to ride in the car with him since he was driving himself. It was interesting watching him select the music he wanted to listen to. I respect Brian soo much because he is such a great musician. We were listening to Tom Misch in the car and I said , “Hey, since you like Tom, you’d like so and so!” He was like eh, they’re great but I’m listening to these kinds of artists because this is what I’d like to play and sound like. It may have seemed picky from my end but it was very oddly cool for me. It explained why he gets soo good at the styles of music he plays. I get distracted very easily. That’s why it takes me forever to write my own stuff because I listen to everything and I want to do everything and although it’s cool that I listen to everything, it doesn’t always help with productivity for me. That is also another reason why I only named two artists above because I’ve been listening a lot to them because I want to have that sound.

So to conclude this post, I do believe that this time right now is the season to create. Find what inspires you and use it as fuel to recreate and make it your own! Put it out there for the world to see. Take a risk! You never know, maybe in a hundred years, someone could come across your art and love it and inspire them to creat their own. You also never know how it night inspire someone to better their own life.

I’ll keep listening and writing out what inspires me and moves me to be a better human. Keep an eye out for my stuff!

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© 2019 Josh Ferrer