As a child, I hated everything to do with organized music except listening to it. I played bass in my school band for six years between the elementary and high school, but never really seemed to enjoy it. I detested the piano lessons my mum sent me to every week while I was a kid as well. For a long time, I had this ambivalent relationship with music where I could go word for word with any song in my iTunes library and SoundCloud likes. On the other hand, I wanted to be as far away as possible from music. So how did I go from hating theory, performing, and writing to spending hours behind my computer making songs, soundtracks and beats?
It all started when I lived in the UK with my parents. The school I went to had recently been torn down and completely revitalized by the time I had got there. As a result, they had facilities I could have only dreamed of at my small Toronto Catholic school. But ignoring the nice new classrooms, theatre and art studios, there was one room I spent most of my time in; the music studio. It was at the end of the hall in the music department, equipped with one desktop, two large studio monitors, a keyboard and a microphone. When I first found out about the room, I didn’t really know what to do. I was really bad at the school provided, Logic Pro and I already hated having to learn music in class. However, one day my friend Eric asked me if we wanted to spend our lunch break in the studio. I said yes asEric was the only person I knew that well at school. This turned out to be a great decision.
Although I can’t say we made Billboard’s next biggest hit, I started to have fun with the process. Eric was incredibly musically savvy. He played guitar, piano and drummed in our school’s drumline so even if I really didn’t know what was going on, he did. His passion and drive for music drew me into creating my own tunes.
As twelve-year-old boys at the time, there was one genre that had a stranglehold on us; dubstep. We spent our time after school at the library playing cracked versions of Halo: Combat Evolved and watching Modern Warfare 3 montages, all while Skrillex, Zomboy and Zeds Dead played through our headphones. This inspired us to make music we listened to in our day-to-day lives. Our only single was a song called “Welcome to Canada ”; a poorly mixed but not too terrible dubstep track that we made in the school studio over a few weeks. After that, we didn’t really finish anything else.
After I left the UK, I begged my parents for a Logic Pro subscription by dropping $200 for a license and much more for equipment. It was a cheap way to start a hobby, especially considering I had detested my music education before that. Over the next year my interest kind of fizzled out as I went back into doing normal school band for a few years, where I was stuck behind the stand-up bass. As I started hating my high school band class again, , music began to sneak its way into my life for a second time. Hip-hop onYouTube really drew me back into the side of making music. Aries and other YouTube producers who laid out their entire production process in their videos inspired me to invest in new equipment. On the other hand, I was still a broke high school student and stuck myself on the sidelines trying to absorb as much as possible.
When it came time to put my skills into practice, I bought Logic Pro in my dorm room on my little Mac laptop and dedicated my time to making beats. I watched hours of music tutorials and even enrolled myself in MUSC 104 (Intro to Music Theory) to improve my work. Over time, I began uploading my beats on SoundCloud. Though they weren’t that good, I can still say I was proud that I pushed myself into the work I made for the world.
For the next two years I just steadily plugged away at the beats but there was something I was missing. Watching Aries and other YouTube producers transition towards rapping and singing on their own beats made me start to think about maybe trying it out. So, when the pandemic hit and the CERB cheques came around, I used the money to buy a studio setup for my room here at Queen’s and started with the cringiest music you’ve ever heard. The first song I made in the studio was called “shits wack”.It wasn’t the best thing I ever made but seeing my friends’ reaction to it was enough to keep going with it. So, what am I up to now? Well, I just got my first major beat placement, I’ve produced for local artists, and I’ve dropped more and more songs. Pushing myself into music has opened up a whole new lane to express myself, whether I’m down, angry or even just goofing around to make my friends laugh.