Stuck in a rut, need recommendations to break out of it

Lately I’ve been feeling very frustrated with my creations and I’m finding it more and more difficult to finish anything, because it always feels like a repetition (or a close variation, at best) of what I’ve already done.

A bit of context first: I’ve been making music on my own for about 5 years now, after playing in bands for over 20 years. I come from a rock background and I only started to get into electronic music back in 2017, so at first everything was completely new to me in this genre and it was really easy to come up with fresh and exciting ideas. I’ve tried all sorts of different gear during this period and a handful of them were really ground breaking in the sense that they opened up whole new worlds: the Organelle (my 1st “electronic” instrument), the Digitone and more recently the Deluge.

The problem that I’ve been feeling lately is that no matter what gear I’m using, the input is always coming from me so I always end up using the same ideas and techniques! That’s why I’m looking for something that could help me to come up with different unexpected results, specifically generative sequencers and such.

The Organelle had some pretty cool generative patches, but the problem was you could only use one at time, so it wasn’t ideal for building full tracks with it. The Digitone and Deluge are both great standalone grooveboxes, but mostly that act as blank canvas for whatever you want to put there, not so much for coming up with different ideas.

So, are there any “happy accident” machines that you would recommend? or, do you think that based on what I’ve just described my problem cannot be resolved with more gear and I need to try a different approach?

Important note: hardware recommendations only, I work with computers all day so the last thing I want is to be in front of one in my free time!


Here’s some ‘hardware’ in the form of a book (available online too):

In addition, try a new genre, make some unconventional beats from unlikely sources like field recordings, make a track with a single sample, or only one piece of hardware for all the elements, anything to switch things up. You can then take what you’ve learned back to your ideal genre with fresh ideas.


I would rather advise to find someone to play with…


Not a single week goes by that I don’t think about that, but my life right now doesn’t allow for anything fixed and/or regular, so it’s hard to find someone to collaborate with in the same situation. :pensive:

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Could you collaborate online, throwing stems and recordings back at each other, remixing at will, etc?


I go through this too.
I’ll have a wave of high creativity and focus, followed by a lulls.
I try not to fight it, just sit back and let it pass.
However, sometimes I make tracks just for the sake of working whether I am inspired or not, keep my muscle memory fresh.

Few things come to mind, there’s nothing wrong with repeating yourself.
That’s your “style” embrace it.
You might unlock the best version of an idea that way.
I’ll think of bands like Modern English.
They did like 4 versions of “Melt with you” all good songs.

Lately I decided to mix things up gear wise, and establish new limitations.
A while back I made an album using only the dark trinity, and had it all configured in a specific way. I stuck to those limitations.

Now I am on a different configuration.
Using the AK for drums, only 1 bar drum patterns using conditional trigs.
RYTM for bass and melodies.
OT for some live sampling of my SlimPhatty as my main playable synth.
Also been using multiple outs of gear into a mixer.
This is my new configuration and limitation I am sticking too.
Takes a while to get into something new, but once it takes hold, I start to get the fever for making tracks in this way.
Also sticking to a genera, or trying a new one.

Again I suggest not trying to fight it or force anything.
Ride the part of the wave your on.
Maybe that means not touching any gear for a while and letting something inside build up.
Let inspiration come to you in different mediums, do all the other things you’ve thought you needed to tackle.
On the flip side of that, sometimes forcing yourself to try and work helps push through some of the awkward parts. You can kind of find your way to something new by passing over your current situation.

Collaboration is also a good one.


What’s your current rig setup? Where are you located?

I’m pretty tortured so take this with a grain of salt, but actually learning to play other peoples’ music is the only thing that gets me out of this rut. This summer I played bass drum in a big samba group, did a parade, that absolutely made me feel new ideas when I sat down in front of my machines.


Honestly I don’t think generative sequencers are the cure for a lack of inspiration. I think you need to go out and find it for yourself!

I’ve been through this a few times myself, so here are some things that have worked for me, in no particular order:

  • Listen to new and different music, in genres that are new to you
  • Take a break from writing music for a bit. Maybe weeks, or even months. You’ll find that ideas will suddenly start to come to you
  • Talk to people about music. You don’t have to even be making music with them - just ask people about what they’re into, get them to play you stuff you haven’t heard before, and try to hear what they hear
  • Learn from younger generations. They’re good at tapping into new ideas, or old ideas that they have no context for. I’ve recently been volunteering at a youth centre, helping 15-18 year old kids from the inner city record their grime/drill vocals, and it’s exposed me to a whole new world of stuff that’s been influencing my own music quite a bit.

