David Producing An Album On The iPad? Yup, There’s An Artist For That!

On her blog, NYC-based producer & DJ Rana June Sobhany asks:

Can the iPad revolutionize music creation? Is it possible to rock the house for an hour using only two iPads and an iPhone using only apps downloaded from the App Store? One girl ventures to find out.

Destroy The Silence is Rana’s experiment to produce and mix an entire album without using any synths or laptops. She just released Volume One of her experiment and since she made SoundCloud an integral part of her project, we were intrigued by all this iPad craze (we’re big fans too!) and needed to know more.

Rana! This is exciting, tell us about the project: what’s the idea and why the iPad?

I am experimenting with an idea I had 3 weeks ago where I am doing live music production and DJing using nothing more than two iPads and a simple DJ mixer. I am a believer in the power and opportunities that come from touch screen computing and mobile applications and this project is the culmination of all of my experiences in music and in working on the mobile side combined into one concept.

I come from the technology side in terms of my career but music has always been a very important part of my life. From making it, listening to it, appreciating it, studying it, I have always found solace in music. Some of the most incredible musicians I’ve ever met write code for a living. I think that there’s something to that. Before this, I build an analytics company for iPhone apps and I spent day and night knee-deep in data. I absolutely love looking for patterns and structure in data. Music is mathematics, so it wasn’t a big jump to try to find interesting patterns in music as well, and the iPad represents something much bigger than a tablet computer to me. The future is going to based on portable computing platforms that are completely integrated into our lives. This is just the beginning of that.

Why is the iPad an interesting platform for music making and what apps have you used for this mix?

The iPad bridges the gap between real instruments and computers. When you introduce a tactile component such as throwing a loop into the mix or triggering a sound sample, it feels more like playing music than using a computer. I think that this is where the benefits lie to musicians looking to incorporate touch screen computers into their set-ups. There’s sort of this perfect storm in terms of touch interfaces right now due to the movie Minority Report, the iPhone and now the iPad. The mouse will soon become obsolete and there will be some huge strides made with regard to haptic feedback on these multi-touch surfaces. Even now, when I use some of the drum machines apps, you can actually feel the bass when you touch the pad on screen, and I would love to see this extend to feedback from touching keys on a keyboard and the feeling of changing a setting on a knob. I bring this up because I think that the better and more intuitive the iPad and other tablet interfaces become, the more likely it is that regular consumers will see the value and opportunity in transitioning to these platforms.

The apps:
Looptastic HD
IK Multimedia Groovemaker Series – House, Hip Hop
Pianist Pro
Korg iElectribe
Easy Beats LRG

Which is currently the best music app for the iPad and what features would an app need to make it *the* music production app on the iPad?

The iPad does not allow for sound libraries to be shared between apps, so I really do end up using all of the apps I have. It’s very hard to pick a favorite. But for what I’m doing, Looptastic HD has been absolutely inspiring. I am currently recording a lot of my own samples and loops to be able to truly create the music I want to be making using the iPads, and now that the Camera Kit has been released, I can plug in USB devices to my iPad. This will really open up opportunities for music making. The new iPhone OS 4.0 will make a lot of the apps I use a lot more usable for music production and DJing because of the multitasking feature that is being introduced. Being able to quickly switch between apps will hopefully eliminate my need for a hardware mixer, which is what I’m really looking forward to.

What’s the main difference between making music on an iPad and on a laptop/desktop?

It’s hard enough to mix beats together when dealing with laptops. Now imagine that with two independent computing platforms with no ability to sync. The lack of multitasking in the OS makes it really hard to transition quickly between apps. There really is no room for error. There are so many things happening at once that it can be dizzying when you consider the timing and rhythmic elements to making music on iPad. That being said, the iPad handles a lot of the grunt work when it comes to aligning rhythms and matching tempos. Having the ability to monitor sounds through the mixer I’m using also makes it easy to experiment with sonic ideas on the fly and iterate as needed. I haven’t stopped playing music on the iPad since I got it, so I think that’s a testament to the fun-factor of it. Again, this is a brand new platform and there is so much innovation that’s going to happen here within the next 6 months. That being said, I am doing this using only “stock” applications and I’m able to get some pretty good musical ideas across to listeners so I am very excited about the potential here.

In your opinion, will the iPad change music making and if so, how? Will more people use the iPad for music creation?

