Mandy Wigby is a musician, composer, music producer and educator. She has released albums and singles, and toured internationally with signed bands The Sisters Of Transistors and Lionrock. She has also created music and sound design for various multi-media projects and is currently part of the collective ‘The Architects Of Rosslyn”. More recent projects have seen her develop a “Sensory Soundpit” with Di Mainstone, Howard Jacobs and a team of coders for the European City of Science 2016 and Bradford Science and Media Museum’s SuperSenses 201 7. She has also been commissioned by Delia Derbyshire Day to write a piece inspired by Delia Derbyshire’s archive which has been performed at various events this year including Band on the Wall, Festival No 6 and Blue Dot Festival.
Here Mandy shares her top tips for composing and collaborating with other artists…
1) Don’t be afraid to try different approaches. Play around with different techniques when writing music. Allow yourself to play with no expectations. This freedom can sometimes unleash creative directions that you might never have found in your normal way of working. When using a computer explore your soundbanks, samples and past doodlings, you probably have more sounds than you realise. Could an old recording or sample inspire you to write a new piece?
2) Sometimes technology can offer so many possibilities, the choice can be overwhelming. You can sit in front of the computer for hours (yep been there). Say no to Facebook, emails and mobile phones. Switch them off. Set yourself a few parameters, e.g. four drum sounds, one synth and a sample and allow yourself to step outside this once you have something you like. Use shortcuts to speed up your workflow. Try Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies too – cards which offer challenges for artists and musicians to help break creative blocks. Be true to yourself and develop your own sound for more longevity. Don’t chase trends.
3) Active listening and sound walks to help the writing process. Try listening to your favorite music without focusing on anything else. Really focus in on the sounds. What are the characteristics? Do you recognise any of the production techniques? What is the chord structure? Be inspired. If you’re out walking take a recorder or your phone. Listen for sounds you like. Borrow a hydrophone mic and stick it in a pond, record creaking gates, perhaps you can process these sounds later and make them into something unrecognisable. Imagine yourself as a huge pair of ears on legs. Take inspiration from everything around you!
4) Realise the importance of working in a professional way. On any project learn everyone’s names (use a notebook if necessary) even if you’re only working together for one day and communicate what you need in a positive way. Be encouraging, a kind word goes a long way to creating a relaxed and happy atmosphere. When working with mixed media on a recent project with coders, and artists we developed our own key terms, a common language which we could all understand. This was so useful as we were all from different disciplines and creating something new together for the first time.