How to start producing lo-fi
Whether you're studying, sleeping, or just chilling out, lo-fi girl’s hip hop radio is always live on Youtube with thousands of listeners. If you would like to learn how to start producing from your home, keep reading!
L.Dre is a lo-fi producer with over 1.5 million monthly listeners on Spotify who also creates helpful and entertaining videos for any type of music producer. From production tips, fun challenges, testing plugins, breaking down beats, to his own playlists, you can find everything you need to know about producing on L.Dre’s Youtube channel.
Before you begin making lo-fi music, L.Dre mentions, “Lo-fi is supposed to be dirty and grimy. It’s meant to be easy to listen to. The listener doesn’t care too much about cleanliness as long as it isn’t softer than other songs on the playlist.”
Step 1: Find a melody
This could be a piano or acapella sample that you found online. Just make sure that it’s simple and can repeat in a loop. Everything in your track should follow a four measure phrase since that is the most common structure for pop genres. Then find a key and tempo, warp the melody to line everything up, and you’re set!
Step 2: Make a beat
L.Dre tests out a plugin called “Captain Beat” for those new to the world of lofi, but otherwise you can create one from scratch or copy a structure from one of his demo videos. You could listen to some of your favorite tracks and transcribe that too. A drum beat usually starts with a kick, a snare on beats 2 and 4, then hi-hats, and any other miscellaneous sounds that you think will fit.
Step 3: Make the chords
Again, L.Dre recommends a plugin called “Captain Chords” for the beginner, but you can make them from scratch, copy from a demo, or find a sample you like and upload it to your DAW.
Step 4: Create a bassline and harmonize
A great bassline in lo-fi music is super important to create a chill vibe for your song. Make sure it’s in the key and follows the basic structure with the other components. You could add other melodic lines or countermelodies to make your lo-fi beat a bit more interesting.
Step 5: Add cool effects
Be creative! You can find all sorts of sound samples online that go along with the theme of your song, add risers before the beat drops, vinyl static in the background for the lo-fi vibe, quotes, giggles, high heel taps, anything that fits.
Step 6: Arrange your track
L.Dre has a few videos about this step and just by listening to lo-fi songs carefully, you can make out the structure and arrangement of the beat. Usually they start with chords, add the melody, a beat drop, a slow section, another beat drop, and then the song fades. There are lots of ways to interpret this step, so do what you feel!
Step 7: Mastering
Once you’re done with creating the elements of your song, you need to blend them so they sound like one cohesive chill beat. Turn up the kick if it’s low, turn down the volume of the hi-hat and snare, beef up the bass with a decapitator, take the low ends out of the chords and melody so the bass can shine, delay or swing some elements, pan out tracks left and right to add character, pick a reverb to tie it all together, and use a limiter to make sure the volume doesn’t spike. Listen to your track on multiple speakers to find a happy balance. These are all just examples of what you could do to master your track. You have the freedom to do what you want, but remember lo-fi music is “low-quality” so there’s no need to go crazy with EQ.
There you go! You now know how to make a lo-fi track and are on your way to producing even more. For more tips and general production fun, I highly suggest you check out L.Dre’s Youtube channel! Listen to my single “Blessed” using the link below for inspiration. Good luck!
Blessed - Euphie
Dre, L. L.Dre, YouTube, 18 Feb. 2017, https://www.youtube.com/c/ProdByLDre/.
Lofi Hip Hop Radio - Beats to Relax/Study to - Youtube.