In 2005, Gary Hubbs graduated from the photography program at Emily Carr University. As many other art school alumni do, he hustled for a few years in the arts, culminating in a solo exhibition in 2011 at 221A. Shortly after, creativity took a backseat to other aspects in life.
That’s not the case anymore.
As the pandemic swept the globe leading to a reduction in work for many, Gary took this recently freed up time to explore a different creative outlet. Swapping visual arts for music, Gary has been honing his craft and recording songs all through the use of GarageBand on his iPhone.
“Playing music has been a part of my life since my teens, and I’ve played with the same two high school friends in a three-piece metal band for twenty years,” said Gary. “It’s harder every year to get together. We do try to jam out at least a few times a year, and it’s always fun to play those old songs we created together. When the pandemic hit, it became impossible to get together. I found myself with a lot of extra time and musical ideals.”
Gary quickly realized that he had the technology to pursue music in his pocket.
“I began to explore GarageBand on my iPhone. I had the musical gear I needed through my years of playing in a band,” explained Gary. “Through YouTube tutorials and useful feedback from a community of like-minded individuals on Facebook, I learned the tricks and techniques I would need to realize my vision of these songs.”
All the instrumentals, vocals and arrangements are created by the resourceful alum, who found the allure of working alone all too powerful. “We can all relate I’m sure,” said Gary. “The complications and obligations of life can make it hard to carve out the time for our creative outlets.”
By working alone, Gary has the flexibility to maximize the time that works best for him, even if it’s just five-to-ten-minute blocks.
“The other big reason is flexibility,” said Gary. “It’s really easy to turn the ship around when the executive committee consists of one person. It’s a trade-off of sorts; I give up the second point of view another musician would bring for the freedom and spontaneity that comes from creating alone.”
On a technical level, Gary is just using the iOS version of GarageBand. “It sounds ridiculous, but ultimately I don’t in any way feel like I am compromising sound quality by using my phone as opposed to a more sophisticated Digital Audio Workstation on my Mac,” said Gary. “Although those programs obviously offer more features, they don’t offer the unlimited portability that my phone does.”
Through a small gadget that plugs into the phone called an interface, Gary has the capabilities to plug his guitar, bass or microphone directly into the phone for recording. “I have third-party apps that simulate the sounds of guitar amplifiers and bass amplifiers, so effectively I can rock out almost silently anywhere,” said Gary. “I am completely free of the grid.”
When asked about the genre of metal that Gary has gravitated towards, he shared that metal is the reason he plays guitar to begin with.
“My dad enjoyed classic rock, and my older two brothers listened to the contemporary rock of the day. When I heard metal for the first, it was like a light bulb turned on,” said Gary. “There was so much power, so much ferocity; it just blew me away. That Christmas I asked my parents for an electric guitar and they gave me one. I was fifteen, and still play that same guitar to this day.”
What album turned that lightbulb on? None other than Metallica’s Master of Puppets from 1986.
“Metal music is like a release to me. I’m really an easy-going guy, I like to laugh and I promote peace and love, but any anger or frustration I may have I can channel and release into my music,” said Gary. “In a way, metal is a bit like therapy, a little bit of a workout and it engages my brain. When I play metal music, I come out of my shell a bit, I take on a persona that isn’t quite me, but is based on me with intensity and aggression magnified.”
“In a way, being a metal artist and creating on an iPhone might be easier than if I was recording instruments with more nuances; there aren’t a lot of delicate sounds in my music, I think I’ve arrived at a formula that creates pretty much the exact sound I’m looking for,” said Gary. “I honestly have no idea how this process would work if I was making music with acoustic or orchestral instruments.”
Gary aims to release a new song every six weeks. Down the road, he plans to explore live streaming performances as there is simply no substitute for the adrenaline rush of playing live music. Find Gary’s music on YouTube, Spotify, or Apple Music.