The Idea Mug: a young artist revisits pop music in his bedroom

Musicians who produce their entire albums in their bedrooms have taken the internet by storm since the popularization of electronic dance music (EDM). This episode of “The Idea Mug” follows a young artist who started doing EDM when he was in middle school and is now a full-fledged R&B singer at just 19 years old.

“I’m not desperate to make a living. I’m lucky. Because if I’m desperate, I won’t make this kind of music,” said Matt Lyu, sitting in front of his keyboard, showing me his stream of job. .

He was adjusting a sound synthesizer software called Serum. Suddenly, the sound of his keyboard turned into the chirping of birds.

“He can be in the background. He doesn’t have to come out. So I just pan left,” Matt said, pleased with the sound.

In China, there are hundreds of thousands of so-called “chamber producers”. They write their own music, produce it and record their songs in their bedrooms.

Matt is originally from Shanghai but now makes music in Chengdu, South West China.

His studio is the living room of his apartment in Chengdu.

“I create my music based on my own emotions. Everyone has their own interpretation of it,” Matt said. “If they hear it, they think it’s happy, it represents happiness, then it’s happiness. If they think it represents calm and peace, it represents that. If they think that it’s sad, it brings back sad memories for them, that’s their interpretation.”

Matt Lyu plays drums on a MIDI controller. /CGTN

Matt Lyu plays drums on a MIDI controller. /CGTN

When I visited Matt’s home studio, he was wearing a very comfortable sweatshirt. And there were posters of musical artists like Thundercat. I also found his new album – his first album – called “Fresh Soul”.

How fresh?

Matt said he lined up the tracks wanting to give people a different feel.

And all his music was produced on this keyboard and software on his laptop.

“I feel like the most important factor is the internet,” Matt replied when I asked why there were a growing number of bedroom producers in China.

“Due to the development of the internet, people can watch tutorials on YouTube and Bilibili,” Matt said. “I think they’ll have their own laptops. When they watch tutorials on them and can buy the software on their own, they can produce music right away.”

Matt said he wanted to make music he loves, instead of songs with just commercial value. If he continues to make his music in the comfort of his room, he also has a team. It has a co-producer and a four-man marketing team, including a financial backer and a manager. I was able to participate in their business meeting on the release of a vinyl record for Matt’s first album.

“There are less than 10 vinyl production lines. Production is lacking, but prices remain reasonable. China still depends on polyethylene imports to make vinyl records,” said Li Tiangao, founder of Mintone Records and Matt’s backer. “There are three to four vinyl record production lines. It’s actually quite good, and China may have the most vinyl record production lines.”

Li Tiangao (L), Gao Fei (M), Matt’s manager and Matt Lyu discuss the cover of Matt’s first vinyl record. /CGTN

Li Tiangao (L), Gao Fei (M), Matt’s manager and Matt Lyu discuss the cover of Matt’s first vinyl record. /CGTN

I asked Li if the bedroom producers were amateurs. Here is his response:

“I think it was maybe an idea decades ago. Back then, making music required more resources. You had to have a lot of professional equipment to record a demo. You had to spend a lot of money. “money, but now the technology has advanced. If you have a laptop, a sound card and a microphone, you can start making music at home. I think it inspires musicians a lot to bring their ideas to fruition.”

“They can quickly make their music a reality, so I don’t think ‘chamber musician’ equates to ‘amateur musician'”. Yeah, I don’t think that’s accurate. Around 2014 and 2015, these major international record labels (began to show interest in Chinese independent musicians). Universal, Warner Bothers and Sony didn’t pay enough attention to independent musicians, but now they’re working together. It is an evolution,” he added.

Matt said he intends to go global. Although he is confident in his music, he still thinks he should try more and build a global career step by step.

Many chamber singers rose to fame and made a profit after their songs went viral.

It seems like a good opportunity for young talent, while others say it could poison the industry because it makes people go for successes only.

But there might be more to our favorable tunes than just going viral. The stories behind these bouncy notes and the techniques applied in different melodies can calm us, energize us and even inspire us.

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