Ask any musician and they’ll tell you that having an expensive studio and lots of equipment is the key to making a great record. With so much emphasis being given on production values these days, people often think that without the gear and the right equipment, they don’t have a shot at making great music. Armed with an iPhone and a gadget called the iRig, Kendrick Lamar’s producer, Steve Lacy, the guy who made the beat for the hit single “Pride” (Damn. 2017) chooses to disagree.
When his request for a MacBook for 4 Christmas’ straight was denied, he gave up and started exploring beat making apps on his old iPod Touch. With apps such as GarageBand, iMPC and BeatMaker 2, he realized the process of making music on the phone was actually rather handy. Without having to worry too much on the sounds, he could capture the essence of the idea and get into the groove of things much sooner. Being a guitarist, he wanted to ideate by recording guitar lines and soon got himself an iRig, a small, cheap device that lets you record audio into your Apple Device using the lightning connector found on iPhones. In a recent interview, Lacy revealed that he loved to make music wherever he went, like in the car while driving (not recommended and very dangerous!). Apart from the flexibility of writing anywhere, he also does this to prove a point to an industry increasingly obsessed with gear and production. He wishes people start focussing on the music and the performance more than the gear used to record it (I’ve been guilty of this in the past too, but have over time realized that a great song is a great song, no matter how its produced).
The most important thing, in my humble opinion, is the music. Does it move you? Does it move others? Sure, in an ideal world, we would all love to have unlimited access to Abbey Road Studios and spend months working on our albums there. But in the real world, isn’t it amazing to have the ability to capture an idea there and then? Capture the essence of the song, the very thing that makes it special at the moment and freezes it so the song stays special?
That being said, once the initial song has been put down on a portable device, it is best to finish it off using a computer with proper gear. Music production skills are a must-have in today’s day and age where musicians have to be their own recording engineers, producers, and marketers. Without adequate production know how it’s almost impossible to survive in the business of making music.
Steve Lacy’s inspiring story has a lot of takeaways, but the most relevant for me were ;
• BE READY: Inspiration can strike anywhere; in the shower, while walking, driving or doing any of the other mundane activities we tend to do every day. We need to be ready to capture it and for that, you should familiarise yourself with music making apps such as GarageBand to make sure a great idea is not forgotten (it’s very irritating, trust me)
• BE OPEN: Keep yourself open to new ideas and don’t disregard something just because its simple..oftentimes the simplest way is the most effective.
• KEEP WRITING : Write every day, even if there is no inspiration so that when it does strike, you know where to take it.
• STAY RELEVANT: With technology advancing so quickly, learn about all that is new and don’t ignore where the world is going. It’s easy to get comfortable with what you know, but if you don’t know what’s current, you’re going to be a dinosaur in an industry that changes every day.
Learn how to produce your own music on anything from an app to industry standard software by signing up for the Electronic Music Production capsule course where we provide experiential learning taught by industry leaders!
Did you download GarageBand or any of these music-making apps and start tinkering about? I hope this inspired you to write music and if it did, I’d love to hear your thoughts and your music. Mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I shall write back to you as soon as possible!