Feeling the beat

The fast-paced rhythm, dramatic drops and pulsing beats were what drew freshman Rongtian Yue into the realm of composing electronic dance music (EDM).

Yue first began learning how to compose songs off of Youtube and online forums three years ago.

“I saw an outdoor rave. It’s not sweaty people and drugs. It’s people expressing themselves through music. I felt like I wanted to be part of it,” Yue said.

In the 7th grade, he began writing in a Digital Audio Station (DAW) after receiving a trial version of Ableton, a software music sequencer. He eventually switched over to FL12, another music production software, and devoted more time into creating EDM.

All you need is a computer, a $99 keyboard, a DAW, and your imagination, and YouTube.” Yue said. “I write from what I like, not what music theory says.”

Yue creates his music masterpieces with a 20-hour long process. It begins with inputting a melody into a synthesizer, adding drum pads, a chord structure and have each note of the chord played one after another in an arpeggio. Next, he adds extra drum-based beats, synthesizers, a buildup for the drop and a fadeout. After repeating this process for a second drop, then comes sidechaining, equalization, compression and audio mastering to finalize the entire piece.  

“Once I went on a cruise, and I took my laptop and wrote music for half the day. If I [have] a good idea, I have to record it before the idea is lost. You never know when a good idea will pop up,” said Yue.

On his SoundCloud, Yue posts experimental songs and instrumentals. Since the beginning of his part-time career, he has spent more than five thousand dollars on software. His music inspirations include Marshmello, Martin Garrix, Hardwell, Avicii, Skrillex, Afro and AcesToAces.

“My inspirations didn’t do it for the fame. It’s never about the fame. It’s about the love for music,” said Yue. “Music is like a drug, it’s addicting, and it is actually pretty entertaining.”

Yue creates music for a record label as a ghost producer, selling the rights to his music. He earns $50 to $400 per song. He has made 50 songs to date with around 1,400 hours spent creating music.

“As a producer, I’d say I love to mess with the tools, learn new techniques and learn my own style of writing music,” said Yue. “I just try to be unique.”

His contract to his current label will end around April, and he is considering signing to XL Records, which is expanding in the EDM scene. Yue sends his demos to a label’s sites through the A&R, a talent agency, and meets up with other underground EDM artists in the Los Angeles area.

“Signing to the label was fun while it lasted, although I could always get extended. This is a great experience for me, and I plan to continue to raise money for college and my future,” said Yue. “I feel challenged to write music that will fit my expectations.”

Visit his Soundcloud:

By Jeremy Hsiao

Photo courtesy of Rongtian Yue