In the surge of rappers engaging in music-sharing platforms, Student and alumni music producers have entered the scene singing, writing, and inspiring as they pursue their love of music.
“Right now, [SoundCloud] is where popular music is. I might have more enjoyment writing jazz; it is all a compromise between what people like and what I like to do myself as an artist,” Jacob Shaw (9) said.
Shaw has been surrounded by music ever since he was a kid, and therefore naturally was drawn to it, while Kyle Gaillard (12) entered the music world in ninth grade, going to the studio with upperclassmen, and watching them work.
Music production can often be a long and tedious process filled with retakes and editing. “It could take anywhere from up to a day to multiple weeks to produce a song, and it depends on the song. Sometimes, I can get it right on the first take and other times, it will take 20 or thirty takes,” Dylan O’Reilly (9) who raps under the stage name Kidd Danger, said.
While long, to many students the process is a rewarding experience that allows them to expand their musical abilities. “After about a month, I made a song, and over time I got better,” Gaillard said.
Each artist has a unique creative approach to music production. “Usually I’ll start with a beat and then I’ll add lyrics that I either have already written or just fit them to the beat after,” O’Reilly (9.
On the other hand, Shaw’s ideas can come from anywhere. “I am always getting ideas, and probably one percent of the ideas that I have I actually can write down since I am getting ideas everywhere like in the shower, or on my way to school,” Shaw said.
Similarly, Gaillard’s creative process comes in sporadic waves. “As soon as something comes to mind, I write it down to make a note of it so I can come back to it later,” he said. “It probably takes me 20-30 minutes to write a song, and I’ll either record it here or at a studio,” Gaillard said.
Making music by themselves can sometimes be a challenge for the musicians, as there are many possible technical mistakes that can be made, so O’Reilly usually goes to Doug Epstein, Music Department Chair, for help.
Epstein denies being a large presence in the content production of these artists’ music. “I haven’t actually had a hand in a lot of that besides teaching them how to fish. They’re making up their own stuff,” Epstein said.
“Mr. Epstein is a huge help with technical details and music theory stuff that I should know to perfect what I have actually been trying to work on,” Galliard said.
For the style of each song, Shaw enjoys incorporating jazz and classical music into rap songs.
“I was classically trained, so I like being able to apply music theory to the modern context,” Shaw said.
Ethan Matt ‘18, a student studying music at Michigan, is trying to develop more of his own sound by refraining from diverting his style from popular music.
Moreover, Matt strongly values collaboration in music production. “I am super passionate and it is super fulfilling to make songs together with other people,” Matt said.
“I know how to make a mainstream hip-hop beat, but the challenge is that people have heard that before. More recently I’ve learned to combine styles, Matt said.
Gaillard writes to be an inspiration for others, with a message for kids to shoot for the stars, while Matt instead writes without an audience in mind. Both, however, have amassed a large audience; Matt and Gaillard have thousands of listens to their songs, Digital Love and Girl from Japan, respectively, and Galliard’s song Legends has over 23 thousand plays on SoundCloud.
“I don’t write songs to evoke an emotion. I don’t write things for other people. I’m just trying to express myself or tell a story,” said Matt.