Bedroom pop is a music genre characterized by its distinct lo-fi quality and dreamy and atmospheric sound. If you want a more accurate depiction of what it sounds like, just imagine a grainy indie track from the 90s with laidback vocals and ambient synths.
It has a nostalgic character to it. This alone makes bedroom pop appealing to members of Generation Z who are bopping to its vintage and almost melancholic aesthetic.
But the pure genius behind this often misunderstood genre is its commitment to the DIY ethos. Anyone can make a bedroom pop track, but it takes a great deal of skill to put together something the likes of Clairo and Boy Pablo would produce.
If you want to replicate the iconic bedroom pop sound, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Embrace Vintage
Bedroom pop gets its appeal from the way it is made — using very basic equipment. It’s this simplicity that adds to bedroom pop’s vintage charm. This is also reflected in the preferences of the genre’s most successful artists. Production value is not so much a big deal as creating music that (finally!) shows what nostalgia sounds like.
For this, you can create material that replicates the signature sound of the 80s or 70s. You can get the overall vibe of these time periods mostly from acts like Joy Division, Depeche Mode, and Echo and the Bunnymen. Look along the lines of established names in the new wave and darkwave genres. To add another layer of nostalgia to your material, you can add in background noise such as static and a fuzzy ambient sound that’s reminiscent of old cassette and VHS players. You need to learn as much as you can about how sounds blend with each other to produce unique harmonies, so getting ample ear training should be a good start.
It’s these vintage characteristics that add to the genre’s overall appeal, so in order to create something even close to a bedroom pop track, you need to get plenty of inspiration from the right artists.
2. Create hauntingly beautiful material
The beauty of bedroom pop does not lie in the sound alone. The subject matter most songs in this genre delve into adds another layer on a whole different element. Stories of unrequited love, childhood dreams, and the overall somberness you feel every Sunday afternoon fuel the genre’s eargasmic potency.
If you want to write about these topics or anything remotely mundane and sentimental, start by getting inspiration from your emotional life experiences. For one, Clairo is known to make bittersweet and sentimental tracks that somehow transport you back to high school. You can also take notes from beaba doobee, whose song “coffee” broke into the mainstream.
Then again, it’s not like you should copy the material that other artists made. At the end of the day, you need to practice effective songwriting. Bedroom pop’s allure comes from the personal sentimentality it invokes in the artist as much as it does in people who believe the genre speaks intimately to them.
Just write from the heart and see how your own emotions can shape the narrative in your track.
3. Opt for a laidback sound
Bedroom pop is mostly recognized for its hushed sound. And because it does not require sophisticated equipment to produce (mostly because it draws its essence from low-quality), the genre allows you to make tracks that are near studio quality.
You only need a basic microphone, an acoustic or electric guitar, a drum machine, and a MIDI controller. There are also online resources you can use to find soundfonts that you can mix and match for your track. It’s fairly easy if you are able to find guides and tutorials on YouTube.
As you put together your first track, you can make do with recording electronic drum sound and playing mellow chords using an acoustic or electric guitar. If you want to fuel your track with a more authentic flavor, you can record sounds from everyday life like the sounds of light rain, a busy cafe, or a steady stream.
This genre is all about using whatever resources you have to produce songs that resonate emotionally without having to sound prominent. So, use your environment to your advantage and mix it all up into a sentimental cocktail.
4. Make it natural
What makes bedroom pop a cut above the rest in the indie category is the fact that artists in this genre don’t force themselves to create music. All they ever need to create contemplative tracks are within their reach.
You can really tell the difference when you compare bedroom pop with other genres. You don’t have to follow a formula that clicks with your audience. And while bedroom pop may sound as though it maintains a formula of its own, it still promotes a kind of freedom that many mainstream artists lack.
That being said, just go where your creativity takes you. Draw inspiration from even the most mundane things in your life, from not being able to see your crush at the bus stop to writing a novel during a lazy Sunday afternoon.
At this point, the best piece of advice you could get is to get lost in the moment. And on that note…
5. Have fun!
Bedroom pop, as much as it is a popular genre in the world of indie music, is about embracing creative freedom. That said, you don’t make music simply to please people or get a spot in the limelight. You make music because it allows you to be yourself.
We can say that about other genres down the line, but bedroom pop is a different breed. You make a track because you enjoy every minute of it. You enjoy being able to put together a song that says a lot about certain episodes in your life that are worth revisiting. And you enjoy it because it allows you to become a true artist, one who creates something beautiful out of the ordinary.
Just lose yourself in the music, and everything else will follow along.
From the looks of it, bedroom pop is poised to define this generation’s musical landscape. As music production becomes more accessible, the genre will surely become a source of viral success.
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