Recorded my first eight-track electronic pop album with Auxy during the pandemic

I’m super proud of this album I just released because it’s my first time doing electronic music.

For me Ableton live always seemed too scary but Auxy’s interface just felt right and I could move quickly with my ideas. I’m pretty old school when it comes to music.

Here is the link to the whole album on bandcamp.
(fyi. these are not DJ tracks or house or techno, they are more like pop songs with lyrics etc. and a danceable beat)

Lorem ipsum - An Auxy Pop Album

If you’d like to read about my process. Read below, Thanks all.
Best
Jon Cohen Experimental


My process:
(Please excuse the length of this! I get into a lot of detail).

  1. Time, lots of it…since the pandemic I have had a lot of free time and no one to play with so I jumped on this opportunity to do a new project of making an album using only my iphone SE (pretty bad phone actually). It took a great deal of micro managing music to get to a place I liked so I spent a lot of time making beats on my phone non stop. Couldn’t have done this without the free time the pandemic afforded me so at least there is a silver lining to all this for me.

  2. I built up almost entirely all the music using Auxy. Their music blocks interface made it really easy for my brain to create parts, to move through the different segments of a song, to organize the music, instead of waveforms which can take forever, bravo auxy for creating an interface that idiots like me can use!

  3. I wanted to make sure the music did not fall into the “loop” trap, meaning I did not want every loop or pass to sound the same (same drums, same melody etc) so I made sure each part of my songs had 16 to 32 measures and i did a lot of copy paste then slightly altered each part so although it sounded the same, it was still different even if the changes were subtle.

  4. I LOOOOOVE the instrument library of auxy and especially the names, I prefer “Canoe” or "Angry Bass’’ or names like that to “AR414A or X33SE” etc, to me that’s just mental masturbation. Just let me hear the sound! I also like that there aren’t’ too many options to mess with the sounds, like in ableton, I get lost in all the options. TOO MANY CHOICES MAN! It kills the creativity, I like to keep moving forward, to keep the juices flowing, as soon as I get bogged down in a envelope filter quandary or why is my lop warped when the bpm follow button is on while the quantize 16th is set to blah blah blah… Sorry I’m leaving this party. Although Auxy is unlimited in possibilities, it’s workflow limits are what make it so great. Don’t change that! My message to Auxy : don’t get too complicated or you’ll turn people off. Does anyone else in this community also feel like Ableton was too much of a mountain to climb?

  5. I also used other apps on my phone for variety, Moog, and electribe and also garage band when I wanted to bring in organic instruments, which I did quite a bit of at the end cause I wanted to give the music a "human” or ‘organic’ ’ feel. I added piano, acoustic guitar, xylophone, and of course voices, I did harmonies with some of my friends, added percussion etc. I did this using an iRig for microphones and guitars and did a lot (A LOT) of file exports to add on new instruments in line with the music Garageband app as the last step of the process.

  6. One of my favourite effects in auxy is Ducking, I just love the pumping sound and I find it makes the music so much more vibrant, let me know what you think of that. The delays and choruses and other effects were also great and their interface of just squiggly lines (to show amounts) running through the measures was brilliant. So visual!

  7. I downloaded all the individual stems from auxy as well as mixdowns, and the whole thing was saved on iCloud. there was actually a lot of what I’d call modern day track bouncing. I’m sure the way I did it was not optimal and was probably way more time consuming, but it was the only way I knew how. Though I normally hate iCloud, this time it was my saving grace. I dropped my phone in the kitchen sink once and freaked out because I was 90% finished and it got soaked. I then found all my stems on icloud and just transfered everything thank God for that.

  8. When I was finally happy with all the tracks I mixed it on a regular system with my friend Steve who has some nice outboard gear. In retrospect I’m not sure this was a totally necessary step as the music in Auxy lives in a vacuum already and is perfectly mixed, already pre EQd and pre compressed etc. But like I said, I’m old school and I have to follow the path I know. So for better or for worse I mixed it outboard OOTB (out of the box).

Tell me what you think and if you did something similar. I’d love to hear your thoughts or ideas on this process, as I plan to do more in the future. I’m so excited someone like auxy actually opened the front door to electronic music for me with a language I could understand.

Keep up the great work Auxy!!
love and happy new year.

5 Likes

This is fantastic. I haven’t signed in here in quite some time but I felt compelled to pop in quick and jot some notes down here.

First off, very cool to outline your process! I’ve always told people it’s cool to let people look “behind the curtain” a bit because it makes it more personal and frankly it’s more interesting, it’s more human. You can connect more with what’s going on since we’re all in the same boat, we just don’t know it :slight_smile:

For your first foray into electronic music this is so good, very much pop electronic vibes. Like The Postal Service, but more of a Phoenix edge to it. Hard to explain but such a good listen.

Never really hear stuff around here with vocals and lyrics, so that’s a very welcome change.

I’ve got questions!

