Students produce work for SoundCloud and Spotify

Students upload songs and album covers to connect with others


By Marah Shulda

Surrounded by editing equipment senior Killian O’Brien works on a new single on Tuesday Feb. 26. He uses a variety of equipment and software to make and produce original music. “I use the Pro Tools software to record [the lyrics] and to make beats I use my phone to record,” O’Brien said.

Sophie Lecuru and John Lehan

Focusing in on his work, senior Killian O’Brien uses special equipment in his basement to create a new beat for an upcoming song of his. Several students at the school, including O’Brien, have taken up the hobby of uploading music onto SoundCloud and creating album covers. Whether continuing a lifelong adventure or having fun with friends, these artists produce with passion.  

Freshman Drew Morgan has been making music since he was young, and it has since developed into a larger hobby of his.

“I’ve always been writing since I was little but more recently during the summer I wanted to do something that would put myself out there a little bit more,” Morgan said.

Most of Morgan’s songs use beats from YouTube, but he has made originals before.  For inspiration, Morgan looks to his favorite artists.

“I’m really inspired by Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj,” Morgan said. “I think they’re really good rappers so I make my raps from them.”

Junior Jake Esser also dabbles in the music-making industry and creates album covers for himself and his friends. To date, he has created album covers for three artists.

“I usually look at other album covers [for inspiration] and look up Travis Scott’s covers on Spotify,” Esser said.

According to Morgan, the process to create a song and put it on SoundCloud is simple. Each song takes about three hours in all, two for writing and one for recording.

“First you have to write [the song] of course, then record it, then edit it so your voice isn’t jumping out and sounds either too loud or maybe too quiet,” Morgan said. “Then, put it on SoundCloud and you’re done.”

The process of creating an album cover is also fairly routine according to Esser, who takes 30 to 45 minutes to produce one. He originally built his skills producing sport-related pieces.  

By Steven Curto
Using textures and patterns he finds online and photoshop, junior Jake Esser creates an album cover for Mill Valley Alumni Mitchell Grissom for his Spotify rap song on Tuesday Feb. 26.

“Usually, I get pictures from whoever the cover is for and then they tell me what they want on it,” Esser said. “I just throw it all together by going online and searching up textures and text and throw the parental advisory thing on there if it’s needed.”

Senior Killian O’Brien’s interest for writing songs for SoundCloud started last summer. His songwriting allows him to connect with other musicians.

“There’s lots of [unique experiences],” O’Brien said. “[For example], getting everyone together because everyone likes to either make or listen to music. Creating is always more fun when there’s more people.”

O’Brien tends to write songs when something in his life has affected his feelings.

“It’s just kind of whatever I’m feeling that day,” O’Brien said. “It could be someone made you mad or a girl hurt you or something.”

Whereas sometimes O’Brien produces music with other artists, other times he works alone in his basement.  

“I usually try to make a beat and then I’ll send the link over Google Drive to whoever is writing it. If I’m writing it, then I just write it when I have free time,” O’Brien said. “Then you come back and record it and I’ll edit.”

Over time, O’Brien has slowly acquired special equipment that he produces his songs with. He got his equipment from either Guitar Center or Craigslist, and spends roughly two hours every day creating music.

“So we have the keyboard which is used to make beats. This is the keyboard, the Behringer x32, which runs the microphone to the software,” O’Brien said. “I use the Pro Tools software to record, and to make beats I use my phone to record.”

Creating beats are usually the most time-consuming part of producing a song for O’Brien, so he puts a lot of thought into them. From there, he begins the writing process.

“If I know it’s a sad beat I wanna be sad, but if it’s a happy beat then I just work off of that,” O’Brien said. “You listen to the beat and then start writing. I usually try to come up with a chorus first.”

Many of O’Brien’s songs feature beats from YouTube instead, which cuts song producing time down to an hour. O’Brien has plans to continue his musical journey, both for fun and profit.

“For SoundCloud I’m definitely going to keep it up […] and make funny raps,” O’Brien said. “[For] Spotify maybe I’ll try to make some actual money.”

Morgan also foresees himself using music in his future to express himself and influence listeners to “just to be yourself”.

“I want to get somewhere with my music and broadcast my voice so I can inspire other people,” Morgan said.


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