Beijing’s beat benders.

Soaring vocals and thunderous power chords, driven by a synth-heavy beat. Anything goes when it’s a song by Yaoband, a group founded on a shared vision of musical experimentation.

Long before they played together, Luke Wang and Peter Feng produced tracks for some of China’s biggest artists. While professionally successful, they felt their creative vision was stifled. “We wanted to bring a new kind of music to Chinese music fans,” says Luke Wang. So they formed Yaoband to explore this new sound.

Inspired by the pulse of life in modern China, they started by capturing audio samples with iPad and turning them into progressive beats. Nothing was sacred as they flowed in and out of musical genres, mixing electronica with rock, rap and traditional Chinese songs. “We were just like scientists in a lab, trying many formulas,” says Peter. “Every single song was a surprise, because it was always better than I imagined.”

Sampling their surroundings.

Luke Wang uses iPad to capture everyday sounds and transform them into infectious rhythms.

With iPad, I can take anything around me, record a sample, re-form it and make it part of my music.

Luke Wang, DJ and producer, Yaoband

Bringing their sound to life.

We inspire each other with our ideas. It’s like a chemical reaction.

Peter Feng, vocalist and producer, Yaoband

No longer tied to the studio, Yaoband uses the power of iPad to freely explore new ideas whenever inspiration strikes.

Once they have a solid beat, Peter and Luke Wang jam iPad to iPad in free-form sessions. Peter uses the Music Studio app to lay down the melody and try different instrumentations, which can in turn influence Luke Wang’s sound. With a tight demo in hand, they bring in the other band members to contribute their parts, balancing electronica with traditional rock guitar, bass and drums. As the final touch, rapper Mr How uses Notes to jot down lyrics.

Meet the band.

  • Luke Wang, DJ and producer 王璐
  • Peter Feng, vocalist and producer 冯宣元
  • Mr How, vocalist 张敬豪
  • Diao Lei, drums 刁磊
  • Yu Chi Chun Xiao, guitar 尉迟春晓
  • Jah Yang, bass 黄继扬

When it’s time to record, Luke Wang uses the TouchOSC app on iPad as a virtual controller for his MacBook Pro. His customised layout runs playback of the guide track and provides faders and rotary dials for mixing and manipulating sounds as the song takes shape.

While recording vocal takes, Peter uses Logic Remote on his iPad Air to control Logic Pro X on a Mac, allowing him to adjust levels and effects without an engineer. “I can sit in the sound booth and operate my computer in another room, allowing me to record my vocals myself,” he says. “This was impossible before.”

Taking the studio on the road.

Yaoband tours constantly, using iPad to work on new songs wherever they go.

Live and loud in China.

When we play live, iPad is the master program for the whole performance. Really, it’s the lead instrument.

Luke Wang

When Yaoband takes the stage, its energy is contagious. And iPad powers the beats, loops and melodies that bring the sound to life.

“For me, the most significant role iPad plays is onstage,” says Luke Wang. “Before, I was chained to my DJ station and could only give a simple performance.” With his iPad wirelessly connected to his gear, he can move around the stage or go out into the audience and spontaneously adjust his set based on the crowd’s reaction.

Luke Wang can even shape his sound by moving his iPad. “People thought the iPad accelerometer was only for navigation. Now I can use it to control my music’s direction,” he says. “It’s totally different creating variations during live shows with body movements instead of turning dials.”

With iPad, Luke Wang has the power to make every show unique. “I’ll add new apps, new techniques and new ideas during the show,” he says. By adding fresh elements to the music, even in a live performance, Yaoband lives up to its vision of an ever-evolving sound. “Creativity and innovation are the essence of music,” says Peter. “For us they’re what keep the power of music alive.”

Connecting with the crowd.

iPad is like a member of the band. It gives DJ Luke Wang the freedom to go out into the audience and create different sets for each performance.

We use music to translate our emotions, our thinking and our lives to the audience. It’s the reason we chose to be musicians.

Peter Feng