by Pete Hobbs aka Diving At Dawn
Diving At Dawn has always been a frustrating stop-start affair for me. I’ve never been able to be genuinely productive and build momentum with it because I find working alone so tricky. As part of a band or production team, I’m pretty efficient, but when the responsibility falls solely upon my shoulders, I become a procrastinating perfectionist of epic proportions. The lack of productivity in my solo work has caused me a fair bit of anxiety over the years, but I’ve always been busy enough with other projects to distract myself. However, in 2022 my anxiety levels went through the roof. Unfortunately, age, experience, budget constraints, and technology have all conspired against me, thus turning Diving At Dawn into a genuine one-person band.
Listen to the song while reading the text.
My Step Dad Nick had been seriously ill with cancer since 2021 and was given a stem cell transplant in early 2022. The transplant seemed to work fine until November 2022, when it suddenly wasn’t. This was a huge shock and sent my family and me reeling into a very dark place. I did what I always do in times of distress and sought solace in music, deciding to push ahead with new Diving At Dawn music. Unfortunately, there was no solace to be found, just gut-wrenching anxiety. For two months, I worked every spare minute on new recordings but could not finish anything. Stuck at invisible hurdles, my inner critic was more brutal than ever before. Even though there was no demand or deadline for my music, I put myself under tremendous pressure and felt like a total failure. Time suddenly became very precious, and it seemed to be running out. I knew I was in trouble when I played my girlfriend four subtle variations of the same guitar solo and asked which one she preferred (to me, they sounded drastically different), but I could tell by the confused look on her face that she couldn’t tell them apart. I was totally lost in detail, going around in circles about my own creation.
A breakthrough came on Dec 30th when I received an email invite from Damian Taylor to join The Complete Producer Network. Damian is a grammy nominated producer and mix engineer; he’s worked with Bjork, Arcade Fire, and The Prodigy, to name but a few. He runs workshops and courses on different aspects of music making, from practical recording techniques to streamlining creative processes and maximizing productivity. There are also weekly online hangouts with music-making folk where I could talk openly about my challenges. Several books also proved helpful. I was fully immersed in The McCartney Legacy by Kozinn and Sinclair, a 700-page, day-to-day diary of Paul McCartney’s work life from 1969 – 1973. A total nerd fest; I found the section on McCartney 1 particularly inspiring. The War Of Art by Steven Pressfield is a fantastic book designed explicitly for expert procrastinators like me. And finally, Rick Rubin’s The Creative Act is a work of genius. He speaks about redefining expectations, using each piece of work as a stepping stone to the next. Whatever I don’t get right on the current recording, maybe I could get right the next one or one after that. The emphasis is on macro and moving forward.
Knowing I had to get out of my way and approach everything differently, I made a decision to record a fresh new song from scratch, ditching everything I’d been toiling over in the previous few months. I gave myself a strict deadline and a few rules and limitations, something I’d always resisted before. Every instrument would be played by me and recorded in one whole take. There would be no programming and minimal editing, and I would work fast and not get stuck on minor details. Lying By Myself is the result of this crazy phase of my life; in the end, it took three days to record and mix, a world record for me. Knowing that I’m capable of working like this, unobstructed by myself, has been an enormous relief, and I feel in a good place to start getting productive.
Remarkably, defying all the Doctors’ expectations, Nick’s cancer has now gone into remission and his donor stem cells are back working at 100%. Now onto the next track.
The Complete Producer Network