Edit: Just want to reinforce the point that creative problems are rarely solved by buying more shit. If anything, creativity tends to benefit from having less shit. Gear is useless if you have nothing to put into it.


Mission Briefs could be another way to experiment and push your limits.


Sure, I just need to find someone willing to do so! :smiley:

That’s basically what I’ve been doing since the pandemic started: I made a lot of tracks using just the Digitone, then a few with just the Digitakt, and this year a few just with the Deluge. Limitations certainly do seem to spark creativity, but even so the result that came out of this 3 different approaches was not that different… but like you said maybe that’s not a bad thing and I shouldn’t get so frustrated by it, especially considering I have no commercial intentions.

Currently it’s a Digitone + Deluge + Dreadbox Typhon + JU06A + a few Fx pedals. I rarely use them all at once though, I tend to use just a couple of them at a time. I’m in Lisbon, Portugal.


You’re in the right place! :slight_smile:


Yeah, rationally I know you’re right… I’m just looking for a quick fix to a complicated issue, but those rarely exist in life. :man_shrugging:


This weekend I searched the forum for “imposter syndrome” and read through 100+ posts from all you generously honest people talking about your relationship with the creative process. I know that’s not what you’re talking about here necessarily, but what I got out of that was, among a lot of good advice/reminders, Mark Fell’s book Structure and Synthesis. If you like academic-leaning texts (and liking his music probably helps too), I’d also recommend checking it out.

So, not a gear recommendation, but what I’ve read so far has been a good read.

Maybe the “happy accident machine” that will lead you to is Max. :slight_smile:


Some useful advice I saw recently (via Jack Conte, although I think he was referencing someone else…): when you’re feeling creatively stuck, have a list of basic, workflow-related/logistical things you need or want to take care of in your studio that you can focus on. For me, this helps me feel like I’m in my studio and I’m working, even if it isn’t exactly “creative” – it’s still work and it’s still accomplishing something related to my musical pursuits.

For example: over the weekend I spent some time converting a bunch of one-shot drum samples on my computer for use with my ALM Squid module. Routine and not very interesting, but I’ve been meaning to do it for a while, I know it makes my rig more versatile, and when I finally get some creative energy back, it will be ready to go. I have a bunch of hardware-related studio projects, too, that are equally boring in many ways, but necessary for things to function how I want them to.

As always, your mileage may/certainly will vary, but this is proving helpful for me.


Recently one of the things that’s actually made me feel like spending more time in my studio is getting rid of stuff I’m not using, that’s never really worked well in my rig, and that I’m never going to actually learn to use properly. This has been an acute problem for my Eurorack stuff in particular – it’s embarrassing to think about how many modules I’ve churned through over the last bunch of years thinking they might solve a problem or spark some creativity, only to have them sit there. I guess you never know what’s going to land and what isn’t until you get your hands on it, but for me, streamlining things in my room and cutting loose of stuff that just made me feel bad every time I saw it has been a huge help. In my case, cutting loose of almost 50% of my modules has made my Euro set-up a hell of a lot more fun.


This is great, also, I would do some follow along videos on YouTube. STRANJAH’s channel is great as he breaks down production techniques.

He works out of a DAW, but the concepts in sound design apply to hardware as well.

A sine wave is a sine wave and an oscillator is an oscillator.

Also, go back to any manuals that have the quick start guides, and go through the steps and patch ideas and make music around those.

Plus someone else mentioned, use a reference track. Pick a song that you’re feeling now and try to recreate it on your gear. It will rarely sound like the original and you can learn off someone else’s arraignment.

Don’t buy more shit. The problem with the deluge is that it’s TOO versatile and you are your only limitation.

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I’ve been doing that for the last couple of years, my setup is about half of what it used to be. But while it’s certainly easier for me mentally to focus on less gear, I wouldn’t say it has improved my creativity all that much… I’ve done a few things with just one box that I’m pretty proud of, but the same is true for things I did when I had a much larger setup.

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I’ve been through exactly the same thing, OP.

It’s expensive for what it is, but I’ve ordered a Polyend Play. I’ve decided I just want something fun.

Making music is a hobby to me, I have limited time, and at the moment I’m just left demoralised and deflated with it all.

Good luck!

Bro, do polyrhythms on the deluge to create pseudo generative beats.

Just make sure you record everything and when you hear something you like, try to recreate it from scratch. It will be different every time.

It’s a love letter to music in general and will inspire you to create electronic music.

Also, you just need to jam more, and not try to make songs for a bit. That’s how the happy accidents will happen.

I’m only a year in and I never lack ideas, just the ability to execute.

Lastly, and this is the most important. Listen to this podcast.