Tricks to get out of creative slumps

By | April 6, 2021

33133899_CeciliaNordlund1_red.jpg.7e65695034cfe2162175c3159c1ff190.jpgCecilia Nordlund. (Photo: Anna Drvnik)

With the band Cecilia & Fullmånen Från Helvetet, she creates suggestive “oljudspop” in Swedish and in 2018 released the album Åska & Blod. She has previously collaborated with artists such as Fever Ray and Marit Bergman and fronted the band Souls, among others. With the drive to spread knowledge about how important making music is for her own health, she teaches at Malmö Academy of Music and does regular school tours via Creative School. She also composes for film and theater and this autumn she is currently creating music for and participating in a newly written performance by Erik Holmström at the Folkteatern in Gothenburg.

VIDEO: The song Fruit & children from the album Thunder & Blood

What does your creative process usually look like?
-The best thing is if someone forces me to do a song. I need deadlines or being shipwrecked on a desert island with endless time and being bored. I’m far too rare nowadays with an attention-grabbing spooky dog, children and piles of dirty laundry to be sorted and washed and a mobile that screams at me to check different apps exactly all the time.

-Once I sit down and write a song, the process is different. Lyrics for my punk band The Dead Meat, I and the band usually play and flare up, but the lyrics to The Full Moon from Hell can be a long and often painful process. I am actively struggling with myself and self-hatred. Fortunately, I have become better at not listening to the evil voices in my head that diss everything I do. Nowadays, I think that my only task as a songwriter is to constantly do and produce – not to judge myself.

Where do you find your inspiration?
-I have walked forward many songs and melodies. I like to go far, preferably through ugly and abandoned industrial areas and without any direct goal. Inspiration for me comes when I calm the noise inside – out of silence and contemplation.

-Contemporary also inspires, of course, we live in a turbulent time and I think a lot about how I can contribute to the world going in the right direction. There is so much injustice and oppression around society that makes me both scared and angry. There, music becomes like therapy. Reading books, poetry, watching movies and going to theaters, concerts and museums is also good. Eavesdropping on the bus can also work.

What advantages and disadvantages do you see in working with a profession that often requires being creative to order?
-Firstly, I have made sure that I am completely free. I release all the music myself – how and when I want. In addition, I earn most of my living teaching songwriting, which allows me to do exactly what I want and never compromise.

-When I write music for theater, being creative on “commission” is not a problem for me. For me, it can be almost easier to be creative with frameworks and limitations. It is a nice break to be part of a larger context when I am part of a theater ensemble during certain periods. Life as a freelance creative can be very lonely at times.

638882885_CeciliaNordlund2_red.jpg.cf4dec30d4d6eac08a200df4e7925138.jpgCecilia Nordlund. (Photo: Åsa Wallin)

Can you share some tricks you usually use to get out of creative slumps?

  • Turn off the internet! Throw your cell phone on the floor

  • Set deadlines

  • Never expect to be satisfied. I have accepted that I will never be happy. The goal is only to always do, be curious and come up with new ideas

  • Let people you trust decide what are “good” or “bad” ideas. For my part, people I play with get to decide if my different song ideas are good or not for myself, I have no idea. It has happened several times that the songs I think are good, the band is not so impressed by but the ideas that I myself thought were very embarrassing or self-disclosing, the band has lifted up and so it has become fantastic songs

  • Do not compare yourself with others

  • Dare to try new paths and challenge yourself. Change instruments or write in another language, for example

  • Have fun and do not think that what you do is vital while it may be just that for someone else. A sad trend is that everyone thinks that one must be a world champion to be allowed to take a place. Everyone should play in a band because it’s one of the most fun things you can do with friends. Better for health too and more fun to do with your best friend than shopping

How do you work now during Corona times when we are asked to work from home?
-Now I teach via Zoom at the Academy of Music, which works surprisingly well and tomorrow my daughter will get a violin lesson via Zoom for the first time.

-When I write music together with others, I use Auddly which is a “song data hub” for co-write projects, designed and backed by Niclas Molinder, Max Martin and Björn Ulvaeus.A hot tip to check out!

Read more at Cecilia Nordlund’s website

The Monday interview is a recurring series that is published every other Monday, and where Studio writer Lotta Fahlén interviews interesting people about various topics in music creation.