At six years old, Peter Rycroft was just a kid who liked to play the piano but hated the lesson part of learning to read music. All he wanted to do was make up his own stuff, not realizing that what he was actually doing was songwriting, which eventually laid the foundation for him becoming a songwriter.
Now known professionally as Lostboy (in a nod to the Peter Pan fantasy of never growing up), he’s written and produced music with and for a range of artists and producers, including Bebe Rexha, Ellie Goulding, Lewis Capaldi, Anne-Marie, Little Mix, Dua Lipa, Rita Ora, Zedd, and Fraser T. Smith.
While he loathed those early piano lessons, it’s now enabled him to take a more creative approach to songwriting and producing. And all that is further enhanced by his experience also playing drums in different bands.
“I’m lucky to know music theory to an extent, so I can work something out in a sort of mathematical way,” he says. “But a lot of the time it’s just what feels right… One of the things that a lot of people point out to me now [in my music production] is that the drums are a thing that’s recognizable or noticeable—the patterns. And I think that’s maybe just because I program them like a drummer would play them.”
A lot of people might also be surprised to hear that Lostboy produces all of his music in Pro Tools.
“I’ve always used [Pro Tools], so I kind of feel like that’s what I’m quickest in—it’s like my language. I’ve tried other DAWs and I’ve struggled. In a songwriting environment or a high-pressure studio session, you’ve got to be as quick as you can, and [other DAWs are] just never as good.”
He also feels that people tend to think of Pro Tools as more for recording and mixing instead of a software sequencer for creating beats and music—something he excels at. “The majority of what I [produce] is programmed,” he says. “I think it’s a big misconception that it’s slower or it’s harder in Pro Tools.”
Another thing he appreciates is the speed in which he’s able to explore ideas to keep the vibe going.
“Say we’re in a session and you’re like, ‘I want to do something this tempo,’ and we’re jamming something on the keyboard,” he explains. “I’ll put the chords in and if I know it’s at 120 [bpm] and I’m like, Oh, I swear I started another idea that was like 125, I’ll just [use a Pro Tools shortcut] and import session data from another session and make sure it’s tempo matched. It all snaps to the grid, and I’ve got drums that sound good from something else. I just changed a few things… and it just gets the vibe there quickly. It’s easy to program drums as well, but it’s a quick way of getting started.”
Hear more from Lostboy about how he got started and his experiences working as both a songwriter and producer in our That Sounds Great podcast…