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The Sounds of Cadillac: On the Streets and in Your Ears for 120 Years

Whether it’s Elvis Presley’s famous pink Fleetwood, Chuck Berry’s bright red 1973 Eldorado or Johnny Cash’s legendary custom Coupe DeVille inspired by his 1976 classic, “One Piece at a Time,” the Cadillac has captured the hearts of musicians and embodied the soul of American music for more than a century. In fact, it’s said that 100 pink Cadillacs lined the streets of Detroit in 2018 at Aretha Franklin’s funeral.

Cadillac + Music: A legendary pair

The iconic brand and its many nameplates have been included in more than 11,683 song lyrics through the years. To celebrate its 120th anniversary, Cadillac partnered with Spotify to create the “Cadillac of playlists” to highlight some of these quintessential tunes. They also collaborated with Emmy award-winning rapper Labrinth and Grammy award-winning vocalist Gloria “Goyo” Martinez to promote the all-electric Cadillac LYRIQ, aptly named to honor the brand as a lyrical fixture.

The influence of Cadillac on the music industry is undeniable, but in recent years, musicians have had the chance to return the favor in an unexpected way. Classically trained musicians, audiophiles and sound engineers are transforming the Cadillac driving experience through sound design. They apply music theory to “choreograph” a driver’s interactions with their Cadillac, including creating the sounds given to seat belts, turn signals and doors, but also more encompassing, unique audio elements that make a LYRIQ sound like a LYRIQ, rather than say, an Escalade.

The voice of Cadillac

To pioneer this journey, Cadillac relies on General Motors creative sound director Jay Kapadia. A classically trained musician, electronics engineer and wellness coach, Jay emigrated from Mumbai to New York City in 2008, and he has worked with some of the most iconic names in pop music.

Part of his current responsibilities at GM’s sound lab in Milford, Michigan, include creating Cadillac’s aural sound strategy, and ultimately, enhancing the luxe driving experience through “sonic architecture.”

“As both a musician and an engineer, I am fortunate to combine my passions and work with a broad team of engineers to create the sounds that customers associate with comfort, ease and safety,” says Jay. “Sound plays an important role, as it evokes emotions and becomes a critical component to becoming the voice of the car.”

LYRIQ’s sonic soundscape

The combustion-free EV provides a quietly golden opportunity for sound architects like Jay to not only ensure the safety of EVs on the road, but also to create a unique brand identity with sound. In lieu of a purring engine, there are two exterior speakers on the Cadillac LYRIQ — one in the front and another in the rear, so that it can be heard by passersby in the vicinity of a moving vehicle.

Government regulations require that an EV’s external sounds have a certain decibel range and frequency band, and the pitch of the sounds changes in relation to vehicle speed. Within those parameters, Jay and his team go to work to create an acoustic profile unique to the vehicle.

Jay’s design team comes up with nearly 200 variations for each sound, and then test them until they whittle the list down to a few options to road test. With Cadillac, they wanted something that sounded organic but also futuristic, and a soundtrack that embodied the optimism and boldness of the brand. They then study the vehicle’s design, interior, fabrics and wheels—anything that influences how you experience it.

For the LYRIQ, Jay was inspired by NASA recordings of sounds from the sun, and also, an ancient Australian wind instrument known as a didgeridoo, based around a musical interval known as a perfect fifth.

“It took us 100 years to remove a lot of sounds and noise from the vehicles,” Jay says. "Now, with EVs being silent, we are adding some beautiful frequencies to make this sonic soundscape and give an immersive feel for the customers.”

Classic Cadillacs charmed musicians of days past, but its EVs entice new generations of stars. Mone on Da Beat drew attention when he created the Cadillac LYRIQ Sound Lab on TikTok. Meanwhile, Lenny Kravitz recently discussed with the staff at Vanity Fair the CELESTIQ being hand built by Cadillac that he plans to drive on the streets of Paris. The musical mystique of Cadillac continues to evolve. Experience the 2024 LYRIQ.

Jessica Llanes
By Jessica Llanes, Cadillac Financial

Jessica Llanes is an off-road adventurer, EV enthusiast and bon vivant raised in New Orleans. When she’s not traveling, she enjoys sharing a homecooked meal with friends, curling up with an Agatha Christie novel, or binge-watching classic episodes of Top Gear (or Top Chef).

The Sounds of Cadillac: On the Streets and in Your Ears for 120 Years | Cadillac Car Sound | Cadillac Financial

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