In honor of all things lo-fi, here’s a list of five albums and songs recorded entirely on an iPad/iPhone.
Because recording studios are (sometimes) overrated.
“Fire” by Jake Bugg
Fire is the last track on the British musician’s self-titled album released in 2012. Jake recorded the demo for this tune on his iPhone and after experimenting with several studio versions, his label decided they could not match his rough original recording, so decided to go with his demo. The only additions were some old gramophone crackles that they inserted during mastering. There is nothing like the beauty of rough drafts!
Start the Show by One Like Son
This Alabama-based rock band recorded an entire album using solely iPhone track apps. The four men involved in the recording of Start the Show were Stephen Poff (on vocals, guitar, bass and organ), Bill Rester, Perry Brown and Bryan Segraves. The recording of the tracks started in January 2010, the 11-track album was finished right before the new year on Dec. 31, 2011.
If you are a musician thinking of starting a similar project there are some things you should be aware of: Poff stated that recording tracks using only applications was much more difficult than he anticipated; while it’s cheaper not to use a real studio, it’s more difficult to move the tracks and lay them together using your iPhone. One Like Son primarily used iPhone applications such as FourTrack, MultiTrack DAW, AmpKit and ThumbJam. In addition, adaptors allowed the band members to record their music by plugging in real instruments and microphones to an iPhone.
For example, the IK Multimedia iRig 2 guitar interface adaptor connects your guitar directly to your iPhone. The latest model has an integrated headphone jack with a dedicated preamp so you can monitor your shredding to ensure your guitar sounds the way it should—not like you’re recording on a phone.
The Fall by Gorillaz
Perhaps more experimental and a bit less accessible to the average listener than some of the Gorillaz’ previous albums, The Fall is still a strong effort from start to finish. Although creator Damon Albarn has described himself as a ‘technophobe and luddite’, The Fall utilizes a total of 22 iPad apps, from the popular Dub Siren Pro to lesser known programs. Gorillaz were the first group to compose an entire album using an iPad – probably fitting, considering they’re virtual themselves.
“Love is the thing” by The 88
This popular indie hit was recorded on the iPhone using the app FourTrack. It took three hours of recording and two hours of mixing to create the track. Not everything went smoothly; when it came time to replace the scratch vocal, the new lead sounded buried in the mix, so the band recorded it again using an Alesis ProTrack which allows users to connect an iPod or an iPhone to both a microphone and headphones, and adjust the input level. The drum kit used was a toy drum played with brushes and covered with a sheet in order to get a good volume level that didn’t overload the phone.
All in all, thanks to the bounce feature on FourTrack, the band laid down 14 tracks, including a crash cymbal that was added at the lead singer’s house at the end.
SongFarmer by Michael Johnathon
American folk singer Michael Johnathon recorded the whole SongFarmer album using his iPhone 6 plus in his log cabin in Kentucky. It’s an acoustic album recorded with the new Martin 0000-28s guitar and long neck Deering Vega Banjo. Johnathon wanted to recreate the feeling of an early folk recording using 21st century technology.
Thinking About Going Lo-Fi?
Over to you. What do you think? As an artist, would you record an entire album using an iPad or iPhone? After all, isn’t it what most folks use to listen to music these days?
The music described above was recorded in the same format the public is being trained to listen on: a cell phone.
If that’s what you’re going to listen to it on, then that’s what I’ll record it on.
Do you agree?
Do you know other albums/songs recorded on iPhones or iPads? How many more we don’t know about have been recorded with these devices? Are you a technophile or a luddite? Do you think this is the future of the recording industry and the death of recording studios? Or perhaps you are an audiophile, a vinyl collector? Does this iPhone recording trend sadden you? Are you willing to spend money to buy an album recorded on a cheaper budget than renting a recording studio with equipment? Or maybe not?
Either way, give this playlist a listen to check out the value of lo-fi recordings for yourself.
Musicians: if you’re interested in giving lo-fi a try, here’s a helpful list of apps to record music on Apple devices.
- Dub Siren Pro
- MultiTrack DAW
- IK Multimedia iRig 2 guitar interface adaptor
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