Jack White, Minimalism, And Songwriting As Work

2014 Jan 06, 2014

Today I want you to listen to acclaimed  songwriter and artist Jack White (of the White Stripes) share his insights on what it means to be an artist and the process of creating music in this interview with Conan O’Brien. His perspective on the process is fascinating and (if you let it) will motivate you to get back to work on song creation in your studio. It’s over an hour long, but it’s worth it.


The Pressure To Create

One thing White mentions early on in this interview is how he works well under self inflicted pressure and deadlines. He will literally schedule studio time in order to be forced to write songs. If he were to wait until he had some songs ready it would take forever.

Like I talked about the other day, songwriting isn’t about inspiration as much as it is about hard work. If you want to create great songs, then work hard at your craft. All the greats do.

The Freedom Of Limitations

Another fascinating thing White mentions is his constant desire to work with limitations. He tries to get the best possible song and recording with the fewest parts necessary. He’s big into minimalism.

But part of what he likes about the limits of his minimalist mindset is that it frees him up. With fewer options he can just work within those “boundaries” and be free to create art. Another example of the paradox of choice and the power of limitations.

Get It Right At The Source

One final thing you’ll notice throughout this interview (and others) is that Jack White isn’t a fan of the modern DAW. Mostly for its ability to “fix” performances or create performances that weren’t even there to begin with.

Now, I have no problem with Pro Tools and other DAWs allowing me to tighten something up or pitch something a bit more in place, but I absolutely love his intent: he wants to get things right at the source.

His goal, every time the “record” button lights up is to perform to his absolute best. We should all strive to do the same. If we pretended there was no opportunity to mix things later, I think we would get better recordings.

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