IN DEPTH: Musicians on the rise
May 4, 2018
This month, Lancer Link has decided to recognize some of Carlsbad High School’s up and coming musicians. The following stories dig deeper into each artist’s passion, exploring how they got into music and what their future looks like.
Rapping against racism
The 2016 election changed the lives of millions of Americans. One of its most visible effects was how it inspired dissatisfied citizens to resist and voice their beliefs. Sophomore Kai Burke is one of these angered Americans, but instead of protesting or ranting on social media, he uses a more unique method of expressing himself.
Burke is a Soundcloud rapper who goes by the name “Chronickai”. The election influenced him to share his thoughts and political frustrations with the world. Now he translates his experiences with racism and injustice into rhythm and rhyme.
“I was upset about the election and that was the first thing I actually wrote about,” Burke said. “The racism and the disrespect towards all types of people [angered me].”
Burke has had his own experiences with racism. During his freshman year, another student harassed him because of his Asian background.
“I was walking, doing my thing when one guy last year walked by and uttered a slur,” Burke said. “I didn’t even know him. It was just random.”
That was not the first time Burke has felt uncomfortable because of his race, however. As a child, he felt different than his peers.
“When I was little, I went to a school with mostly white people so I felt like I didn’t really fit in and I didn’t really know why,” Burke said.
Burke explores this discomfort and his identity with songs like “Island Boy”. “Island Boy” features many allusions to the Philippines, where Burke still has family.
“Being mixed and not always feeling like I fit in one category inspired me to write stuff like ‘Island Boy’,” Burke said. “My experience going to the Philippines influenced ‘Island Boy’ in particular. That put it in perspective. I was eight at the time so I didn’t really know what anything meant until I went back there and explored it.”
Burke not only wishes to express himself through his music, but he wants to influence others as well. After all the hate he witnessed during the election, Burke hopes people can become more open-minded through music.
“I’m just trying to educate people about racism in certain songs and to educate people to be more open and not judge people by any labels,” Burke said.
I’m just trying to educate people about racism in certain songs and to educate people to be more open and not judge people by any labels”
— Kai Burke
Burke believes that the kind of change he desires can be achieved through music, especially rap. He thinks that rap is not only a satisfying creative outlet, but also an effective political tool, one that he intends to keep using in the future to advocate for his beliefs.
“The whole purpose of rap is the political aspect of it…if you don’t want to hear that, don’t listen to it,” Burke said.
Up and coming rapper goes beyond Carlsbad
Recording in a studio in North Hollywood is a dream many want to achieve, and junior Gavin Schmidt already has. Schmidt possesses a passion for music that goes beyond just listening to it; He writes it and puts it on music streaming apps such as Apple Music, SoundCloud and Spotify for many to listen to.
A passion that started in middle school as a result of his older brother making music has not only landed him an audience, but also a recording deal. Schmidt, only 17 years old, writes his own music which he described as ‘different and vibey’.
“My older brother made music before I did which is how I got into it,” Schmidt said. “My mom helped me get started and all the money I make goes back into the music.”
Along with the support and motivation from his family, Schmidt also has strong encouragement from his friends. One of his closest friends, Johnny Favila, has accompanied Schmidt to the studio multiple times and has encouraged the rapper to keep making music.
“I take pictures for him occasionally for him to post on Instagram,” Favila said. “ I also go to the studio with him.”
While it may be seen as a common hobby for many teens today, especially at Carlsbad High, many of the artists have yet to play actual shows. Schmidt has performed three different times, all being at the San Diego Observatory. Not only has he performed but he has also collaborated with a few different artists, something that young musicians do not do often.
“I’ve written for other artists,” Schmidt said, “I don’t have a favorite piece, I like all the music I have written for myself and other people.”
Not only has Schmidt developed his own style of music throughout his career, but he has also been inspired and motivated by many successful role models in the field.
“I record and write music whenever I have time, I don’t have a set schedule to do it,” Schmidt said. “Raredell and Glow Boy influenced me because their music is really good.”
It is safe to say that music plays some sort of role in everybody’s life. It is something that can be used to cope or used to express the way someone feels. By writing and producing music, Schmidt is is able to express himself and share it with the world.
