Machinedrum says an hourglass is crucial to his creative process: “The point was to just keep moving forward”

The North Carolina-born producer was mindful of staying objective during the making of his new album, 3FOR82.

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Credit: Ben Bentley

As a producer, it’s easy to dedicate too much time to a project in pursuit of perfection, so it’s important to have some kind of strategy in place to ensure you don’t fall victim to diminishing returns.

In the case of North Carolina-born producer Machinedrum – whose real name is Travis Stewart – he says he employs a technique that enables him to view a project objectively, and bin it off if necessary.

In a wide-ranging new interview with MusicTech, Stewart says that during the making of his latest LP 3FOR82, he used an hourglass to ensure he was taking regular scheduled breaks.

“I’d have an hourglass on my studio desk and turn it over when I started working on an idea,” he says. “When the hourglass ran out, I’d walk out of the studio for five or 10 minutes, come back and take a listen to the track, and if I felt like it was really worth continuing to flesh out whatever the idea was, then I would.

“And if I just really didn’t like it, that was another reason for me to move on and also not try to rescue the idea. The point was to just keep moving forward.”

As producers, we’re often susceptible to the sunk-cost fallacy, and fail to make truly objective decisions about a project if we’ve invested heavily into it in terms of time. So the idea of an hourglass dictating breaks and mitigating the feeling of heavy time investment in a project is definitely a smart one.

Elsewhere in the interview, Machinedrum dives deep on early software-based trackers, and his new album, which features vocal performances from the likes of Mick Jenkins, Duckwrth, Kučka, Jesse Boykins III and Tinashe, and fuses together hip-hop, d’n’b and IDM.

Listen to ZOOM, from 3FOR82, below:


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