Before the outboard mixing phase, where was the final landing space for the arrangement? Was it Auxy, or GarageBand? My experience working in GarageBand with stems (specifically, exporting them) is a total nightmare (easy to get stuff in, not too easy to get it out). Working with stuff like vocals and longer instrument passages in Auxy is also a nightmare (due to the 20 second sample limit and the fact there’s no timeline for audio).

Was the phone that dropped in the sink ok? I recall using Auxy on an SE as well, the old one, and man, that screen is cramped lol. So kudos to you and your Herculean patience!

I agree with your point 4 - this is the trap I fall in. Sometimes I want to spend time turning knobs and getting an LFO or some other effect chain just perfect, like a science experiment, and other times I want to just write damn music :slight_smile: it’s easy to fall into a bottomless pit of tweaking on apps like Live (or in my case Reason) because it’s such an open canvas with really no boundaries whatsoever (outside of your CPU and memory limitations on the hardware). Auxy mostly gets out of the way, and yeah there’s stuff I’d like to see in there, but what it does it does very well and very transparently.

LOVE that you used other apps, another thing I don’t see much around here. There’s so many awesome apps on iOS and integrating them with Auxy isn’t that hard. It would really help a lot of folks overall sound and feel to pick up a couple of other apps to complement the sound set already in Auxy.

The track Young Lion… was that the default Auxy name? lol… that’s such an Auxy random generated track title.

Very much in the same boat as you, I haven’t done much lately (I’m like the polar opposite, being home this whole time has sucked away ALL my time for stuff like this thanks to the kids) but typically the process was using something like AUM or other iOS apps in standalone to export loops of other AUv3’s to use in Auxy. Favorites of mine include Blocs Wave and Groovebox (Ampify), Model 15, all the Bram Bos stuff, Quanta and Tardigrain (for weird granular synth stuff). For cutting up all the too long stuff or drum slices (or instrument slices) for consumption in Auxy I always used ReSlice (Virsyn) - I’m sure there’s better options, but it’s what I know and it’s fast.

Outside of Auxy, I really enjoy using GarageBand. People can slag on it all they want but show me another rock stable iOS app that can handle audio on a timeline, has built in instruments that sound GREAT (in addition to being able to load third party instruments and effects), works just as well on a phone as an iPad and oh, is FREE. That’s a tough nut to crack.

When I need to get a little more technical with sequencing and automation I’ll use NanoStudio 2. If NS2 had proper audio tracks I’d probably switch over to that full time. So that’s a little bit on the way I work :slight_smile:

PLEASE do. I am looking forward to it! This was so refreshing to listen to I plan on jamming out to this some more.

Favorite tracks:

Rhode Island
Réveille-moi (REALLY like this one)
My Time Machine
Break Me

Hey Iammane,

Thanks very much for your thoughtful feedback Iammane, it’s super appreciated and makes me feel like I’m not insane for writing a pseudo-book about this stuff.:wink: SInce this process was so different I feel it would be important to catalog it So to speak in a better way. My plan in the new year is to make a video of the process and put it on youtube. I figure I can more or less recreate one track from scratch and take people through the process, or at least a shorthand version of it. I have all the stems and the project templates too, So unless Auxy has changed their format and my old files don’t work on it anymore, I’ll def do this.

I’m glad you like the music, at the end of the day it really comes down to the music doesn’t it? I wanted to actually make songs with this, as opposed to just "making beats’’ as someone like Steve Lacy would say (he produced kendrick lamar and did lots of stuff with an iPhone). His video was a bit of the spark that got me thinking I can do this.

So let me unravel this response bit by bit and try to tackle this best I can online, there’s a lot. I’m of course a big fan of Postal Service,Phoenix and all those early 2000 bands like OK GO Flaming Lips etc. That rubs off in the songwriting for sure. Where it comes into play is when I incorporated the sounds from Auxy,. That kind of "transformed’’ the songwriting. I had to rethink how I write songs when I made the album, and had to think more in terms of series of parts, loops of music, rather than one overarching theme that flows through the song. It was a great experiment and I’m glad it took the music to such great places. So yeah, Auxy isn’t just for DJs and beat makers but alSo for songwriters if you know how to adapt your songwriting.

So thanks So much for the nice comments. I’m So glad you liked it, it’s super encouraging for me to keep making more and to feel like this wasn’t a total mistake :wink:

Ok So not your questions here we go!

Final landing space was not GarageBand,that was my tool to export mixes and add organic instruments. It was a bit of a blind prices, because I had to have faith that when I came back to Auxy for the final export (which only in steam not in 2tk master) everything would line up and it did for about 80% of it, but I did have to tweak some parts in an external DAW when I mixed with the album with my buddy, it was inevitable and of course in a perfect would I would have avoided it. But the fact I got 80% there with most individual stems lining up perfectly in the mix, with say a vocal take or a piano line, I think is a testament to the painstaking effort I took to make mental marklers of where a part should start and end. I integrated some external app sounds into Auxy and even one with its own effect chain (Flux for example), I was surprised that it wasn’t a hair ripping experience as I thought it would be. So I guess you could say there was not one landing space but two. The first was Auxy stems all that lives inside Auxy, the other was everything else, that is every other app I used *(Moog, Electribe, on break me for example, or all the organic instruments recorded using either the iPhone microphone.

