With my STEP fellowship, I ordered musical equipment and software, as well as computer parts to build a home studio. I then recorded my musician friends and produced songs for them, which were released on social media. I plan on recording more with everyone involved and possibly more of my friends.
Prior to this project, I understood songwriting and producing to be something that came naturally. I found that while this is true, it’s much more of a science than I had thought. I assumed basic rhythm and were simple, but it turns out I knew little about chord structuring and song charting. With the help of my friends and multiple books on music making, I was able to make this a much less exhaustive task. Now that the process is easier for me, I have found I enjoy just sitting and thinking up ideas even more.
My relationships played a major role in how much I learned with this equipment. I was able to pick up a great deal about mixing and editing levels of instruments from my friend Ben. He was heavily involved in Marching Band and has home produced for a few years now. Thanks to his help, I was able to get hands-on knowledge with mixing, songwriting, and production in general. My friend Justin helped me grasp the concepts of song structure. Alongside this, he was a very creative mind to collaborate with. This helped open my eyes to new bits of music theory and structure, as he was involved with the Dayton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra for many years.
My project allowed me to gain a new perspective on music writing, as this was the first opportunity I had to learn and bounce ideas off of other people in a free form manner. When I first sat down with my friend Tonnie to make a song, I began to notice many things about what worked best between artist and producer. The process involved a series of having an idea, listening to an idea, and working to encorporate the idea into the song. Sometimes he would like my ideas, other times he would improve upon them and mould them into his style. This proved to be my favorite aspect of songwriting. No one idea is wrong or right, but as a group you can present a very fine piece of work by inputting everyone’s ideas and allowing the artist to express themself.
Through this project, I also gained new musical connections to help broaden my personal network. As I posted some of our progress to social media, I gained followers and friends who wanted to collaborate and learn more. One of my favorite moments over the summer was when Justin asked if he could bring his friend over. He had never gotten involved in music throughout school, but was interested in learning more about it. We had him sit in for a while and allowed him to try out some instruments himself. I found this moment to be great because someone who had a desire to learn was given the tools to educate themselves.
The main roadblock I hit was ordering the parts for production. As soon as I received my STEP grant, I attempted to order near everything in two days. While I had the funds to do this, my credit union flagged many of the items for fraud after spending a certain amount in one day. This event, while tedious, allowed me to keep good track of when the packages would arrive and get a good idea of how to fit the pieces together without rushing.
This experience was amazing, as it allowed me to finally be in control of what I can create musically. I can guarantee that I will be creating more with the equipment I purchased, and I plan on working more with all of the artists involved over the summer. Music has always been a stress relief to me, as it allows me to express myself the only way I know how. This has enabled me to be more productive at work and when studying. I plan on producing music in my spare time for as long as I can. Check out some of my finished productions at my soundbutt page