TRAKGIRL during a photo shoot for Addidas original. (Credit: TRAKGIRL’s website)

TRAKGIRL Uses Her iPhone Voice Notes To Record Melodies for Songs

An examination of the DMV producer’s methodical music-making process, early album placements, and recent ventures to empower women in the industry.

Gino Sorcinelli
Feb 15 · 5 min read

Growing up in a house full of talented musicians and performers, producer and entrepreneur TRAKGIRL decided she wanted to take her family’s creative skills in a new direction from an early age. “Most of my family is musically inclined,” she told The Source in a 2015 interview. “I have brothers who sing, play instruments, etc. My mom played several instruments classically. But I wanted to do something different.”

A video of TRAKGIRL breaking down Omarion’s “Ode To Tae”.

TRAKGIRL started her journey down the road less traveled at age 14 when she purchased a red Gateway computer and started making beats with an Akai MPD16. Influenced by musicians and producers like Prince, Quincy Jones, Timbaland, Missy Elliot, and The Neptunes, she spent the rest of high school studying the greats and honing her craft.

When she started attending Hampton University four years after buying her first beat machine, TRAKGIRL found that social networks available to her in college could help advance her career to a new level. “I made friends with other music heads like me,” she told The Source. “I’m so thankful for because they helped me along my journey.” By the time she was sophomore, she’d already landed a placement with Omarion.

“There’s always melodies in my head.”

Now that TRAKGIRL is a known entity in the music industry with credits for Jhene Aiko, Luke James, and Mansions on the Moons, she points to the importance of experiencing the world outside the studio so that she can maintain her creative energy inside of it. “Experiences throughout life are how I gain inspiration with my music,” she told Forbes in a 2018 interview. “You have to live life.”

The TRAKGIRL episode of BET’s ‘Beaty & The Beats.’

Further emphasizing the point in a 2018 episode of BET’s Beauty & The Beats series she said, “I can’t create if I don’t go through something.”

Once she internalizes the necessary inspiration to make a beat, TRAKGIRL says she often hears the music in her mind before she captures it with her computer. “There’s always melodies in my head,” she told BET. “I use my iPhone a lot to record voice notes of me singing and I’ll go back to it. I try to get out my ideas every day and then I just take it to the studio and build it out.”

“I don’t run with my music. So some days I’ll focus on the chords, the next day I’ll focus on the bass line, or other days I’ll focus on the drums.

Often starting with melody as the primary building block, TRAKGIRL meticulously works out a full version of her initial vision from there. “I typically start with a melody with a sound that moves me,” she told Forbes. “I start with the chords then continue to work on the arrangement of the record.”

TRAKGIRL’s interview with Syd (The Internet) as part of The 7% Series.

Though every producer has a unique workflow and some can crank out multiple beats a day, TRAKGIRL prefers to go at her own pace and not rush the process. Sometimes that means dedicating an entire day to one aspect of the track so that she can find the perfect balance of sound. “I don’t run with my music,” she told Forbes “So some days I’ll focus on the chords, the next day I’ll focus on the bass line, or other days I’ll focus on the drums. This process is just for one record. It’s all about quality over quantity.”

As she continues to develop her production chops and master her technique, TRAKGIRL is also branching out in several other areas. 2018 saw her partner with Stem to create The 7% Series panel in Los Angeles, which was designed “to highlight inspiring female songwriters, producers, engineers, artists & executives.”

“I use my iPhone a lot to record voice notes of me singing and I’ll go back to it. I try to get out my ideas every day and then I just take it to the studio and build it out.”

Featuring an in-depth conversation between TRAKGIRL, Madame Gandhi, Qveen Herby, and Tiffany Kumar, The 7% Series panel discussed various ways to give women in the music industry equal access to opportunities and left the crowd inspired by their talk. This kind of increased collaboration, connection, and discussion amongst talented women is something she hopes to build upon in the coming years. “I really want to increase visibility and create opportunities because we as women are out here,” TRAKGIRL told Stem in a 2018 follow-up interview. “We are talented and qualified. We have to continue the conversation and help each other.”

TRAKGIRL’s 2017 interview with Red Bull Radio in NYC.

TRAKGIRL’s ambitious vision of the future doesn’t stop there — she also recently started Pay Us Today, a collective that wants to ensure that creatives and musicians in the industry are fairly paid for their work. And based on recent interviews, it sounds like she’s using her musical talents to take her far outside the realm of mere album placements. “Music is always the vehicle of my dreams,” she told Forbes. “I would love to score and compose for FILM/TV. I’m currently composing music for some amazing projects with some amazing brands.”

Wherever TRAKGIRL’s combined endeavors take her from here, music looks to remain a central focus. Based on her impressive resume thus far, her passion for studying the craft, collaborating, and sharing information will likely bring further success in the future.

Connect with TRAKGIRL on Facebook, Instagram, SoundCloud, her website, and on Twitter @TRAKGIRL.

If you enjoyed this piece, please consider following my Micro-Chop and Bookshelf Beats publications or donating to the Micro-Chop Patreon page. You can also read my work at HipHopDX or follow me on Twitter.

Micro-Chop

Dissecting beatmaking, DJing, rapping, and sampling.

Gino Sorcinelli

Written by

Freelance journalist @Ableton, ‏@HipHopDX, @okayplayer, @Passionweiss, @RBMA, @ughhdotcom + @wearestillcrew. Creator of www.Micro-Chop.com and @bookshelfbeats.

Micro-Chop

Dissecting beatmaking, DJing, rapping, and sampling.