Making Recording More Accessible: Lachi's Home Studio is Where the Heart is
As a blind singer, songwriter and producer, LACHI is working to improve diversity and accessibility in the music industry. This is her story.
Hi. I’m Lachi. She/Her. Black with cornrows. I am a recording artist, songwriter and vocal producer who proudly identifies as blind, dedicating my life and career to amplifying disability culture and advocating for intersectional representation in the music industry.
I was eating an eel avocado roll at my favorite sushi spot when the news came in March 2020 via retweet that the world would be shutting down indefinitely. Little did know then that Home Studio is truly where the Heart is.
As an EDM topliner knee-deep in the dance music ecosystem, my first thought was, “Well, crap” followed by a “Well, when things open back up by summer and fall, EDC and ADE will flood dollars and “sense” back into the industry. However, even by April 2020, it was clear this was going to be a long-game, and those of us with disadvantages in the industry (due to gender, race, disability and other identities) were going to have to get very creative very fast in order to continue creating, let alone sustaining a recording career.
Pre-pandemic, I was the Consistency Release Queen – as all writer/producers attuned to streaming algorithm know one has to be – renting out midtown and downtown New York City studios, ordering late night pizzas and bodega beers, releasing tracks monthly on major imprints. With so much work coming in, and with vocalist and writer clients looking for more in-depth sessions, I took to developing my home studio to work in conjunction with my in-person sessions, making me an unstoppable demo Queen.
After my larger-than-life manager, Gary Salzman, passed away in 2020 due to the coronavirus (RIP), I realized as a blind female artist and topline writer, I’d quickly have to reassess my situation.
Would I finally become that doctor or school teacher my parents always wanted? Well…yes, in a way. I decided to dedicate my newfound freetime to teaching myself how to doctor vocals – to the same high standard – completely from home. From upping my mic and preamp setup to fit my sounds, to deconstructing Pro Tools into a symphony of pre-sets, templates, shortcuts and automations. Using assistive technologies like screen magnifiers, screen readers, and speech to text, along with rewiring my room to an intuitive layout best suited for listening back, I jiggered my home setup to be navigable and accessible to fit my needs.
It wasn’t long until I was up and running. With clients and collaborators flying me stems via the internet and holding online ideation sessions, I was writing, toplining and vocal producing at more than twice the speed I’d used to. And I came to find, many artist and writer colleagues – for various reasons – were unable to output at the same level.
I’ve been told many a time: “It’s incredible that you can record and produce vocals from home as a blind artist.” But what’s really incredible is how I was able to get anything done at all before creating my own accessible and accommodating setup. No more tripping over a booth step, getting lost in endless where’s-the-bathroom mazes, and best of all, no more having to ask a sighted person for help. And even better, getting acquainted with the ins and outs of a proper studio – having worked so hard on mine – I am able to better navigate an outside industry studio and set expectations for my mise en place.
The recording industry was not exactly built for people of color, people with disabilities, and female-identifying artists and producers. So I’ve found, while some truly amazing organizations are blossoming to advocate for more representation – such as She Is The Music, SheSaid.So, RAMPD.org and Women In Music – it’s still up to me to hone my craft and amp up my focus in order to be competitive with my peers. However, keeping my bills paid while trying to transition to a fully home situation was a luxury not all female producers or creators of color had. Being able to make my studio accessible to accommodate my blindness was a luxury not all producers with disabilities have.
As in-person studios open up, it is imperative to be intentional about accessibility – access to entering, using the restroom and navigating the space. It is important to be intentional in considering intersectionalized staff and talent. And it’s paramount to be mindful that those intersectioned people have a vast story beyond what they show.
To conclude, this is all to say a proper studio isn’t the one with the most gear, the fanciest furniture or the most gold record plaques on the wall. It’s the one where you as a creator feel most comfortable, are most confident, and where your energy, drive and sound are most elevated. Whether it’s within your home or not, it’s your creative sanctuary.
Lachi is set to record her first EP in her home studio later this year - stay tuned for more from Lachi soon!
Follow Lachi on Instagram: @lachimusic