Listening to the same things over and over again can kill your creative process, warns Taylor Swift.
“I think you need to change up your influences,” she recently told USA Today. “I think you need to be inspired by different things than you were inspired by before.”
Swift, who is about to start working on new songs for her next album, revealed that she often scraps new ideas if they sound too familiar to her. “I may like it, but if it’s going to sound like the last record it is going to get thrown away,” she said.
She also confessed that her songwriting is often spurred by anxiety. “When the anxiety starts, the writing happens right after, usually,” she said.
Many leading songwriters agree that is important to seek inspiration by listening to plenty of new things – even genres that you haven’t considered before. It can help you to start thinking differently about your own songs.
For example, Taylor’s good friend Ed Sheeran recently revealed that his follow-up to his 2011 debut album is likely to include a broad mix of influences. In an interview with MTV News, he even hinted that it could feature some hip-hop and rap-metal songs. He recently recorded a track with rapper and hip-hop star The Game.
“I’m actually writing very specific songs to genres at the moment,” he said. “I’ve got a whole album of one genre and enough to make another of another genre.”
US singer-songwriter Ben Harper also feels it is important to listen to other kinds of music. “That’s how new ideas come,” he said, “and how musical inspiration is passed on—through other music and other brilliant artists. Listen to whatever pulls you in different musical directions so that you don’t start copying yourself.”
Critically-acclaimed British songwriter and guitarist Richard Thompson once told Innerviews magazine: “Someone very wise said ‘Copy everyone except yourself’. Looking at other people’s ideas and twisting them to fit your own style is a good thing.”
He added: “It’s important to keep searching and not go for the obvious idea.”
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