It's great that Justin Bieber has his Instagram back, most likely after consecrating it. There are many incredible things lurking within his feed, but the greatest Stratfordite since Shakespeare has given us a rare glimpse into his creative process with a pair of videos posted last night that depict Bacardi Biebs working on some new heat in the stu' (or, as Young Thug once put it, the 'yo). While this footage is brief, it's enough to make it clear that Justin Bieber may be the heir apparent to the ambient electronica empire once ruled over by Richard D. James a.k.a. Aphex Twin.
Firstly, Bieber is running Logic Pro 9 on his Macbook. This is actually not the most up-to-date version of the DAW, that would be Logic Pro X. However, Logic X packages all audio tracks in a project into a single file, making them tough to extract for later use. Logic 9 still saves the tracks into a project folder for convenience. Using older software... very clever. Aphex Twin uses analog hardware for his own material. Great minds think alike.
Bieber has the volume mapped to an automation curve, he knows what's up.
He also has the entire setup running out of an external mixer, rather than just an audio interface directly connected to his headphones and the monitors (which, it should be mentioned, are elevated and placed a good distance apart from each other for a proper stereo field). It's this kind of extra work that may one day lead to Bieber's dancehall-pop version of "Come to Daddy."
Speaking of daddy, Biebs records shirtless. Unsure if this helps his workflow. The beats just might be too hot.
This arpeggio is genius. C, B, D. The beat is in the key of C major even though the only chords we hear are A minor and G major. D is the 9th, which provides some lovely harmony. The last electronic musician to take their compositional chops this seriously made "Avril 14th," and that got sampled by Kanye. You do the math.
We all know Bieber is a great drummer, and this hand drum part truly proves it. The syncopation, on the offbeat, creates a clave rhythm that really brings out that Latin/tropical flavour that Bieber probably wants. If only he had this drum mic'd up so that it was actually recording into the software.
Look, we're not saying that Justin Bieber is exactly Aphex Twin. He could be closer to Boards of Canada, or Autechre, or any of the other giants of ambient electronic music. All we can definitely say is that he's putting the "intelligent" back in intelligent dance music. Long live Just-IDM Bieber.
Phil wishes he had this studio. Follow or slander him on Twitter.