Steve Aoki – Warp 1.9.
The match that lit Cowp’s music producing fire.
What started as a natural-born talent for guitar quickly became a passion for arranging sounds, beats and lyrics into sequential masterpieces. “DJing is not the correct term,” he claims, “That’s live performing. Producing is more challenging. It has a steeper learning curve and is all-around more time-consuming.”
Cowp (also known as Kyle Cowper, my former roommate and current impressive music producer) creates dance and EDM vibes from scratch, using a Digital Audio Workstation on his laptop.
“Producing is more challenging. It has a steeper learning curve and is all-around more time-consuming.”
As we sat in his apartment, I watched as he explained certain aspects of his Workstation. He tested oscillators, filters and other sound manipulators to give me some background on what goes into creating a track.
“Music production is a mix of ‘big picture’ ideas and detail-orientation. You need to focus on sounds that “sound” good & good together, all while having a broader, more cohesive sound in mind,” Cowp explains.
Producing is an art. Even a science. It’s about finding perfect frequencies and disrupting the spacing of sounds to create clear, entertaining music.
Sometimes, it’s about mixing and matching sounds until you find the best fit. Lazy? Maybe, but sometimes Cowp’s best tracks are created when his mind wanders and the notes just flow.
“I’ve learned so much music theory over the years, growing up with classical, jazz and so many genres through guitar that I have just developed an ear for chord progressions,” Cowp says of his own musical intuition.
Sure, the world is saturated with people who consider themselves music producers, playing around with beats and sharing creations on Soundcloud. But, I see Cowp’s music knowledge as an advantage. Mastering – and I can use that term because I have seen and heard him play – one instrument led him to understanding just about the spectrum of instruments and how they can all blend.
And he doesn’t just mix beats, he makes them. Cowp creates his own guitar, keyboard, and even flute clips to add to his tracks.
He also collaborates with other artists whom he knows personally or has met through Soundcloud. Him and a friend, hip-hop artist Jack Graham, are working on an EP together while living on opposite sides of the country.
From my personal listening experience, Field Trip – EP, sounds “casual,” if you were able to classify music as casual. The rap isn’t heavy, and the beats are light, ultimately creating a weird, yet funky, combination.
Here’s a sneak peek at a track, titled, Neon Lights:
Cowp continues to grow his fanbase on Soundcloud. It’s the best alternative to performing at shows, which is something he isn’t interested in pursuing.
“I want to reach ears with my music, but not in a live setting.”
Music mixing is his hobby, but he’s grown his credibility along the way. At one point, he posted a Bob Marley remix he created and had almost 400,000 listens. His most devoted fan listens to his tracks on an average of 470 times a year and doesn’t even live in the U.S. I’d say that mixing has become more than any old hobby.
Cowp has even created a club, the Music Business Club, which revolves around music promotions and artist management. In its beginning stages, the group already has more than 15 members and represents three artists: two local to the Boston area and one located in L.A.
The goals of the club are not set in stone, mainly because their objectives are to meet the goals of the artists they represent.
“It’s not what we see as success,” Cowp says, “but how [our] artists see their own success, and how we can help to accomplish that.”
Cowp continued to shuffle through some of his old tracks for me, humbly bobbing his head, knowing what beats came next, while I sat next to him, jaw agape and staring at the computer screen in awe. The attention-to-detail and individual editing required to create a fully-produced song takes more time than what people take notice of when listening to today’s Top 40 Hits.
I found a new appreciation for music production, and who knew it’d be from someone I once shared a bathroom with.