SYNTHPOP FUNDAMENTALS: Make retro beats Like Dua Lipa - Music Production Masterclass | Kia Orion | Skillshare

SYNTHPOP FUNDAMENTALS: Make retro beats Like Dua Lipa - Music Production Masterclass

Kia Orion, Artist & Music Producer

SYNTHPOP FUNDAMENTALS: Make retro beats Like Dua Lipa - Music Production Masterclass

Kia Orion, Artist & Music Producer

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8 Lessons (1h 11m)
    • 1. Course Overview

    • 2. Keys & Vocals

    • 3. Drums

    • 4. Bass

    • 5. Melody 2

    • 6. High Strings

    • 7. Mixing & Mastering

    • 8. Arranging The Beat

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About This Class

Want to learn how to make synthpop beats like Dua Lipa?

In this course I'll teach you the fundamentals of music production to make your own retro beats.


-How to design a synthpop beat from start to finish

-How to create melodies for your favorite synthpop type beats

-How to design sounds for retro drums, bass, and synths. 

-How to mix and master a synthpop track with mostly stock plug-ins

-How to create retro bass and recommended instruments to do so

-How to achieve the gritty analogue sound you want without wasting money on expensive gear

-How to make better decisions in terms of sample choice and sound design


Are you curious how artists like Dua Lipa are so popular?

How they’re able to achieve that vintage funk sound?

Do you wish you could make your own beats to vibe, sing, or relax to?

Now you can.

You might be wondering...

How do you get your drums to sound authentic?

How do you achieve that gritty, dusty, analog sound?

Where do you find the right sounds or instruments for this genre?

It took me hundreds of beats to finally figure out what was missing in my production. 

I tried to learn on my own through random youtube tutorials and blogs I read online. 

I spun my wheels for years. 

And after teaching hundreds of students I know now why.

The answer is simple:

We think because the information is out there we can do it ourselves. 

But with the internet sending us new tutorials every other day it leaves us feeling even more confused than when we started. 

There's no clear cut path. 

It took me years of trial-and-error, wasting time trying to learn concepts I thought I needed only to end up months later in the same spot. 

So what’s the alternative?


After being frustrated with how confusing my own journey was learning music production I decided to do something about it...

I created Beat School, an online academy that teaches the foundational elements of music production in a simple and effective way. 

This course on Synthpop music production is one of the beginner programs designed to help students gain an understanding of beat making with a step-by-step approach.

If you are willing to invest in yourself and commit to learning a few hours a week, I have no doubt you’ll be able to achieve your goals with music.

You ready to rock?

You can download all my producer guides, sample kits, and templates here to help you level up and follow along with the course. 

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Kia Orion

Artist & Music Producer


Ay! I'm Kia. 

I'm an artist and educator who believes life wouldn't be the same without music.

Or tacos.

I realized that I was equally as passionate about teaching music as I was making it.

In 2016 I founded Beat School, an online platform and series of educational programs to help aspiring artists and producers learn how to make beats, accelerate their growth, and stay inspired. 

I'm originally from New York but these days you'll find me traveling around the world writing songs or playing beats on a rooftop somewhere.

I appreciate you stopping by, and if you'd like to get in touch you can DM me or shoot me an email at [email protected] 