As for dropping it in the sink doing dishes, the phone was ok in the end, it was a close call, not full immersion into water but enough to make me think twice about backing everything up! Truth be told, the screen on the SE is small, but I hate big phones, I like to fit mine in my pocket and hell you can get used to anything after a while right? So don’t think by the end it even bothered me.

About the iPhone SE, there’s a lot to complain about for sure, but one thing it has going for it is it has amazing compressors on the microphones, especially the 2015 model SE)… Everyone I know disses the SE and with good reason, no doubt, the camera sucks, the interface is small and as an apple product it has a limited shelf life and the battery dies quidckl;y, but one thing i’ll give it is the microphone on the 2016 model is INCREDIBLE (no really i’m not kidding) you know that sound the beatles get on drums, that very compressed but very soft, very vaseline, very smooth out edges sound, it does that! In fact all the jams I record with my band, if the mic is placed in the right spot it’s like OMG that sounds amazing, then I try to reproduce that sound in the studio with polteks and 1176s and it doesn’t sound nearly as good. So go figure.

So yeah , the mic is great, I did all the pianos with just the iPhone mic and it sounded great, powerful and gritty but always very present. I did acoustic guitars with it, only used the iRig for certain elements. In the end everything was in tandem, garage band doing its thing with 2tk masters from Auxy and Auxy doing it’s thing with the rest and then everyone met for the first time (minus the scratch masters from the last version of Auxy mixes) at the mixing board at the end. I never worked with outboard stuff or out app stuff in Auxy, I tried but like you say I don’t think they’ve figured out how to best do this yet, I even remember trying to use their ableton live adaptation and it was all wron whe it ended up that DAW. So I gave up on that, I’m sure this is something they will fix soon. It has no intention of breaking up my tracks to fit the aux format because it would kill the feeling for me, and my brain just doesn’t work like that.

Hope this answers your question without rambling on. I think i’ll definitely make a video of this to better explain, get and post to my channel. i’ll send you a link when it’s up.

you wrote: “it’s easy to fall into a bottomless pit of tweaking on apps like Live (or in my case Reason) because it’s such an open canvas with really no boundaries whatsoever (outside of your CPU and memory limitations on the hardware). Auxy mostly gets out of the way, and yeah there’s stuff I’d like to see in there, but what it does it does very well and very transparently.”

This I think is something I find with many apps that start off simple and get complicated. I hope it does not happen to Auxy. I never understand why when it comes to software engineers are always trying to fix something that isn’t broken. If it’s good leave it alone. Don’t try to constantly be improving something that works. Auxy changed their layout twice over the course of my tenure doing this album, and although there were improvements it does throw you for a loop like all of a sudden you gotta relearn everything. But the flow is what’s most important, the idea that you can create music, sometimes not even knowing what you’re doing. In a way it’s a bit like computer assisted music, but you are also relying on random patterns you create to come up with something good, it’s like “co-creation” but not in a bad way. I’ll be the first to admit not everything I wrote was intentional. Much of it I stumbled onto by just filling blocks here and there and seeing what comes out. What was intentional was where the riff would go and what sounds I would choose over others. I wanted to go to other apps in a way to get a different sound. I know it’s all in the box but the algorithms are different and I can hear them too (call me crazy) . As you say, when it comes to iOS they all speak the same language so integrating two of them is not that hard. I was looking into the groovebox too but in the end it’s more “what will get me moving and writing and ENJOYING the fastest?” With Auxy, the best feature is how quickly you can get creating. It doesn’t all have to all be good either. If you’re creative 20 times with Auxy as opposed to 3 times with Ableton, then there’s a good chance one of those musical pieces is gonna be a keeper, whereas with Live you’re still troubleshooting 2 hours later. Although my stuff is all in the box the end result could have been done anywhere and I attribute this to having mixed elsewhere. I think when I do this again in either not gonna mix it but just arrange the levels and master directly.

Re : “Young Lion track title” Hahaha ! You know I don’t remember exactly how that name came about, but now that you mention it that’s most probably what happened! So funny, yes it makes sense. I must have liked the random generator name and probably wrote the song lyrics around it, cause I don’t think I would have come up with that name by myself. Amazing. thanks for that comment. somehow that escaped me!

I would love to hear some of your stuff Iammane. Is it on your page? So please Send links and thanks so much, and send some of your music and let’s keep the convo going, good to know there’s other peeps out there doing something similar and we can swap cheat sheets!

Great to meet you and happy new year!