In the past few years, the number of student musicians producing music outside of school has been on the rise. Either that or increased awareness of the music projects are brought to public light through the use of social media. The musicians listed in no particular order have advanced their musical interests through various platforms and to varying extents, but they have all made their presence known through social media, many through Instagram. Their tech savviness is also projected into the way they produce and brand their music and allow them to become like professional musicians while also being students. These students show that with passion and drive high school students can acquire the skills necessary to build platforms to connect with their fan bases. Many of these students intend on being lifelong musicians whether that be as a hobby or as a career, and their youthful optimism and determination bring a refreshing air to the musical community and culture at North. Their creations are a reminder of why the arts so important in education because they allow students to express themselves through unorthodox, but more creative ways.
The list below includes a brief bio of the musicians and links to their music.
- Sophomore Julianna Walsh
Photo courtesy of Walsh
Singer and songwriter Julianna Walsh is currently working on original music and has an EP coming out soon. Walsh will pursue music for the rest of her life as a career interest or hobby.
“Music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand,” said Stevie Wonder.
Walsh references Wonder to explain why she enjoys music. “This really connects to the fact that music can be used as a common language and can bring so many people together, regardless of background.”
View the attached links to see original music that she has written the lyrics and melody for.
Entity ft. Cillia Bonnie https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-We7PqFyS4&feature=youtu.be
Sour Candy, Newton Has Talent Runner Up, Upswing Quintet won first https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-We7PqFyS4&feature=youtu.be
Amy Winehouse, Valerie, cover https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1LVQzGWHcY&feature=youtu.be
You Go Down Smooth, cover https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2VhZY7Qof4&feature=youtu.be
- Senior Myles Hoffman
Photo courtesy of Hoffman
“I play jazz music in various bands, but what I actually produce is not your clean cut pop or jazz song. It’s kind of a mix of a lot of different genres,” said Myles Hoffman about his music. Hoffman produces his own music by editing sounds from various instruments.
He plans on pursuing a career as a music producer and record label manager. Being CEO of Sony Records would be an ideal job, but Hoffman believes it is a “far stretched” goal. A school that Hoffman is interested in, NYU Tisch School of Arts, offers a social and music entrepreneurship program called Clive Davis which fits Hoffman’s desire to learn music and business. Having interviewed Hoffman in his freshman year, I recall the time he said his dream was to play on stage with Avicii and Coldplay at the Grammys. He has realized that producing music may be a better career plan than becoming a musician, but he still envisions playing at the Grammys as a pianist or trumpet player.
The Clive Davis program’s famous alumni Maggie Rogers made Pharrell Williams cry with her song “Alaska.” In part because of recognition from Pharrell, the music video for the song has amassed 11 million views on YouTube.
“I want to be a Pharrell where I can walk in and say I can change your life because I see potential,” said Hoffman about what his ideal future looks like.
For now, Hoffman’s plan is to live in New York City in a studio with roommates who he’ll perform with at jazz clubs every night. “That kind of social experience in music is what I think is so important,” said Hoffman.
Hoffman continues to write and produce music.
- Senior Kaylee Federmann
Photo courtesy of Federmann
Edited by junior Julia Bu
Singer Kaylee Federmann was inspired to become a musician in 3rd grade when she realized “how much happiness [she got] from playing music, a feeling [she] gets from nothing else.” Federmann writes and performs her own music. In January of this year, Federmann released her EP “By Your Side” which was in part a tribute to her dad who passed away five years ago.
According to her website, writing music has helped her “transform confusion and anger into optimism and humour.”
Federmann frequently performs gigs at local businesses. Follow her latest shows through her various social media platforms.
- Just a Phase
Photo courtesy of Just a Phase
Edited by Bu
Senior Jonathan Plummer and freshman William Goldsmith play the drums, shred the guitar and bass and engineer music for their two man band Just a Phase. They describe themselves as a rock and pop band, but Plummer explained they want the public to perceive them for who they are beyond a label. “We just want to be viewed as guys that write awesome music,” said Plummer.
