iOS musician Michael Wadlow started making music when you had to spend serious money to get things similar to apps we download from the App Store in 30 seconds. The iPad offered him a compact, all in one music making solution that’s equivalent to thousands of dollars in hardware costs. Having everything on one device allows him to focus more on the music and being creative. You can listen to Michaelw on his and Deception Records SoundCloud.
Tell us a little big about you and your music!
I’m 47 year old Michael Wadlow from Wales and until 6 months ago I hadn’t attempted to create any music for 20 years! I was first interested in electronic music when I was about 16 or 17 years old and heard the title music from a game I had on the commodore 64 called Monty Mole, it blew me away! It was created by a musician called Rob Hubbard on the then state of the art 3 channel sound chip called S.I.D.
Even today his chip music sounds amazing and back then he inspired me to dabble in music creation. With no musical knowledge and a rather uninviting tracker style piece of software (basically number imputing to control the sound chip) I started making some unattractive but totally addictive noises! My love for all electronic music just grew and grew..through jean Michael Jarre, Vangelis, Enigma and Moby… When I started working and could qualify for a loan, backed by my wonderful parents, who financed it and made sure I rightly paid them every penny back, I started to purchase hardware… M.I.D.I. Was now upon us and the possibilities blew my mind!
My first purchase was a Yamaha DX 100 keyboard later followed by a rather serious setup consisting of Korg M1, Roland D110, Alesis MT8 sequencer and an Amstrad 4 track… Ok, the last one wasn’t so serious. But I continued to make noises for my own pleasure, oblivious to anything until I ran head first into a brick wall of love Alison, my wife… tada!
What got you started with iOS music creation?
As with all things in life money was on short supply, we had just got married and my love for her outshone my love for hardware…..I know I know (you can hear ThumbJam‘s violins being played in the background) …I sold my gear! and for the last 20 yrs I’ve been blowing in the wind…
Christmas of 2011 rolled around and I received a rather surprising gift, an iPad from my wife. I then discovered the App Store and a whole new world of wonderment and love grew when I saw the music apps available and heard the marvelous sound quality that this little device was capable of! What I was doing with music 20 years ago that was costing thousands of pounds, I could now do from my lap, in my living room, or wherever for a fraction of the cost. I could finish a track and upload it directly from my iPad to SoundCloud and potentially share it with thousands of people. Try doing that 20 years ago!
A lot of people feel less productive on an iOS device because they don’t have any physical instruments to play and have a smaller screen, what can you say about writing music and being creative on the iPhone/iPad?
I can understand that mind set coming from a traditional way of writing music i.e. on a piano, keyboard, or guitar, but I think the iPad offers clear advantages over traditional methods. Personally I don’t feel the screen size on the iPad is restrictive, and being able to switch between all kinds of synths, drum machines, samplers, and effects on the fly is great! You name it, the iPads got it in some shape or form, and offering so many different things all in one compact, portable device is anything but restrictive.
Also with regards to the touch screen, what a joy to use within a musical environment! Many apps take full advantage of this in offering unique opportunities for expressive playing. As long as your mind is keyed up to using the iPad as a musical instrument and not just as a way of reaching a bank of traditional piano and guitar sounds, you can get a lot out of it. Apps like Animoog offer sounds that shift and shape depending on how you use your fingers, the XY pad is utilised on many apps giving even more possibilities for shaping and creating sound. This definitely helps to push me along and inspires me to write pieces!
For me the iPad and iPhone are one stop shops for creative outlets. Of course, there are limitations, but what else can you use to create a piece, finish the product and upload via soundcloud to potentially thousands of listeners while travelling to work or sitting in your living room with your family? In your hands you have a unique musical instrument, studio and communication tool for an unbelievably low price. So to me, it’s a no brainer as to why I use an iPad.
You’re a big studio.HD user, which is an interesting choice of DAW, what do you like the most about it?
studio.HD was the first sequencer I purchased when I first got into music making on the iPad. Now, considering how fast things are moving in the app development world, this is a pretty old app and would be considered tech wise, outdated. But I fell in love with the thing when I saw a few YouTube videos of it in action – I knew instinctively it was for me!
All the creative and constructive work is done on one scrolling screen, all the tracks are there plus the ability to layer 3 sounds on one track, all the effects, the XY pad, and your bank of recorded pieces/samples are all held for you on the same screen! It’s built for speed and the creative process of piecing your work together, you use your fingers for everything, moving bits around, editing lengths, adding effects automation. Don’t like a piece? then just drag it off screen. It’s this tactile approach to creating on every level that really appealed to me, no more back and forth with different screens – which at my age is easily confusing!
I treat this app as it should be treated, a sequencer. My writing and playing of parts happens in other apps. I copy and paste my pieces from each app then move them to studio.HD for construction, rather like a huge jigsaw. Moving pieces around, editing, and fitting everything together so that it flows. I work really fast on a piece..going back and forth constantly between the apps…dropping bits off at studio along the way and building my piece in between. I don’t use midi or background audio, I hold everything in my head. I also pick a scale that I like and set the apps up that I’m going to use so that they all correspond to the same scale, and take off from there. This way of working is not for everyone though, and that’s why I guess the most popular DAW on the market would be NanoStudio. Most of my friends use it, but it’s not for me – apart from its TRG pads which I use on loop record to bash out my percussion!
Follow Michaelw: SoundCloud, @Oldymusicman