“The music that I have written has shaped the way that I am,” Schmidt said, “I can express myself through the music and release my feelings into it.”
Throughout his career, Schmidt’s passion for writing and producing music has only grown. By learning from his experiences, not only has every track that he has put out been different but his lyrical abilities have improved; something his supporters have taken notice of.
“I have listened to all of his music but ‘Black Heart’ is my favorite,” Flavia said. “ I like the lyrics and what he is saying in it. It is lyrically stronger than all of his other pieces.”
It is no lie that the music industry is not very easy to get into nor is it easy to thrive in it. Schmidt believes that if he keeps doing what makes him happy he shouldn’t worry what others think of his music and gives that advice to other aspiring musicians.
“Right now I hope the music keeps going up like it is,” Schmidt said, “ Just do it, don’t listen to anybody and what they have to say about it.”
Kevin Pesto finds his sound
Balancing school with your personal passions can be quite difficult, but senior Korey Loberg has found a solution- in the form of Kevin Pesto. Under the pseudonym, Loberg has released a number of original tracks allowing him to improve on his personal passion for music.
Loberg found an initial push to pursue music, as he sought to evoke similar emotions to those elicited from some of his favorite pieces of music.
“I played music my whole life and always liked listening to it. Seeing what it did for certain people and how people reacted to it at shows and in the streets made me want to get the same reaction,” senior Loberg said. “When I’m listening to Sgt. Pepper’s, I know that it is such a big piece of history, and I really strive to make something like that.”
A number of artists and albums contributed to Loberg’s desire to create and share music.
“The biggest inspiration for starting to make music was Tyler the Creator. I was always a huge fan of him and then he was big on the do it yourself kind of thing. So that inspired me to start doing it,” Loberg said. “When I listen to [my favorite] albums and songs it evokes such a feeling of pure joy, inspiration and pride. I always strive to make something as good as that.”
Loberg has found that some of his favorite moments involving music have been simple ones, where he is completely focused on his craft.
“I loved over the summer, going in my garage at night, getting very, very inspired and staying up until 3:30 working on music. It is just so fun and time flies by you,” Loberg said.
Loberg has attempted to force the creative process but finds that his best work presents itself in everyday moments when he least expects it.
“I’ve tried to just walk into my garage and write a song, but it always comes out bad,” Loberg said. “When it really comes together, I’ll be just listening to another song, or watching a movie or TV show, and I’ll see something that will evoke a melody or a chord progression or just a feeling. I will immediately be able to run with it and stretch a whole song out.”
Rising band makes original songs
Numerous students at Carlsbad High School have passions for music, but what makes this passion even more special is when you share it with your friends. Juniors Davin Eagleston, Benji Vandzandt and Max Pinamonti, sophomore Gibby Anderson and senior Erik Methot recently formed a band, resembling a Cage the Elephant sound and vibe, named Happy Return.
The band formed about four or five months ago, when Eagleston wanted the five to get together and do a gig for his birthday. They had all been interested in music for some time before this, but this was the first time they all played together.
“We were all friends already and we all played instruments so we [decided] it would be fun to play shows and stuff,” Pinamonti said.
Though the band enjoys covers, their originals are what they are known for. They have a few originals and many people have begun to recognize these songs and their unique style.
“Covers are fun to play but it’s nothing like making an original,” Methot said. “It means much more to you and it’s cool when you see people actually liking your music.”
The band practices as much as they can, usually every other day, but with the increase of schoolwork as students get closer to finals and the weight of extracurricular activities, the band has cut down to two or three times a week.
I surf and I skate, and I’m involved at church but when I’m at church I’m playing music so I don’t know” Anderson said. “I [also] like to make my own music.”
Another interesting thing about the band is they switch off roles. While Vandzandt only plays the drums, Pinamonti plays guitar and bass. Methot mainly plays the guitar, but will occasionally sing, Anderson plays bass and sings and Eagleston plays guitar and sings.
“I like playing the drums because it is a very unique instrument” Vandzandt said. “I got into music because my brother needed a drummer for his band.”
