All my music can be downloaded for free on Bandcamp.

I started making music when I got my first laptop at 14 (thanks grandpa!). I've been exploring the possibilities of electronic music ever since. I've always been fascinated by sound, with an inexplicable need for music. It's not about money; music is a very difficult and unlikely way to make money. If I do, then it's an added bonus. The real reward is fulfillment, having created something with the little time I have in this life.

A beautiful thing about our modern world is that anyone with a computer can make music, with no need to invest in additional equipment, software, or take the time to learn to play an instrument. A little free software and understanding of music theory can take you far; your creativity is much more important than your tools.


There are many digital audio workstations available. For the most part, you get what you pay for, but a beginner doesn't need all the bells and whistles of high-end DAWs; in fact, that can be confusing and distracting when you're just learning the basics. A few good free options worth trying first are LMMS & Ardour* (desktop), and Audiotool & Soundtrap (web).

*Ardour offers the source code for free; to download an installer for the newest version requires a name-your-price donation. Ardour is tailored toward recording, not MIDI, so LMMS is the way to go if you want to create electronic music rather than record physical instruments.

After some experimenting, I've settled on LMMS. Compared to paid DAWs, LMMS is primitive. It has all the essentials, but lacks features, has more bugs, and development is slow. Despite all this, I'm in love with it; its simplicity keeps me focused, and I've become comfortable and famliliar with its GUI, even if some parts feel clunky. It makes up for that with its flexibility, with windows you can resize and arrange to your liking.

I didn't have much trouble finding software, samples, and VST plugins to make music with. I soon ran into a bigger challenge: creativity. There's something daunting about facing an empty canvas. The possibilities are virtually limitless; all that lies between your imagination and your speakers is your understanding of the software, and your ability to focus your creativity. This often creates a feeling of not knowing where to start.

The process of becoming familiar with your software of choice imposes limitations on what you can do, which can help creativity flow and bring forth some really cool music relatively easily.

Once you're familiar and fluent with your tools, it's up to you to constantly try new things, new approaches, new perspectives, to experiment with different styles, different sounds, and self-imposed limitations in order to stay inspired and keep ideas flowing.

If you try too hard for a certain outcome, you will find it very difficult to achieve. I've discovered that nearly all my best work has been the result of happy accidents. There is no one best formula. Variety, an open mind, and adventure are what keep art fresh and spark creativity.

Start off with a simple idea, or even just browse through samples or tweaking knobs on a virtual instrument and see what you find. Occasionally you'll find something you want to take a step further. Follow the ideas, expand upon a strong foundation, even if it takes you somewhere you didn't plan or expect to end up. You'll be much happier than if you were to force yourself to write in a certain style, and end up with an uninspired jumble of sounds that you don't even want to listen to.

5 years in, and I've only just begun. I'm still figuring all this out. Remember, you don't need experience to strike gold. Experience just helps you sound better, more consistently. I look back on a few of my very first songs and wonder how the hell I wrote that. I look back on other old songs and just as many of my newer songs, and wonder why I even bothered publishing them. Time changes your perception of music, and something that sounds good or bad might sound the opposite after a few days, or weeks, or years.

It is what it is; just keep moving forward, keep trying new things, and you'll inevitably improve. Enjoy the ride.

- Jake Duncan (millicow), 2019

My main project right now is millicow. My side project is Great In Box.