Fifteen years ago, Apple mastermind Steve Jobs — with the help of singer-songwriter John Mayer — launched GarageBand, a free piece of software available on all Mac computers (and eventually on iPhones and iPads), which aimed to simplify the music-making process.
The purpose of GarageBand was to create beats in a streamlined and user-friendly way, providing a perfect low-cost set-up for anyone who wanted to break into the music industry. But it quickly became a tool for both beginners and established artists.
“Looking back on it, I believe this was a kind of altruism on Steve’s part, offering the app for free on Apple devices and eventually for all,” wrote Mayer in an Instagram post in January, marking the 15-year milestone.
This month, the Apple Store in Dubai Mall is holding workshops to guide people through making their own beats on the programme; they even have one session for kids to create their own theme songs.
Ahead of the hands-on lessons, we take a look back on four hit songs that started out on GarageBand.
Rihanna — Umbrella
Arguably the biggest song to ever get its start on GarageBand (that we know of…) is Rihanna’s smash hit ‘Umbrella’. Producer Christopher ‘Tricky’ Stewart stumbled upon the music-making app and found a “walloping hi-hat sound,” which caught the attention of fellow producer Terius ‘The Dream’ Nash. Fans later discovered that the GarageBand drum loop that the song utilises is called “Vintage Funk Kit 03”. The chart-topping track — originally written for Britney Spears but rejected by her label — won Rihanna and Jay Z a Grammy Award after its 2007 release.
Fall Out Boy — Thnks fr th Mmrs
According to Rolling Stone, Fall Out Boy singer Patrick Stump lost his cool when he finished the rough sketch of a song for the band’s second album, only to have his system crash and kill his work. That’s when he discovered GarageBand, and he “just started recording, without having to learn a new programme, which was always one of the scariest things about music,” said Stump. On 2007’s ‘Thnks Fr Th Mmmrs’, the band even re-recorded the intro section with real strings and horns, before deciding they liked the app’s virtual instruments more.
Radiohead — Nude
In 2008, English rock band Radiohead took matters a step further when they re-released a stripped-down version of ‘Nude’, a track from their ‘In Rainbows’ album, so that their fans could try their hand at remixing it on GarageBand. People could upload their creations to a dedicated website, now defunct, where listeners would have one month to vote for their favourite remix.
Kendrick Lamar — Pride
While many people will use GarageBand on their computers or tablets, one of Kendrick Lamar’s producers, Steve Lacy, built the beat for ‘Pride’ — a track from Lamar’s critically acclaimed album ‘Damn.’ (2017) — on his mobile phone. This was after studio equipment had stopped working. The demo, created with singer-songwriter Anna Wise, was originally titled Wasn’t There before being renamed to Pride.
Don’t miss it!
Sign up for the below sessions online. They take place at various timings throughout the month.
Music Skills: Getting Started with GarageBand — April 16 — May 1
Music Skills: Drum Patterns with GarageBand — April 16 — May 2
Music Walk: Creating Soundscapes with Garage Band — April 18 — April 30
Music Lab for Kids: Making a Theme Song — April 16 — May 3