Remember these names: RIIDEM and Tengboy.
One is an established songwriter, mixing engineer and producer, the other an up and coming rapper and singer – you’ll find them hard to miss in the growing music scene here in Singapore. And right now, they’re riding the wave of their their latest collaboration “SMOKESCREEN”.
Like many of us here in Singapore and around South East Asia, we’ve spent a good chunk of time at home. And even now, we’re still finding new ways to stay creative and productive at home – artists like RIIDEM and Tengyboy are no different.
We had the pleasure of catching up with both Tengyboy and RIIDEM and got an insight into their production processes at home and more. They even gave us a glimpse of their home setup and how they record, all on video! And if you somehow find yourself wanting snippets of their talents, these videos might do.
When did you first record something by yourself at home and got to releasing it?
RIIDEM: The first time was back in 2007 when I had picked up producing and learned how to record my raps on top of the beats I made in Fruity Loops. It was really an amateur release on Myspace and early days Facebook video. It was done all on the shared PC of my family in the living room and I had barely had a proper setup.
Tengyboy: I’ve only recently started to record from home because I never had a mic back then. Thankfully, I’ve had lots of experiences with the home studios of all the people I work with. I started recording about 4 years ago and I’ve known how to ever since.
What inspired you to produce your own music?
R: I guess the idea of being able to connect yourself with the entire world through your own creation. Like I remember as a kid hopping on to the bus on the way to the school listening to FM radio and I was just amazed how someone thousands of miles away made a song and somehow got me emotionally attached to a composition. It made me realise that music could express how I felt at any moment and step of my life. Music was really a spiritual process for me and I had all the drive to pursue it.
T: The hard work and the product that I see people are putting out. Producers who are determined to do things that everyone is afraid to try. It’s still a learning process for me as I am very interested in creating my own beats from scratch because no one can envision your song more than yourself.
If someone is hesitant about recording at home, what piece of advice would you give them?
R: In my opinion, recording at home is actually the best place to record your projects. Your home is a place of comfort and familiarity and that is where you’d be yourself the most and the music you make is always best when it represents you best. Somehow being in your own place can really help express a sense of artistic intimacy and speak a sense of belonging.
T: You shouldn’t be. Your house is not only the most convenient place to record and produce, but it is also the place where you can freely express yourself. You should be the most comfortable at home to do your recordings whenever.
Home recording setups can sometimes be daunting, let alone professional recording studios! How would you start recording music at home in the easiest, quickest way possible?
R: The best way to tackle such issues would be to have an easy and simple work station with a good working template. Most of the time many producers/artists tend to equip way too much, thinking that’ll speed up the creative process but to be honest from my experience the best and most efficient work is done when the work system you have is simple and unassailable.
All you really need is a good DAW(ie. Logic Pro X/ABLETON) with a great working template like for instance If you’re on a songwriting session all you need are your drum/bass tracks, keys and a vocal track. A simple no frill AI and a decent mic and you’re able to do wonders wherever you are in the world.
T: The most important thing to do before you record at home is get the right Key and BPM of the song. If either of these 2 things are wrong, it might mess up your recording. Standing up is the best way to record as you are able to groove to the beat and it helps for you project more. Make sure you find the right tone that you want to use as every song has its different feel to it.
What does your ideal simple setup look like?
R: I have my Mac Mini connected to a BandLab Link Digital which makes for a perfect sound card/vocal pre for me to get started on my creative work.
I have a small MIDI keyboard and a $150 microphone, and trust me that’s it. It’s crazy how such a small device like BandLab’s Link Digital allows me to navigate and create so much with it taking barely any space on my work table and I’m able to create studio quality records.
What would that recording process look like?
R: Well, I’ll be honest – it’s so simple I barely have to even do anything. It’s really a plug in and go create a major hit sorta situation. All I do is plug in my Link Digital audio interface into my Mac Mini, run my studio monitors and microphone through it and automatically my Mac has all its audio setting synced to one device which allows me to just start really fast without having to open mix windows or configure or map stuff out on my DAW.
