A pre-fame Steve Lacy shows you how he recorded his debut EP in GarageBand for iPhone

Feist might think that it’s become unnecessarily complicated and abandoned it in favour of iZotope’s Spire, but a lot of artists still use GarageBand for demoing new material. In fact, plenty of music has been taken to completion in Apple’s software - Steve Lacy’s Demo, for example, his 2017 debut EP.

In a video for Wired that was released that same year, a then 18-year-old Lacy explains how he makes all of his music using GarageBand on his iPhone. He starts with a drum loop and then plugs his guitar into the phone via an IK Multimedia iRig interface and starts recording.

Vocals come next - captured while holding a pop filter up close to the iPhone’s built-in mic. Tracks are layered up until the song is complete.

Lacy refers to his genre as plaid, likening it sonically to shirts of that design. “A couple of songs it might sound like there’s a lot going on, but it doesn’t clash at all… it all goes together to be one pattern,” he explains.

In the past six years, of course, Lacy’s star has risen considerably. He’s worked with the likes of Frank Ocean, Tyler, the Creator, Solange Knowles and Kendrick Lamar, while his 2022 single Bad Habit hit number one in the US and received Grammy nominations for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

Gemini Rights, the album from which Bad Habits was taken, received the Grammy for Best Progressive R&B Album.

Steve Lacy

(Image credit: Venla Shalin/Redferns)
Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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