The band was born after tensions arose with members of their previous band Mother Russia at the YMCA music program, the West Suburban YMCA Center for Creative Arts, several years ago. That band “melted people’s faces.” Plummer added, “Back in the day, we were the best band in Newton, if I might say.”
The two have a strong bond and intend on staying together as they try to make it big. Their long term plans include attending school in the Boston area and selling tons of records. Plummer says the two are united by their drive to work toward an end goal. He explains that in creative atmospheres “a lot of people care more about being creative than they do about actually working towards a goal.” Their more immediate goal is to build a strong fan base.
Goldsmith said their strengths are their dedication to their craft, and they fill each other’s gaps. “By myself, I wouldn’t be able to do drums or vocals very well and having Plummer being able to do that is super nice,” said Goldsmith.
In addition to playing instruments, the two record and mix their music to add a “pop flair” to their music.
They are currently working on singles called “Moonlight” and “Same Way.”
- Pentagon Jazz
Photo courtesy of Pentagon Jazz
Edited by Bu
Pentagon Jazz plays near punk music, “it’s like if rock and blues had a baby,” according to junior Elias Simpson.
The group is composed of juniors Dejan Brown on saxophone, Aneel Chittilappily on guitar, Ben Reider on alto saxophone, Elias Simpson on drums, Myles Murphy on piano, and a rotating person on bass.
The four musicians, who all take Advanced Jazz Combo and Big Band, were grouped together music teacher Richard Labedz who saw potential in them. They ended up meeting together outside of class during their freshman year. The band was also inspired by Upswing Quintet, a band of North students who graduated in 2018 and senior Aidan Devine.
Murphy’s idea for the name was inspired by their logo, a hexagon. The humor comes from the fact that it’s ironic because there are six people, according to Simpson.
“We’re basically them (Upswing Quintet), but less organized,” said Ryder. He believes that the group could be really good if they became more focused.
Simpson added, “we all have our creative differences, but we always manage to get around, and we’re all good friends.”
Most of the members plan on pursuing professional music or at least continuing to play through college.
“When we’re playing and we know what we want to do, it’s tight and organized and we can make it sound really good,” said Ryder.
Follow the band on their website to find out where they are performing next.
- Sophomore Lilah Gentry
Photo courtesy of Gentry
“I always have a hard time describing what kind of music I play. I would say it’s some kind of rock or alternative, and a little bit of pop. It’s all over the place because I listen to so many different kinds of artists,” said Gentry, who plays piano, bass, sings, and used to play guitar.
Gentry’s musical history is all somewhat “all over the place.” She started playing piano in elementary school, learned bass through the WSYCCA in 6th grade, taught herself guitar, and recently started singing. She has also played in various bands.
“I’m not classically trained in music, so I don’t know all of the technical things, but I do a lot of stuff by ear,” said Gentry.
She is currently in the band 6:58 through the WSYCCA program. Walsh, freshman Arjun Shatkin and Benny Pistner, an 8th grade student are also in the band. Over the summer, she did writing and recording with WSYCCA.
“We’re all comfortable and making mistakes together. We all have such different tastes in music and ideas. It really is collaborative process of learning things and trying new stuff out.”
Their songwriting process begins with an idea like a “chord progression or groove.” Each session they build on the music and eventually record it.
Gentry is a fan of the bands Lake Street Dive, Phoenix, and singer Regina Spektor. I definitely try to emulate her because she’s a singer who plays piano, and I’ve listened to her since I was little. I think we have things in common,” said Gentry of Spektor.
Her song One of My Own that she recorded with Walsh was the first song she recorded that she wanted other people to see because it represented who she wanted to be as a musician.
“My entire life revolves around music and art because I’m always listening to it and thinking about what I want to do with it.”
Gentry plans on releasing music soon.
How to Live ft. LIP TALK
One of My Own
*Is there someone you think should be added to the list? Share your thoughts with firstname.lastname@example.org.