T: First I set up my computer and attach the Link Digital Duo Audio Interface which is very easy to set up, no guidance really needed. I login to BandLab on the web, make sure there is no latency when I record because that is vital for a good recording. I make use of the audio jack adapter so that my headphones are able to run through the interface. After I’m done recording a part of my verse, I always take one or two more takes of the same lines just in case.
What do you like about the Link Digital?
R: The fact it’s so small so neat and clean! It’s honestly a no brainer and doesn’t take a rocket scientist to get it working. These days with such technology all I need is such a pocket size interface like the Link Analog Mini and I can be travelling anywhere and still be able to write pop records for my clients or the artist that I collaborate with. Honestly I love how its really applicable and super tactile for both beginners and pros to go seamless with their creative process.
T: Firstly, it looks very sleek which is good because some audio interfaces look very bulky but the Link Digital has a unique shape and is very intriguing. Secondly, it has very few words that might scare people who are new to the home recording scene and the Link Digital helps a lot by keeping the wordings on the device itself to a minimal. With three knobs, one for the master volume and the other two for gain, it’s a fairly simple, yet effective product to use.
We’re all spending our time at home. How have you had to adapt to these changes as an artist?
R: Well, I’ve always worked from my home studio and thankfully nothing changes much for me in any way. Over the years, working in various environments have made me adaptable to any situation.
T: I feel that we are all struggling with the Covid-19 situation, not just artists. However, this gives us more time to think about our craft and the music that we want to put out. When staying home was a luxury for some of us due to our busy schedules, we were not able to properly get any peace of mind to work on our own music. Now with the time that we have, we can properly concentrate and the things that we want to and and not get distracted which is exactly what I’ve been doing at home, working on my own music.
Have you been making more music at home?
R: Most definitely and I love how I’m able to have this alone time grow more individually and self reflect on my working process. A lot of learning is done as well!
T: A lot more than I would have expected. I already have more than 10 tracks recorded in the span of a week.
Tell us more about your collaboration with each other.
R: Tengy is just way too talented! The kid is melody machine and is super versatile. Being able to rap and sing and write his own material at such a young age I can only imagine the star the world awaits. I truly see lots of potential in him and I’m sure he’ll be in the big leagues very soon as he embodies everything needed from a true successful artist.
T: RIIDEM is one of the most respected producers in the music industry and working with him has always been an experience and a blessing. During the process of writing SMOKESCREEN, we were actually flooded with ideas and I can’t wait for more music that is about to come out of RIIDEM and I.
When he showed me the beat, I knew I had to do my best on the track because I wanted to do this crazy good beat justice. We both came up with the hook and the verses in the span of a week.
For young and aspiring artists getting started, the music industry may seem a bit nerve-wracking. Since you both have been in the music industry for a while now, do you have advise to young musicians on navigating the industry?
…never make anything to impress the rest but create what you believe expresses you well and allows you to be yourself.
R: The real success plan is you’ve gotta believe in yourself. Obstacles and failures are really the steps before one reaches their goals. I only believe in learning from every process be it a success or failure. There will be many people be it from the industry who’ll have their opinions of your work and many may critique you for all you do and that may hinder you from progressing forward. To be honest music is ART and it’s self expression so never make anything to impress the rest but create what you believe expresses you well and allows you to be yourself.
T: Trust in the process. It doesn’t happen overnight to everyone. There will always be ups and downs during the journey you embark on but you need to hustle everyday and find ways to improve yourself all the time. There are a lot of players in this game and competition is always around, which is a good thing because it shows you that you always have to get better at it to keep up. Don’t give up on the thing that you love to do the most and make sure that you surround yourself with people who share the same vision with you and who want to see you succeed, even if you make it before them.
You have to put your trust in certain companies and collaborators too. One of them I’ve worked with is Spinnup. They are there to help you get your songs heard by the right people, and by the right people, I mean a big label like Universal Music Singapore. Spinnup has helped a lot of young artists by getting them the attention that they deserve and helping them get their songs to the audiences.
You can find more artist features like these on our blog here.