I think that people often lose sight of the fact that the iPad has only been available for 3 weeks. Most of the developers who have released the applications I use in this set-up didn’t have an iPad to work with when they built their apps. Now that the iPad has been in the wild, developers are going to be able to custom tailor their apps to work with the modality of using an iPad, and I believe that the next few revisions of apps like IK Multimedia’s Groovemaker Series and Looptastic HD are going to become powerhouses as a result. I am trying to demonstrate the power and capabilities of the iPad, and I hope that it will inspire people to think outside the box as it relates to tablet computing and music.

With SoundCloud, we’re trying to get developers to connect their applications with our platform to enable simply sharing to the web. What role does music sharing means for you with this project and what’s your take on sharing music via the web?

It’s vital! I really rely on the feedback of musicians I respect in helping me shape the next generation of music I’m making using my setup, and SoundCloud has been an integral part of that. I know that many in the music community are scared by the notion of sharing music or giving it away for free. I think that this industry really needs to evolve and understand the power in introducing music to new listeners. Those worried about lost monetary opportunities are being short sighted. I am very fortunate to be able to have access to a platform like SoundCloud for this experiment and I am so appreciative of the tools SoundCloud provides me in measuring my audience and understanding what’s working and what’s not with the new music I’m releasing.

Great stuff, Rana! Thanks a lot for taking the time to answer these questions for us!

Everyone, check out Destroy The Silence | Volume One below and watch Robert Scoble interview her in this 17-minute video over on Gizmodo.

If you’re developing a music creation app for the iPad, we’d love to speak with you about integrating SoundCloud for an easy-export to the web to host and share the music produced with the app. Email us at api [at ]soundcloud [dot] com

  • Chris

    I'm still convinced this woman has no idea what the heck she is doing, at least musically. She's got marketing down, I guess.

    Sorry, but playing Electribe presets off a couple of touch screen devices and plugging them into a mixer does not a DJ make. I really wish people would stop giving her so much attention when there are so many real artists doing things that are actually cool and not just novel.

  • @chris, agreed. Also, she has had an active soundcoud account for a mere month, two mixes on it (one is a promo) and there has been talk via twitter between soundcloud and the woman herself, presumably about this.
    Now, i dont mean to sound speculative but to me that just makes her last paragraph completely null.

    The rest of this interview is the same tripe that we've been hearing for days now. I don't have an objection to moving technology onward and upward, I do have a problem with the way she is doing it… making herself out to be a legend before she has proved her worth…

  • Bobbo

    but she's so sexy…!

  • She's the new Web 2.0 kind of “DJ” – good at “spinning” just not with records.

    What she's doing is like what I did as a kid trying to get two Casio keyboards on autorhythm to play in sync by hitting start at the same time, except she's using the latest shiny toy to do it instead.

  • @seddon @chris Why so negative? Ok, I don't like this music much either, but then she's got some nice build-ups and it's perfectly in sync and danceble. And presets? Doesn't a dj spin pre-recorded stuff?

    I love the ipad for music idea, the tactile control seems great for that!

  • Ray

    I'm glad to see someone thinking in the same direction as myself.
    I'm getting the 3G iPad in May and I plan to use it mainly as a control surface in my DJ rig.

    I was impressed by the Mutant Jazz Lemur touch screen control surface but it is $2000.00.
    The iPad is a bargain at $700.00.

    I wholly expect Ableton to produce an iPad app to control it Live 8 GUI.

  • Dear Soundcloud, please why are you of all places giving any attention to this chick?
    Don't you realise how very insulting this is to real dj's? The very people who use soundcloud and gave it the popularity it has today.
    People who've worked like crazy for years to perfect their skill and try and invest all the time, energy and money they have in decent gear and records just to get noticed. And then this spoiled broad comes in, with no experience or knowledge or even any sense of rhythm, but with enough money to buy two ipads and dares to call herself a dj…

    Yes, of course the Ipad could be a very nice control device for dj-ing and real talented people could take this to whole new levels. That's not the point. Why this chick gets all this attention as the world's first Ipad dj is beyond me. She's not a dj, she's not the first, she's not any good, she has no taste.
    Well I guess she's nice to look at….

  • I heart rana

    perfect comment, exactly what i think. you have to look no further on youtube than “Denkitribe” to see how gear like this is being used with both skill and with a humble approach (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5atTOXRgybg). I detest her arrogance so much!

  • Pingback: An iPad DJ?! | DJViBE.com()

  • Pingback: An iPad DJ?! | Digital-Octane Follow you DJ()