By Eliana Tallarida, news correspondent
Renowned producer and DJ Erin Barra, showcased her knowledge and talent for producing electronic music in International Village on Tuesday at an event coordinated by Electronic Music at Northeastern.
Barra reproduced the song “Graceland” by Paul Simon while explaining how she uses Ableton, a music production software, to create her own music. She later held a Q&A session for attendees to inquire more about her musical history and production knowledge.
“The act of practicing [and] composition is a non-linear part of music,” Barra said. “Music is usually in a timeline, you work with music in a timeline. It’s a sort of narrative.”
Barra graduated from Berklee College of Music in 2006 with a degree in piano performance and songwriting. She then spent 10 years in Brooklyn pursuing a career as a singer-songwriter. After discovering the difficulties of a career in songwriting without experience with production equipment or programs, Barra learned how to use Ableton to produce her own music.
Barra used a Push 2 controller, an additional piece of musical equipment made specifically for Ableton, which allows her to produce, edit, and finish the song without having to touch her laptop for the most part. The finished song was roughly three minutes long and had only taken Barra about 20 minutes to put together and present as a finished project.
“From an outsider’s perspective, I know it looks way easier when you watch a professional do it than it actually is to do it on your own,” said Kassidy Heath, a third year biology and computer science major. “I really respect the time it took her to learn to do all of that, to make it look easy. You know they’re good when they make it look easy.”
Many of the students present had some experience with programs like Ableton and had done some production work themselves.
“I’ve been producing for a few years, I actually listened to her many years ago. I was really surprised that she was here,” said Jack Michaud, a freshman computer science major.
Barra also talked about how the music industry is not especially lucrative for musicians. She spoke about how many musicians and upcoming producers make almost no money and the ones who do are few and far between.
“I’ve been producing for about a year and a half now,” said Matt Rollender, freshman computer science major. “I’m hoping to pursue a career someday.”
Although she is almost finished with her sixth album, Barra said she finds teaching others how to produce much more fulfilling. Barra said the best way to break into the music industry as a producer is to keep making music as often as you can.
“You have to do it [music] because you love it and for no other reason,” she said.
Photo by Paige Howell