If you’re like me, you probably hate trying to do any serious recording on anything smaller than a laptop. A friend once described iPads and iPhones in a nutshell as “output, not input devices” and that’s true for many of us used to the heavy duty studio rigs that we own. But a new generation of producer/songwriter has been brought up around their smartphones, and to them, the size isn’t much of a limitation. Take Steve Lacy, for instance, who does everything on his iPhone and recently had a Grammy nomination and a hit with Kendrick Lamar to show for it.
Lacy records his guitar and bass directly into GarageBand via an iRig, and even does vocals using the iPhone’s mic. He’s gotten so used to the sound that when he finally did get a laptop with Ableton, it felt “too clean” and he resorted back to his iPhone.
That’s happened to many of us in the past, where we grow up on certain instruments, synths, mics and DAWs and become so accustomed to the sound that when we finally graduate to better gear we’re kind of left in the dark for a while trying to recapture the character that we’re so familiar with.
Still, Lacy received a Grammy nomination thanks to his band’s album Ego Death , and then the hit “Wasn’t There” on Lamar’s Pride album, and it’s all come from tracks recorded on his smartphone.
Personally I shy away from doing much on my iPhone 6+, even though it is larger than most phones. I need a larger screen and a real keyboard and mouse, plus I’ve been using the Mac since it came out, so old habits die hard. But I can see how people who grew up with a smartphone almost as another appendage would feel extremely comfortable using it as a creation tool.
The whole point of this post is that music production on a smartphone can be done, and can result in a hit, if you’re willing to work that way.