To riff or not to riff

To riff or not to riff

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I'm still struggling to figure out exactly what sort of music I want to make.

The problem seems to be one part my eclectic taste in music – I listen to, and enjoy, everything from jazz to glitch to pop to hip-hop to heavy metal – and one part the muscle memory from learning to play guitar in the late 80s. My brain wants to experiment with genres, making music that sounds like Fever Ray meets The Postal Service by way of Swans; but whenever I pick up a guitar to start writing, my hands just automatically start to play distorted, chugging 4/4 metal riffs.

Other musicians say you should just write what comes naturally to you, that that's how to discover your sound, but when the first thing someone says about your demo track is, "it sounds a bit 90s" you can't help but think that perhaps you're wearing your influences on your sleeve just a little too obviously.

Perhaps if I bought a MIDI controller and started using that as my first port-of-call instead of the electric guitar when writing, it would lead me in a different direction? Or maybe I just need to embrace the distorted riff? Bands like Muse and Royal Blood are still wringing new life from it, I suppose.

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