How To Make Stuff (Lana Del Rey ‘Video Games’ Remix)

So Ian from Clique sends an email: the people handling Lana Del Rey have decided to let us pitch in a remix for the upcoming big PR fanfare début single launch. Of course, no guarantees of anything whatsoever, least of all money, and can we have it in a week? Any later is too late, zero chance of an extension.

I look at the Calendar. I am currently booked solid every day, Ian’s got the club to deal with, nobody’s had a break in weeks. It boils down to: we could maybe do three evening sessions to a total of about ten hours if we cut back on frivolities like eating and sleeping.

There’s no fucking way, I tell him. It just can not be done.

Later that evening, or rather at 3:50 in the morning, I am sat at the mixing desk playing back what we’ve made. It sounds colossal. It sounds like Stevie Nicks and Kate Bush have collaborated in the construction of a spook-pop android, which has then sucked out both their life forces and fashioned them into this gleaming chrome hover-train of a song. Needs a mix and a tweak and whatnot, but it’s basically done. And, at this slightly deranged been-awake-too-long moment, is sounding absolutely killer.

It’s a funny old business, the creative process. There are lots of ways to not engage with it. “Waiting for inspiration” is useless, it won’t come. “Experimenting” is fairly useless, it’s another word for “screwing around”. “Making sure your studio is a good space for creativity” is a brilliant one. That’s interior decoration, and is about as far away from actually making stuff as you can get. Anything you do to create the right “vibe” is unadulterated procrastination.

Basically, you’re either the kind of person who has good ideas or you’re not, and if you’re not, no amount of eccentrically placed soft furnishings is going to make a blind bit of difference. So you might as well assume the ideas you have are good, and get on and actually make them.

The best way to make something, be it a record, a painting, a meal, whatever, is to set yourself the goal of making something, and then make it. Do it, finish it, move on. If it’s rubbish, you can throw it away and never show it to anybody.

However, the more and more you do this, the less and less rubbish your results will be. Finish it, move on. It’s critically important to finish stuff. 50 half-finished novels are exactly zero percent as valuable as one finished one. In fact, they’re arguably of less value than never having written anything at all. That’s all time you’re never getting back.

That song on your hard drive that you’ve tinkered with for a year, because it’s “not quite right”? It isn’t “not quite right”, it’s crap, or you’d have nailed it ages ago. Delete it, forget about it. Start something else. Decide to finish it in a week. Actually finish it. Move on.

(Big-headed update: Initially, the label went for this as an internet-only promotional thing. However, having racked up a half million plays on YouTube, they bowed to popular demand and it became the lead track on the European remix package. That’ll do me for a few days’ work).