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Photo: Chugg Entertainment
Does equipment matter when producing bangers– or is it about working with what you have?
Steve Lacy is a singer, songwriter, record producer, and living proof that you don’t need the most advanced or high-tech studio equipment to create music that listeners will love. With something as simple as the GarageBand app on his iPhone, the “Dark Red” artist was able to gain recognition in the music industry. During his TEDxTeen talk, Lacy expressed that he always wanted a MacBook Pro since that’s what his friends used to create art. He never got that MacBook, however. Instead, Lacy created beats with an iPod. “With this [iPod], I’ve got these apps and I’m just exploring this world of sound with this little device in my pocket - and I realized that I didn’t necessarily need what I thought I did,” he said.
Lacy was able to gain traction as the guitarist of The Internet, an Alternative R&B band from LA. One of their songs titled “Curse”, created via GarageBand, was the demo that would go on to lead the then high-schooler into a Grammy nomination. From there, he continued creating music not necessarily having any idea what it was for– “it just felt right”, he said during the talk. He wasn’t even aware that he was producing an album, he was just laying down ideas that he had heard in his head with his friends. This first body of work opened the doors of opportunity for him to work with more people like J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar– all just from his iPhone.
According to a Wired feature on YouTube, Lacy records all of his music on his phone. He’s used lots of apps before but GarageBand is his favourite, according to the Wired video. He would start off with a simple drum loop, and then he plugs his guitar into his iPhone using an iRig cable. After, he adds his vocals– Lacy prefers singing straight into the iPhone’s mic, holding a pop filter and getting right up close. As he works, he just stacks the tracks one-by-one in GarageBand.
“I like to, you know, make wherever I am”, he said in the Wired video.
Besides Lacy, other legendary musicians such as Rihanna, and electronic music duo, Justice, have released masterpieces using GarageBand. Rihanna’s 2007 hit “Umbrella” uses a drum loop that you can find if you search for the “Vintage Funk Kit 03” sample on the app. Justice’s 2007 album “Cross” was produced using the Apple app.
GarageBand and other alternative apps like Logic Pro (Apple), Groovepad (Android), Audacity (Windows, Linux, Mac), Adobe Audition (Windows & Mac), etc. are powerful, yet accessible tools available to new-age artists to create music on. Furthermore, with the emergence of the Information Age, a simple internet search can help young artists get their foot in the door of the music industry.