Arts & Entertainment, Music

Alicia, the Producer

Alicia Keys

Lesson time 10:33 min

Take a look inside Alicia’s sound booth as she discusses the roles she takes on to produce her distinct sound.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Creating vs. Arranging · Be a Rebel With Your Sound


[UPBEAT MUSIC] - So we are in my vocal booth, and this is the live room. It's called the live room. Usually there's two rooms, two main. Rooms there's a live room, and there's a control room. And the live room is where you do vocals or where you do live piano or you do drums or you do, you know, anything you can possibly imagine that wants to be a bit more ambient and spacious. And so here's where we do vocals, this kind of iso both that's always created in the live room. It's a bigger space. It's usually a pretty large space. And then the iso booth creates this isolation for you to sing. And this is where I do majority of my vocals, although I do my vocals pretty much anywhere. I've done it in closets. I've done it in corners of rooms. You know, we make everything work and anything work. And it really also just depends on the energy and the vibe. So-- and sometimes I also do vocals in the control room. So it really depends. But today, we want to focus on the majority of the time I'm going to cut vocals in this type of space. [GENTLE PIANO MUSIC] So let's talk about how you can produce yourself, because, as a producer, most of the time I'm in a studio alone. You know, it's me and my engineer and longtime music partner Ann Mincieli, who's been with me for-- since the beginning almost. But a lot of times it's just the two of us, and that's how I like it because it's quiet and I can concentrate. I can get things done. I love that I can just be in my own world and be in my own space. And I find that when I have to entertain people, I can't concentrate as well. But I still find that there's something really powerful about being by yourself. It just-- you know, you just have you to depend on, and there's something about exercising that that's really important. So the question is, though, as my own producer, how do I-- or how do you as your own producer-- how does one flip between the creative mind that is wide open, exploring all the possibilities, not held back in any way, and the editing mind that's thinking about, OK, how do I put this together, how do I make this great? Usually what I do is I really step into the booth with an open heart, and I just want to explore anything I hear, anything I hear at all. I go for it. I try it. I try to find it. I listen for it. Mm, man, I hear this crazy ninth harmony over here, this one section. I'm going to try it. Sometimes it's amazing. Sometimes it's like, mm, that's too much. And right away, I know. Like, right away in my spirit, I know. If I love it, I keep it. If I don't love it, I get rid of it. That's just-- I go with what I love always. And so-- and then I allow myself just to play. I play. I really try hard to be free, you know? I really set the environment so that I can be free, that I can try anything I can imagine or think of. I can mess up. I can sound horrible. My voice can crack. I can be off. I can be flat. I can be anything. I am in the moment without feeling...

About the Instructor

With 15 Grammy Awards and more than 40 million albums sold so far, Alicia Keys is one of the world’s most beloved singer-songwriters. Now the legendary artist invites you into her studio to share her process for creating music built from authentic emotion. Breaking down anthems like “Fallin’,” Alicia shows you how she writes lyrics, crafts melodies, and explores sonics so you can discover the music you were born to make.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Alicia Keys

The legendary singer-songwriter and producer shares her approach to making music that resonates and helps you find the power of your unique voice.

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