Elliot Jay Stocks is a designer, speaker, and author. He is the Creative Director of Adobe Typekit, the founder of typography magazine 8 Faces, one half of Viewport Industries, and an electronic musician.

Studio diary 2013: part 1

Posted on 09 January 2013 9 comments

Article illustration for Studio diary 2013: part 1

Over the Christmas holidays and a number of days in December, I was lucky enough to dedicate some time to my seldom-served hobby of music-making. I’ve been threatening to make some new music for a while now, so it seems only fitting that my first post of 2013 should be the first part in documenting the creation of that music.

I feel more excited and energised by music-making now than I have in years, and I think there are two very specific reasons for that:

  • The first is that I’ve stopped trying to create something that’s ‘complete’. I’m composing, recording, mixing, and re-mixing as I go, letting unexpected outcomes shape the music rather than fit the tracks to any specific ideas I have in my mind. Everything is about experimentation and each new render of a song sounds totally different from the last. It’s completely different to the way I approach design, and has allowed me to create a number of solid ideas within a relatively small time frame.
  • The second reason is that I’ve abandoned the ‘Sourhaze’ moniker I’ve used for music-making for the last eleven years, freeing myself of all the baggage that came with it; specifically the really old guitar-heavy albums on which I attempted to (cough) sing. The music I’m making now couldn’t be more different and is — hopefully — much better. The new music does have some stuff in common with the last Sourhaze EP I put out (for which you can now once again pay what you want, by the way), but I still see this as a separate beast. (I’ll go into the new moniker, ‘Skull Tubes’, at a later date.)

As well as the overall enjoyment, I’m happy to say that the last few weeks have been very, very productive. I have a bunch of new songs; some in their very early stages, some surprisingly near completion. My plan for the weekend is to gather them all together and work out which ones need my immediate attention, with the aim of finishing three to go onto the first EP. So far it looks like I’m going to stick with the plan to release a new EP every two months, with a properly mastered album at the end of the year.

I’m going to be compiling a couple of medleys soon, too, to give you all a taster of the various tracks I’m working on. After all, how I can I ask people to subscribe if they have no idea where things are heading? Until then, though, here’s a little teaser: a rough mix of a new song called ‘Not A Place To Forget’. If you don’t see the player below, you can listen directly on Soundcloud.

I hope you like what you hear! It’s a rough mix for sure, although this is one of the tracks that’s a little closer to completion than the others, so I don’t foresee any major changes apart from a tighter mix.

Looking forward to sharing lots more music with you in the coming weeks and months!


  1. Dave


    10 January 2013 @ 12:04PM #

    Hi Elliot,

    I’ve long had an interest in the method of making music, particularly the ‘electronic’ styles.

    Do you have any advice for learning the process, skills, etc? I’ve found the following quite useful, http://howtomakeelectronicmusic.com/how-to-make-electronic-music-with-computer-where-to-start, but it would be good to read other opinions and methods.

  2. Mark


    10 January 2013 @ 12:53PM #

    I second Dave’s comment. As the very fortunate owner of Garage Band, Logic and Ableton I have the tools, a smattering of talent and patience but don’t have a decent jumping in point.

    A piece written by someone who’s gone through the learning process not a million years ago would be fabulous.

  3. Elliot Jay Stocks

    Elliot Jay Stocks

    10 January 2013 @ 12:57PM #

    @ Dave & Mark: Thanks for the comments, guys. It’s funny: I’ve been asked this question a lot from a design perspective, but never related to music. As such, I think I need to give it some serious thought before answering. Perhaps it might even warrant its own blog post? Thanks for making me thinking about it — watch this space!

  4. Justin Reynolds

    Justin Reynolds

    10 January 2013 @ 03:10PM #

    Thanks for the post Elliot, and I enjoyed the sample. Look forward to hearing the other tracks you’ve been working on. I agree that digital music is fascinating, but very time consuming, if you want to do it properly. So it makes sense to release material in a piecemeal fashion, as you’re doing. Regarding the questions in the comments about how to get started, I personally have found it useful to get a good grounding in music theory before diving too deeply into the technical aspects of whatever DAW one might be using. There are some decent online tutorials and courses, but I’ve found the trilogy of books by Michael Hewitt to provide a really good foundation, starting with Music Theory for Computer Musicians.

  5. Vincent


    10 January 2013 @ 05:03PM #

    I also own Logic9 and wants to make music, but didn’t find a jumping in point.

  6. Shane Da Silva

    Shane Da Silva

    10 January 2013 @ 05:24PM #

    Hey Elliot, not bad for a rough mix. This guy might be of some inspiration to you. He has a similar sound.


  7. James Stiff

    James Stiff

    10 January 2013 @ 05:40PM #

    Hi Elliot

    Lovely, atmospheric track and intriguing concept (release via subscription). I’m looking forward to hearing how things progress and hope it’s a huge success.

    As a fellow designer and massive fan of electronic music, I’ve been toying with the idea of switching Photoshop for Logic/Ableton for some time now. You may just have inspired me to make a more concerted effort!

    PS. You might be interested in checking out the recently revived TEFOSAV (http://tefosav.com). A loose collective of electronic musicians, originally set up in the late ’90s by a bunch of former Warp Records message board regulars.

  8. Chris Wallace

    Chris Wallace

    10 January 2013 @ 05:53PM #

    Have you ever considered doing Kickstarter for something like this? I imagine you could raise a fair bit of support up front and give yourself some goals as well as provide “fans” with the ability to purchase some exclusive stuff that goes along with it. Not sure this type of thing fits with the typical Kickstarter project, but I love how various projects provide some exclusive extras to folks that provide a lot of monetary support.

    Just a thought.

  9. Conor MacNeill

    Conor MacNeill

    11 January 2013 @ 12:04PM #

    Good to see you back at the music again! It’s been too long :) The new track is sounds very nice! I can seem the similarities with the old Sourhaze EP, but with perhaps a darker edge to it. Sounds like more of an influence of the likes of Reznor and Trentemøller, which is nice!

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