What did you learn as part of the digital recording program?
Aside from a week of guitar lessons when I was eight, my musical experiences and training have all been at Meadowridge. About two years ago, I started recording cover songs using GarageBand for fun, but none of those were really good and I never thought myself capable of actually producing music – let alone four songs and the song of the year! When Mr. Noble told us that we would be focusing on producing music this year, I genuinely thought I would fail. But the digital music program is forgiving, and I took it step by step. The DAW (digital audio workstation) we used was Logic Pro X, which is a professional application used by many famous producers. Logic is highly versatile, but the learning curve is steep. My entire class was trying to figure it out together. It took me all year to understand, and I still struggle sometimes. Mr. Noble, however, is highly knowledge and helped us to learn. Learning how to mix music is a massive step towards becoming a better music producer.
What has been your favourite parts of the program so far? The most challenging?
A small group of students from my music class and I decided to put Kaleidoscope Volume I on Spotify, Apple Music, and other streaming platforms. That process was honestly so fun. I was hesitant at first because I didn’t know if people would like my songs, but we all decided that we worked too hard for our music not to be published somewhere. We’re all proud of what we’ve done. Another part of the program I loved was listening to my friends’ songs for the first time and just being completely blown away by their talent. Specifically, listening to “Someone Else” and “Drown” for the first time. I was genuinely smiling so hard that my face hurt.
The most challenging part for me was deciding when a song was finished. I think it goes for most of us in class when I say that it feels like there is so much more to be added or improved sometimes. I remember when I finished my first version of “Embrace,” Mr. Noble told me something that stuck: “Producing is a long process, and a song – especially since we are amateurs – will never really be finished.”
When we listen to “Darling” what are we listening to that you’ve created or wrote? Walk us through it.
I really enjoy songwriting; I have been doing it for a few years now and started because I love writing generally, but writing an entire story is too much of a commitment, which is why I’ve always preferred songwriting. “Darling” is my small group song, and I explicitly remember sitting down for the first time to write it and thinking I just wanted to capture a feeling – if that makes any sense – I really wanted to write something about nostalgia. So, the concept of “Darling” is that these two people share one good memory of “orange peels and sunkissed cheeks” and while everything else may not be ideal, they hang on to this one good memory and stay ignorant of the mistreatment they have put each other through.
The product itself really isn’t complicated; I did it all at home on my laptop using Logic. I played one main guitar part of my acoustic guitar, and the rest is done on a small MIDI controller I bought a year ago just to mess around. My favourite part of the production was adding the adlibs, harmonies, and backing vocals in the middle and end of the song. I love recording the harmonies of my songs because I’m not skilled with adding instruments; so, instead, I add vocals to fill up the music and make it feel complete. This is a satisfying thing to do.
How long did the song take from start to finish?
I wrote the song in probably less than an hour. I find that if I figure out a chord progression, I can usually pair it with a fun concept and the songwriting process goes really fast from there. I never plan any of my songs; I just play chords on my guitar and sing what comes to mind, write it down, and edit as I go. Which I finished a significant chunk of a song, I record it in my voice memos app – which currently holds 230 different voice memos! – so that I don’t forget how the song goes. After I wrote “Darling” I took it to my groupmates and they liked it, we started talking about production. It took us a while to figure out how to produce this song, and it ended up taking me around eight hours from start to finish for the first version of the song. Unlike the rest of my songs, the first version of “Darling” was good enough that I didn’t have to rerecord vocals or redo any production aspects. Meaning, the “Darling” that people hear from Spotify or Apple Music is the same version where I sat at my desk and sang at the top of my lungs, played obnoxious guitar, and completely disturbed my sister who was studying for exams. Ironically, although “Darling” was the first song I technically finished, it was also the last song that I finalized to go on Kaleidoscope Volume I. So even though I didn’t need to rerecord anything, I spent around three classes mixing the levels and adding effects. Overall, creating “Darling” was an eleven-hour process, spread vey far apart throughout the year.
What role does music play in your life?
Listening to music, playing music and writing music are things that make me really happy. On school days, I’m in the car for an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon, and I spend every minute of those two hours listening to music. I have 15 playlists of different songs I listen to – to me, there is no greater joy than listening to a song for the first time and instantly falling in love with it (and then listening to it on loop until you’re sick of it).
Songwriting is such a fantastic outlet no matter how I’m feeling, but especially so when I’m sad; bringing out the minor chords and writing a sad song is quite therapeutic (my song “Embrace” is an excellent example of that). I love watching videos of famous artists writing their songs and seeing how they come up with ideas because I find it so fascinating how a hit song can come from something as simple as a lightbulb flickering or a sentence that a friend says ten years prior.
What’s next – will you be creating more music?
I'm thrilled that the digital music program launched this year because it will give so many more opportunities to students who don't think they have what it takes to produce music to do something cool and fun in their last years of the MYP. It's unfortunate that I only got to experience the digital music program for a year because it was so fun, even though we were stressed at times with deadlines and bad verses and missing files. However, Mr. Noble has told my class that if we want, we can go into the music room and make our own EPs (an album no longer than 30 minutes) while we're in the DP. Moreover, producing music will definitely be a lifelong hobby, and I've already begun working on songs for an EP I want to take Mr. Noble up on his offer of and I'm thrilled that the digital music program has really launched this year because it will give so many more opportunities to students who don't think they have what it takes to produce music to do something cool and fun in their last years of MYP. It's honestly unfortunate that I only got to experience the digital music program for a year because it was so fun, even though we were stressed at times with deadlines and bad verses and missing files. However, Mr Noble has told my class that if we want, we can go into the music room and make our own EPs (an album no longer than 30 minutes) while we're in DP. Moreover, producing music will definitely be a lifelong hobby, and I've already begun working on songs for an EP I want to record in DP.