Life is too short not to do what you lov... See full profile

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1. Course Overview: welcome back to another course. My name is Key O Ryan. I'm the man who is obsessed with dope music and teaching you how to create your own. In this course, we're going to learn how to make beats, like, do a leap up if you don't know who that is, Uh, go look at some iTunes or Spotify charts, and I guarantee she'll be up there. She's a pop singer, and right now she has this really interesting kind of future funk VOD that she's doing kind of similar to the weekend. It's like this kind of eighties retro funk vibe, which I really love, and that's I'm gonna teach you how to make in this course. So we're gonna start with some keys, some vocal chops, and they're gonna teach you how to make a drums kind of those retro drums. And then also retro base how to mix, master and arrange this track. You don't know about me. I've been making music over 10 plus years. I'm an artist and a music producer, and I run beat school online. Um, it's ah, online music production school for people who want to learn how to make beats or make their beats better, Uh, all of the different things that I'll be using in this course if you want Mableton tools. If you want my free master classes sample packs, Trump gets all that. You can get it for free at the producer volt dot com. That's where house all of my materials for. For you can check that out when you get the chance. So if you're ready to learn how to make some future funk vibes with a little bit of a retro tinge, like dual EPA, put aside some time, Grab your average a choice. Buckle up and I'll see you on the inside. Thanks, peace. 2. Keys & Vocals: What is going on? Your your boy key Orion Back in action. The man who is obsessed with creating don't music and teaching you how to do the same. Today's course is going to be on Dua, LIPA. I believe her name is just dropped, and it's like this kind of future funk pop sounding style. So that's what I wanted to Ah, make really is something if you, if you want to make music kind of dual EPA Um, I'm going to start making more beats like this just because if I really like this kind of funk vibe, it's almost like future funk house type of beat. So I found a, um, a sense that I liked and then paired with these vocals. So on this on this album of Dua Lipa, a lot of these are gonna be in the 100 to 1 10 bpm range. A lot of kind of funk influence, a lot of chopped vocals, a lot of retro sounding sense. So let's start with this sent first and I'm 12 and a little bit so I'm going Teoh Ah, a little high and I think later on in my I am converted the harmony to Midi. So I have the cords as well to later down the line I'm going to make my own type of sent but destructive soft, physical sent sound Just making a little bit grainy if you've taken in my stuff. You know, I love the message of vocals So I'm gonna try to make these vocals my own A little bit. Meaning? I'm gonna switch around. All right, so let's do this. Let's Ah, let's take these pieces. So here's what We're gonna dio duplicate this out. We're gonna come with little 08 Bar loop joiner. Actually, you know what we should do? This is what we're gonna dio. This will be going to when I have one. That's maybe, like a little more like intro. We of a more typical key. Ah, a little bit more reverb delayed out. Thank you. A joint. Ah, reverb and delay Intro vocals breakdown. Okay, so those are some breakdown vocals? Let's see. Let's get Let's get Shing's poppin the story. I want this little bit See what we got going on So that's kind of cool to I'm not going about these too much. I mean that some drums going so sample. I'm not gonna worry about making my own sense for it just yet. We're gonna rock with this. Sent. I'm feeling this. I want to roll with the moment. Um, let's circuits, um, drums going and then I'll chop these vocals up to fit with the drums in a second. 3. Drums: when it comes to these kind of like uptempo dance tracks, a lot of times they have some pretty similar elements. Is gonna be some shakers, some cowbells, kind of. You're looking for those retro vibes. This one I'm going Teoh. I found this shaker loop that I had, actually. And I just liked the way that it just like that, Bob. So let's try that, um, we might we might ah, change that around a little bit, but the's dance tracks to You gonna have a kick. That's, um it's even more of a disco. That's what I'm looking for. One more month. Future funk kick something. Israel Thumb P. I think this is gonna probably have a snare on it. So I'm gonna turn that down a little bit because when it has a snoring and you layer those , it gets really loud way Sounds like with a regular shaker loop. You know, when this a bit more conventional. Don't love. That was a different speed. That's that's more my speed I needed. I need a little bit faster pose. All right, let's get some Let's get some disco collapse and snares Oliver Little, 909 Some drum machine type snares. See if you can find that school