Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie on How Technology Affects His Songwriting

Technology in music, particularly with guitars and drum machines, has advanced so much over the years. How does that affect how you write songs in general?

That’s a pertinent question; I’m actually in the middle of upgrading my studio right now. I’ve been using the same version of my recording software for four years and I just decided to go with the new version. I think it’s good to refresh and use new technology as it comes along. You know, a new person who started out writing music with this technology isn’t going to do things the same way that I would. They may not work things correctly or I might not work things correctly. It’s interesting, for example, when you get computer simulations of guitar pedals—which I use, even though I have all the pedals—I wonder about someone who never lived through the 1970s and 1980s and never heard those original sounds. I wonder how they would approach that, because it would be very different to my approach. I come to that software with a sound in my head, and I end up using, say, a delay effect the way I would use a delay pedal. But if you’ve got a kid who’s never even seen a delay pedal, they could use that effect in a more interesting way, just by chance.

Conversely, I work that way with a lot of new things because I have this experience of how a lot of old things sound. On a track, I can take the same sort of tools used to make hip-hop or electronic music and I’ll incorporate it into my own work by moving things away from the presets and slowing the tempo down. Over time, you start collect more and more sounds and styles that you can use. Ultimately, though, it’s a double-edged sword, because everything I do ends up sounding like me in the end. Not much I can do about that.

Via PopMatters