These five musicians all contribute to the band differently, each having their own individual sound that is apparent through their music.
“Well, before having each other, we had our own styles of music and then once we started jamming, they came together and made a specific sound and it’s more unique,” Eagleston said.
Though the band is unsure of their future, the overall purpose is to have fun and share their passion with their peers.
“Keep playing music,” Methot said. “It is super fun and I have done it forever and life without music for me would be so weird. It’s one of the things that I will literally do for my whole life. I love doing it.”
Hannah’s got talent
Freshman continues her music after auditioning for America’s Got Talent.
Freshman vocalist Hannah Bodden participated and made it through cut lists to try out for Americas Got Talent. Although she is a freshmen currently, she tried out as an 11- year- old and again when she was 12. She found a passion for singing at a young age, and it continues to inspire her as she incorporates it into her daily life.
“Singing has been such a huge part in my life,”Bodden said. “I cannot go a day without singing. It is just something that’s a part of me and something that will always be with me.”
With her passion for singing comes the stress and anxiety of performing. Frequently, when people are asked to perform or speak in front of crowds they tend to experience some form of anxiety over the notion of losing their train of thought, getting embarrassed, or losing control over their behavior. While it is very typical for most people to have nerves settle in before the show’s audition, Bodden only being in fifth and sixth grade at the time of her tryouts seemed to have the stress fade away as she stood before the judges.
“I was nervous at first but then in the moment all the nerves went away,” Bodden said. “I just knew that I was here for something I love and I had made it so far to let pre-performance nerves stand in the way.”
For her audition, she sang the song, “I Don’t Know Why” by Norah Jones. Although she chose this jazz song, Bodden likes to venture in vast musical genres and practice in different tones and pitches. She ranges from jazz and pop to blues and R&B.
“Dabbling in different musical context is great because there is always a song for every mood or feeling your going through,” Bodden said.
Bodden’s extensive variety in the music she prefers to sing makes it that much easier for her to integrate her musical side into her everyday life. She states sometimes she will just start singing at random and not even realize it until her mom mentions it.
“I fully intend to take singing further and incorporate it into my life even after high school,” Bodden said. “Singing is so much more than an extra curricular activity or a fun pastime to me. I need music to get through the day.”
While most people take singing as a hobby, Bodden feels strongly about it and wishes to dedicate her entire life to singing and make a career out of it. Since she is only into her first year of high school, a singing career seems distant, although she is working on the progression of her own record while keeping the balance of her school life in mind.
“I am currently in contact with a record label right now, but I have to have my academics stable before I take that extra step,” Bodden said.
Maddie Ward finds a rhythm for her busy life
Usually, when people get to high school, they become preoccupied with the burden of homework and challenging classes. The high school commitment tends to take away time for people to enjoy and develop their passions. Yet, sophomore Maddie Ward manages to juggle it all, while at the same time, making a name for herself in the world of music.
Unintentionally discovering a love for a new activity happened for Maddie a couple years ago. Since then, Ward has accepted an abundance of responsibilities in high school, but her musical hobbies still persist.
“I’ve always liked singing, but then when I was in 8th grade, I just took my brother’s guitar and started secretly playing in my room, and that’s when it all started,” Ward said. “The feeling still exhilarates me.”
Ward is an active participant in six clubs, while also becoming junior class president. Her involvement in school activities has resulted in a variety of leadership roles, including being president of the Academic Science Club, Academic League team manager, live guest and social media producer for CHSTV and Lancer Link’s multimedia editor. Despite her commitments, music is never on the backburner for Ward.
“I prioritize [music],” Ward said. “I see it as a destresser. So, when I get home and I have a ton of homework, my main thing that I procrastinate with is definitely playing guitar. If I’m stressed out after a long day of studying, I try to make time to practice and fit in a little bit of music so I’m not overwhelmed by everything.”
As of now, Ward sees her talent as more of a hobby, rather than a career. Even though becoming a musician seems unrealistic to her, Ward still hopes to connect with others through her music farther down the line.
“My main goal would be to just put out music that I was proud of and music that other people could relate to,” Ward said.