snare. I like that one. Can't go wrong with the Oliver joints. Those who don't, um, has a new disco joints near there. There's a This is kind of cool. I said, the two OK, all right, so let's bring these old down turn those officer experimenting E 00 I like that one. That's a joint right there. Just a little variety. Let's add a little layer snare on the other way. - E You guys think that cool? I guess you might come back to that a little bit. Um, one key to these dance tracks that I love is kind of a live high hat, Live ish high hat, maybe like a drum. That was cool. Listen, the do the do ah, leap only when our surnames I apologize in advance. Um, there's a lot of acoustic instruments and then some kind of some little mixing with some drum machine. So the key is with ease. You wanting to be off like like a little bit of a body to see what I'm saying? So I think this I think I like this one more the way Everything is very much on the grid. Um, so maybe in a second, what we're gonna do is try to get try to get more of a feel something that so that it feels a little bit more organic. Also going to I just love these J d J Dilla, man, that you got some shakers. All right, so what we're gonna do is I'm gonna let me build this part out first, and then I can always I have more to these later e I love that. I'll be honest. Where's my man? J d s way go may be just the hip hop in me, But most when I'm in Ah, take out the highs in these shakers I think things. If you have something right before the snare, I think this one is that gets it right before the snare. Something in sometimes at a bit of a cool groove. So, um, that's kind of a beginning. Loop for a drum is very simple. For now, Um, I want to add a little bit of base. Maybe some other things give this a little bit more up, so let's jump it. Let's add some base. Maybe something else, Um, kind of a little bit more energy. And, um, I just wanna mess with these vocals to All right, let's do it. 4. Bass: our summer jumping into some base. This is the base that they gave us. That is supposed to have this part of this construction kit. But I really love that base. So we're going to a little bit of sound design, little based action sound design. Um, and with this I like to use, especially with something retro like this. Want to do our many move many v three where you wear a It's gonna really funk it up. Funk, Funk it up. So let's see, um, let's convert this to ah, melody and see what notes they were playing Have a general idea Mrs in e g sharp e d Cool. All right, um, half the time, I don't even know what the right notes are. Just play along and trust me Here, Pick it up. So it's easier to here. - Wait . This is We'll just take the actual notes, um, that they played and stealing. Let's see, we got ah, let me sort this base up a little bit. Let me go. Base facial use. Uh huh. Still sounds like it's Oh, it's because it's this is playing right e I can see why they had such a simple basis because these this I think this since, um, doing those that they're playing not a whole lot goes with a little bit attitude. I'm curious what this notice, but that note would be, but I'm not gonna waste too much time on it. E e e Cool. Something simple for base. At least a placeholder. For now. Maybe we'll change it. Maybe we won't, but I want to keep moving on, so let's get it. 5. Melody 2: all right, So now we're going to jump into is, let's add, um, let's add another cent. Maybe some more chords. Something here that we can, Um, let's see how this sounds. So first I'm gonna do is make sure to turn this off so we have more bandwidth for the video . And then let's see what happens if we Let's take this into our own hands. Let's make this. What do you guys thinking? Yeah, good sense. Let's try, um, profit is Don't let's try ccv kind of way. Let's see what happens if we add this along with these other two. If we can have something that kind of goes along with these other instruments, definitely not that whatever that is, let's go press not live in any of these not living in. He's gonna be honest. Let's try 67 Okay , so that at least works for now. Maybe some chords. Something simple. Um, let's let's add another one more instrument to this before we before we jump into the mixing 6. High Strings: Let's add one more layer on top of this, let's add let's add some vintage strings. That's when I found I really enjoyed that. Dance tracks is some sort of a sustained kind of vintage cheesy strings sound. Where's our Selena? This thing is the king of vintage cheesy strings. Zoom out all right. No, I was gonna keep it. The one that's what we go on do going to keep it. Did the one straying one string sound on Lee Cool stream that way because we can. And it's super easy to do that again if we need Teoh. - Okay , so that works. So I'm going to, um, keep these bass notes, uh, based on notes. Actually, it's beat the in A and then makes this down base Print this. I shouldn't see if we can figure out that note is real quick Before we do that real quick. Before we do that, that's it. One