On Radio 2 this morning, Alex Lester interviewed the Kaiser Chiefs (the inde rock band) about their creative process. It starts with a 'flash of inspiration' which may be a guitar or piano piece or some lyrics. This forms the main body of the song. The group then work together, playing, refining and developing the sound until it either works (i.e. it's sounds like Kaiser Chiefs') or it becomes clear it's not going to work. When it works, it can take just two hours to develop a song from scratch. And yet, even though they were 'desperate to get another album together', it took them almost a year to create their latest album, Yours Truly - eight months to write the songs and seven weeks to record them. When they are not writing they are busy playing and rehearsing. Key components of the Kaiser Chiefs' creative process seem to be:
- the flashes of inspiration
- being able to tell when what they are doing is working (i.e. it sounds like the Kaiser Chiefs) and when it is not working, which in turn implies that band members have a 'Kaiser Chiefs sound' in mind and that they somehow judge their new work against this sound
The process seems to have been motivated on this occasion by the 'desperation', which came from having to play 'b side' songs in their concerts in order to fill the time. It would be interesting to know where those flashes of inspiration come from, wouldn't it? And to understand more about how the band members recognise a Kaiser Chiefs sound, when it is also a new sound. My own 'flashes of inspiration' tend to come when I have been mulling a problem or puzzle over in my mind. Suddenly I have a solution or an idea. I have no way of knowing in advance when this will arrive - and sometimes I only recognise that I have been 'mulling' when I look back. It seems like all this goes on in the back of my mind while I'm busy with other things. More and more, I've come to trust that solutions to problems WILL turn up - as long as I don't try to rush them!
Where do your flashes of inspiration come from? And what do you call these moments? And when you are developing YOUR ideas, do you look for a good fit between the new idea and a pre-existing template or model, like the Kaiser Chiefs? Or do you have another way of judging whether something is working or not?