Billie Eilish wins 5 Grammy Awards with an album she and her brother Finneas recorded in their bedroom studio.
Does this mean everybody can do the same now or are there some important lessons we can learn from their succes?
Hi guys! This is Ben from ashtonmusicacademy.com and I hope you are having a great day. I just got back from LA (from the NAMM show) and I had a great time! I already miss the sunshine and the good weather, I’m back in Amsterdam right now actually and the weather kind of sucks. It’s pretty cold out here and it’s raining.
But anyway let’s get into today’s video. Today I’m going to talk about winning a Grammy with music you’ve made in your bedroom. Yes, I’m talking about Billie Eilish who won a number of Grammys this week. She won (let me check) best album, best song, best new artist, best record and best vocal album. Yes, Billy Eillish she’s only 18 years old she’s the youngest and the youngest female who’s ever one that many Grammys in one go so congratulations to her, great job.
But the interesting thing about this huge success that Billy Eilish had with her album is that it was all recorded in a bedroom together with her brother Finneas (who is the producer of the record). This is amazing news because this affirms that you can make Grammy winning music with simple gear, simple equipment that everybody has access to. Everybody that has a laptop or a PC can make stuff like this and can end up winning Grammys. So that’s amazing!
So let’s talk about some of the lessons we can learn from her and her brother about making music in a bedroom. Why is it so successful and why does it or doesn’t it matter if you’re using simple gear in a bedroom? So what is it about the music of Billy Eilish that is so successful? Well, obviously it’s not that it’s that it’s recorded in a huge professional studio. No, it’s the creativity that’s behind the music. It’s the songs that makes it great. It’s her voice, it’s the production. So already that’s kind of a lesson we can learn here that it’s not important what kind of gear you’re using as long as your song is great and as long as your voice is great, as long as the production is great.
There’s a video on YouTube about the home studio that they recorded this album in where you can take a look at their gear and the small bedroom she recorded all her vocals for this album sitting on her brother’s bed, just sitting down having the microphone set up. So the funny thing I noticed is that there were a number of times where you could see a sign that they put up on their walls. They even had like a neon lights made of it which said ‘10,000 hours’. Now what does this reference to? This references to the number of hours you have to put in in order to be really good at something. They say you have to put in at least 10,000 hours in order for you to be really good at something. Obviously they know this otherwise they wouldn’t have put it up on their walls. They’ve put in the hours to be really good at their craft and this is important because when you’re really good at your craft it doesn’t really matter what kind of tools you use, but it’s more what you do with those tools. So again this demonstrates that it’s not important that you buy the most expensive gear or that you use really high-end mic preamps, external compressors and have perfect room acoustics.
Now it’s important that you know what you’re doing. Finneas O’Connell who is the producer of the Billy Eilish album and her older brother actually set this in an interview, let me read it to you. “When I was starting to make music I thought I had to pay a bunch of people to do all my things professionally and that that would be the only way I would ever have any success. It’s really important for kids (and for us I guess) to not think that there’s something intangible and out of reach for them. The truth is that you just have to make a song that people like (let me repeat that last sentence) the truth is that you just have to make a song that people like.” If you have a great song it doesn’t really matter what kind of gear you’re using to record it to produce it because the song is inherently good. You could play the song on an acoustic guitar and people would still love it – that’s the sign that you have a good song.
So I would say just get some basic stuff if you want to get into recording music at home and don’t really worry about what kind of gear this is. Don’t worry about the fact that maybe you don’t have the same equipment that the pros use. Yes of course the pros have maybe better equipment, of course it’s awesome to be recording in a professional recording studio but it’s not necessary. You can make grammy-winning music in your bedroom or in your home studio. Billie Eilish proves this so i would say the take-away from this huge experience in Billie Eilish’ career is that there is nothing stopping us from making the best music possible and that you and I can also make grammy-winning music. You just need some basic gear.
In the interview with Finneas from which i just quoted a few lines he also mentioned what kind of gear he’s using to record this Billie Eilish music and it’s just simple stuff. it’s an iMac computer, a Universal Audio Apollo interface, a simple MIDI keyboard, a cheap Audio-Technica microphone and not the most expensive one (so it’s basically like a budget microphone) and he is using a Yamaha HS5 monitors, which are those small monitors. And don’t think that his room acoustics are the best. No, he’s just in a tiny small bedroom and he’s put his stuff into bookshelves on the wall and he’s still making great music.
So this proves that you don’t need to have your room acoustics be perfect, though he’s being smart about it. He knows that his acoustics aren’t perfect so what he does after he is he finished the song is he sends all the stems (which are the separate tracks) to a mixing engineer without having the mixing engineer redo everything. He is not changing reverbs, he’s not changing panning and stuff but he’s just making sure that the low end is right, because that’s one thing that is really hard to get right in a home studio. So what I would recommend is to try to get your low end as good as possible and listen to a lot of different reference tracks, because those reference tracks probably are mixed in an acoustic environment that’s good. So you can get an idea of what your low end is supposed to sound like and if you can try to send your mix to a friend or someone with a acoustically treated room to get a second opinion so he or she can give you some feedback on how to improve the low end and your mix in general.
So this hopefully sets the bar for us home studio producers and home studio musicians to make music that is Grammy worthy it hopefully proves that we are able to do the same – that we can try to switch something in our mindset – so we can focus on making high-quality music and not letting the fact that we maybe don’t have professional equipment get in the away. But try to make use of the equipment we do have. I remember a quote by Casey Neistat. he was talking about which camera gear you should buy and he said: “The best camera is the one you can afford”. This also applies to us home studio musicians. The best microphone is the one you can afford. The best audio interface is the one you can afford. So try to get some basic stuff and go make music.
To help you get started on making music in your home studio I made a Home Studio Jump Start Guide in which I talk about what kind of basic equipment you need to make music in your home studio. I give you my recommendations on what kind of microphone you should get, what kind of audio interface you should buy and I talk you through on how to set it up and how to get the most of it so you will also be able to make Grammy worthy music. You can download this guide for free by entering your email address below.
I’m looking forward to hearing what kind of music you and I will come up with and I hope you also win a Grammy someday! So let’s do it, let’s go for it and have a good one! Don’t forget to download my free guide, click on a subscribe button if you’re not subscribed yet and press the like button on YouTube if you thought this video was helpful to you and I’ll see you in the next one. Cheers!