more time. Let's give us another shot that works for me. Not perfect. But when it works, it works. When it works, it works with freeze it Latinate Well based hail there. It's gonna wanna clicks. We're gonna feed that out a little bit, Um, cool. And so we got kind of some vocals are ensure vocals that will come back to later vocals that we didn't use. Their, um, let's and accords strings sweet. So let's let's dependence, Let's mix it And then you can decide maybe what we want to do with some of these vocals or trying to side If we need todo This makes it. I think it. I think this needs to be mixed. I think I need some energy in the mix. 7. Mixing & Mastering: all right. So before he makes this, let's print thes. Um uh, Keys. Turn off the effects because I don't want to. I don't like to print a lot of effects into my tracks because I like to have a bit more control of them as I'm mixing up. So we're gonna freeze that. We're gonna flatten that cool. And now Ah, ad. And you could way back to this at Notre Filter. Ah, a little bit of river, I think. Cool. That sounds about right to me. So let's mix this. He's up in here. Everything down. What's is this? Which one of these snares the Echo snare? Oh, that's not a sneer we need. And we're going to go with this second shaker loop. I rented vocals, vocals already turned off keys You don't need entering the strings down Sweet are so the kick especially instruct your kids under stairs Gonna be some of the most important Mr. Driving this the heart of your track. People don't really care what you're saying. Just wanna hit the hip pick and sing along to and ah, um I want to shake that booty. I'm gonna bring my kicking around seven lets you haven't We had some soft clipping of this guy. There's about stuff clipping as you can pushed the volume of without necessarily some of that punch unnecessarily. I'm gonna go into your master channel. I might actually can. Now, let's see how it goes with this base. I might want to. I might come back to this base and redo it and pitch it down a little bit. But we'll see at this scientist and compression to a lot of instruments on this. I have a feeling tha the's still early. I'm gonna make some of these vocals little bit more because you have some things kind of pumping whips back up, back up, back up, - everybody . Also, that you can mix depends how you do it. Sometimes you can just, like bring this up until it feels right, or you can blast it and then bring it down until it feels right. So something like to do that to sound what it would sound like all the way turned up, and they kind of bring it back into the mix after way. Those high strings wade actually, just like these class on the way, way bring our drums off just us latest bit CNN's. We just push him a little bit. - Ah , a brief limiter. Bring the substantive sounds like with the volume compressed a bit. - Sounds like with high. If I push the base down a little bit, - works for me. So that's kind of a brief mix. Let's arrange this. 8. Arranging The Beat: I'm going to keep the, um arrangement pretty simple on this one. We're going to, um, duplicated out so that we have a backup. If we need it. Three minutes, we're gonna be a short dance track. A bit of intro drop into a hook. Um, and then I'm thinking that we have a breakdown. Come back to hook and call today. Let's do this like that. Actually, - actually this over and do, like this way to drop into the hook. I lied. I didn't mean it. Don't shoot the messenger. - Cool . All right, so that's when we would bring in our riser school riser. Transitions. Where you at? A Let's see if this head boy rise. It works no different. No different key. Sorry, head boy. You demand? No, no, you demand. No. All right, wait. Drop. So the first, the first impact is going to be Ah, simple One clap packed impact clap and then a clap back later down. So first things first, we don't add our kick. Be not gonna user base yet. Ah, let's get our sent back. Way. - Way Bringing more percussion. That could be cool. Outro when we get there, feels a little bit. I think the drums Maybe a little bit too delayed. I think maybe I dragged off too much, but let's see. Oh, dance tracks. You just switch up. You just switch the arrangement a lot. - This'll way, - way . Theo. Let's leave that for later. That's actually kind of a cool part. We're just those parts there. And then this time this hook is gonna have whoops. We haven't even built our hook out yet. Man, I'm tripping. All right, so a few people waiting too long for the hook, right? You want to get that in a minute? 20 actually. Let's Let's do this. Let's do this. Let's do this. Keys Were my keys at a Were my keys at OK, ok, OK, OK. Make sure Everything. Way, - Way . Let's bring this first back way. Are these interest so close? Back again? Way. Maybe we'll bring that. I think Cool . Maybe a little breath. Little thing. Step slap. That's how you get a little dance beat. Ah, get it Cracking Little future funk action. Hope that that was fun. Hope that made sense. I'll check in on the next one piece