You, like most bands or artists, are probably chasing a sound. You heard something somewhere and it's taken over your brain and set you on a path of endless creativity hurtling deeper down the rabbit hole to achieving That Sound. You might be in the recording studio, or deep into the production phase when you get hit by The Sound and suddenly it's all wrong. Scrap it. Back to the drawing board.
You may need to double back further than you think. Before production, pre production, recording, rehearsing, & prepping for the studio (all things you should be doing). Your sound is defined at the very beginning - Songwriting.
Songwriting is where we lay out the key elements that later become the sound. These elements are the chord progressions, tempo, song structure, lyrics, and melodies. All of these things play a major role in the sound of the finished product, and often they happen instinctually, at the very beginning, and at the same time. Ever picked up your guitar or sat down at the piano, played a few chords that trigger a vocal melody, fit in some lyrics that become the hook, and before you know it you've written the entire song? We tend to call these "songs that write themselves". What you've actually just done is you've subconsciously committed to all of the elements. Your song has a vibe. It has a chord progression. It has a tempo and a pace. It has vocal melodies and lyrics. And if it is truly one of those songs that write themselves than it's probably something your very proud of and excited about.
Take a step back and listen to your song without playing it. Performing keeps us caught up in the moment, so to objectively hear the song - make some kind of recording. A voice memo on a phone or recorder is all you need.
Tempo is at the top of the list of influencers of The Sound. It, along with the chord progression, creates the feel and vibe almost entirely. How are you moving when you listen to your music in its most simplest form? Are you swaying smoothly, tapping your feet, or banging your head? To be clear, I'm not at all referring to genre. I've seen kids head bang just as hard at an EDM concert as they do at a rock show. In fact, you'd be amazed at the similarities between say, modern metal and pop music all the way from the songwriting, structure, and chords, to the production techniques. Determining how you move to your song is important for figuring out its potential production styles. Your audience will most likely move to it the same way you do, and if you can picture them dancing, swaying, or jumping, you can start to imagine what they might be dancing, swaying, or jumping to.
The purpose of this is to come up with realistic expectations of production styles that your song can live in. Combining styles has given way to many new genres through the years, but it only works when it's done tastefully. I once worked with a singer songwriter who wanted to experiment with the production on a song of his. It was a slow acoustic song with smooth legato melodies. We stripped the guitar, replaced it with a warm electric piano with some synth pad layers, added really modern hip hop drums, and it sounded incredible! We found inspiration in other genres that we could move to the same way.
Music Production should always be treated as a way to enhance the song and take it to the next level of completion. Too often it's used as a crutch or a disguise taking a song fit for one style and masking it to live in another. The result is a song that doesn't quite fit in either and feels disconnected from itself. If you can figure out how you want to make people move and feel when they hear your music, you can successfully narrow down the vibe and production styles that will bring it to life.