Montreal musician records and produces entire album on his iPhone

Jon Cohen described the process as labour intensive, but creatively challenging.

Jon Cohen describes the process as labour intensive, but creatively challenging

Jon Cohen released his seventh studio album Lorem Ipsum earlier in December. The Montreal musician recorded and produced it on his iPhone, which was no easy feat. (Jon Cohen)

Jon Cohen, a Montreal musician who performs as The Jon Cohen Experimental, has been putting out albums since 2008. For his seventh album, released Dec. 11, he decided to try something… well, experimental.

"I thought, 'Hey, why don't I make an album just using my iPhone?" he said.

Cohen was inspired by American producer Steve Lacy who used his iPhone to produce tracks for rapper Kendrick Lamar.

Always attracted to new and unusual approaches, Cohen decided to try to record an entire album that way.

There was a steep learning curve, Cohen said, as he had no background in producing electronic music.

He downloaded some apps to start fiddling with, but soon shelved the project in favour of performing live shows and touring.

"Then the pandemic happened," he said. "All of a sudden there was nothing to do."

Unable to perform or record with bandmates in a studio, Cohen picked up his ambitious project once again.

He describes the process of making Lorem Ipsum as labour intensive and, at times, tedious.

"I was on my phone for six months straight. More than anyone has ever been on their phone," he said.

Slowly he became comfortable with the phone's editing options, which were limited and required careful movements.

He said the process changed his approach to songwriting, forcing him to write in small chunks, record and then add progressions to the mix.

"I was composing little blocks of music, almost like Tetris," he said.

He said the sound quality of the iPhone's mic was good, but he felt the need to add some effects to make the final product sound less "sterile" and canned.

One advantage is that the apps available for mobile editing are relatively cheap and allow musicians to work from anywhere.

"It's kind of the future in a way," said Cohen.