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How this top producer turns his laptop into a studio

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(energetic hip hop music) (man beatboxing) – He took a voice note of
him just doing a drum pattern and now the drum pattern is here. – [Man] There it is. (loud thudding kick drums) – Listen to that. Now we’ve already got
the beginning of a song. – I think having a mobile set
up can have its limitations, but at the end of the day, I can make something that
sounds just as good as something that I would do in this studio. – When you think of
how a hit song is made, you might imagine it all happening in a big professional studio, and you wouldn’t be wrong. Most music has been recorded this way, but in the past, you
usually had to be signed to a major label in order
to get access to studios. And these studios required a lot of space, people, and equipment. Now technology has advanced to the point, where many of the tools
needed to build a song can fit in the palm of
your hand, literally. (metallic hip hop beat) Oak Felder is a songwriter
and pop music producer who has worked with
artists like Nicki Minaj, Demi Lovato, Alicia Keys, Usher, and Jennifer Lopez to name a few. Oak may work with some of
music’s biggest players, but what he uses to make their songs can mostly be done on a phone and laptop, which allows him to work
from anywhere in the world. Day to day, how much are you actually doing on the go, versus in a traditional space like this? – My main computer is a laptop, so technically I’m mobile everywhere. Technically. And in a lot of ways, the
setup that I have here is just a beefed up version of what I would normally have on the road. – So it’s the same thing, just a little upgraded.
– Scaled up, yeah. – So how has mobile production
personally empowered you or changed the way that you work? – It’s helped me a lot. Inspiration sort of strikes everywhere. Not only when you’re in the studio, right? I get a lot of ideas when I’m asleep, believe it or not. I’ll get up and I’ll sit down at like this mobile rig that I have. Or there are times when I’m out and about and I’ll think of a crazy lyric or I’ll think of a really cool melody, and I’ll use my voice notes on my phone or I’ll use the music
notes app on my iPhone to just put the idea down. – Think about how many
hit songs do not exist because someone did not
have access to technology or a way to put it down in the moment. – Yeah, for sure. I can sit in the car and
do a track on my computer. – [Dani] To see how Oak
produces outside the studio, we headed to a home recording session with singer and songwriter Zhavia. ♪ Gotta leave my candlelight burning ♪ – [Dani] They’ve been
working on a project together and Oak demos how he can
build a beat using software called Battery as soon
as we get in the car. – So I have this kit,
actually, that I put together, and I do this a lot. Like when I know I’m going
to work with an artist, I’ll just source different vibes or I’ll just create them. Alright, pull up Logic. Hi-Light’s plugged in. Hard drive’s plugged in. So let’s start with a kick. (phone playing beatbox drums) (loud thudding kick drums) That’s my kick. (loud thudding kick drums) – [Dani] This is like
super fascinating to me because I’ve never really seen anyone use the touch bar in this kind of way. – [Oak] Oh really? It’s so convenient. (loud thudding kick drums) Plugging in dongles. (thumping hip hop beat) So when we were in the car earlier, that’s where it started. And I when I walked in
here and played it for ’em that’s what they heard. As they were writing the song, I started adding more elements to it. – [Dani] Those elements
include sounds and effects from plugins and samples. In the past these elements would need to be created with hardware, but now software can be downloaded or installed on a laptop. These are used to create
the foundation of the track. Next, the vocals are added. ♪ Ways ♪ ♪ Son are ways to get it everyday ♪ ♪ Only catch me resting in my grave ♪ ♪ I’m too busy counting numbers ♪ ♪ If I’m losing watch me do it better ♪ ♪ Come on with another ♪ ♪ On your way ♪ – Okay, so she did record that lead vocal, but after she recorded that, we did all the background arrangements, and that’s where a lot of
the track count comes from. – All of these layers are then stacked into a project in Logic, adjusted, and then mixed for the final product. How many layers of
audio are there in here? – In this track? Well all together, the
track plus the vocals, there’s 177 tracks. – What? – Total yeah. So that’s every background, every stack, every crowd vocal, every hi-hat, every tom, every kick, every snare, every percussion, every bassline, every chord, everything! But the truth is, is that
all of these layers sort of group together to make singular things. So when you listen to it with her vocal. ♪ Got me made ♪ ♪ They don’t know I got a hundred ways ♪ ♪ Hundred ways to get it ♪ – Oh yeah yeah yeah!
♪ Everyday ♪ – I mean it sounds like there’s a party happening behind you. – [Dani] What’s significant is not just that a laptop is mobile, but software is powerful enough to essentially be a studio. – [Oak] Recently I did
a record for Demi Lovato called Sorry Not Sorry
that has a gospel choir, but that gospel choir is yours truly. ♪ Baby I’m sorry ♪ ♪ I’m not sorry ♪ – And it literally is me and Sean Douglas, the other writer on the record and Demi herself, stacking our vocals like 40 times. And I did it on my laptop, and I did it no problem because the processing power’s there. – [Dani] This processing
power has given rise to a new generation of bedroom producers who don’t need a studio to make music. – I think the technology has
become the great equalizer. I think we’re all on
an even playing field, and now it’s about skill. Now it’s about who’s just good. – That’s actually true because we can have an even
playing field, but that means that everyone has to be
better at what they do. – [Oak] That’s exactly right. If the next bedroom producer comes up, and does a better record than I do, they’re gonna overtake me. – So people’s creativity will be unlocked, but right. It’s still, it’s the level of creativity that you have up here. – That’s exactly right. I think now we can be judged based on our actual
capability versus our access. Now that the technology is learning how to get out of the way. – What do you mean by that? – I think that should be
the goal of technology. Get out of my way. (laughing) Seriously, that should be the goal! And give everybody the access to that. Somebody who doesn’t know how
to use Pro Tools very well has a damn good idea in their head, and I think it’s better for the art. (buzzing electronic music) – This video is sponsored by aLoft, different by design.

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