Kian Stretch ‘17 went from being a listener to making the music himself. He began his music career as a DJ in middle school. Then one day, he watched a music video depicting artists hanging out and making music in the studio. He thought to himself, “Dang, that looks so fun.” The lifestyle and freedom of the music industry that immediately attracted him remained “something he would remember forever.” That Christmas, Stretch got music equipment, and that was just the beginning.
There has been a spark of interest at SAAS that goes unseen but not unheard. More and more students are pursuing music production, especially now that there’s an upper school class devoted to creating music taught by Seattle producer and Grammy nominee Amos Miller.
Many students use Spotify, a popular app to browse music and playlists, but Stretch and other serious listeners prefer the SoundCloud app that allows smaller artists to share their work. SAAS students who are discovering how to make the music themselves can now access Ableton Live 9 Studio software in music production class.
Marius Revere ’17 says he used to dabble around with making music, but started getting serious this year in Amos’s class. Some students have even become bold enough to publish their beats and songs to SoundCloud, including Stretch and “Rolling Thunder” partners, Oscar Zorn ’19 and Axel Hejlsberg ’19.
Stretch credits a lot of his success to his lucky encounter with Roman Merlino ’15. A friend had heard Stretch was making music and introduced him to Merlino. “Roman expected me to be worse [than I was],” recounted Stretch. “And my beats were absolute trash. But he heard something in them.” From then on, Stretch sent Merlino everything he ever worked on. Merlino acted as a sort of mentor, handing back notes until it got to the point where Stretch could critique his own work. “[Roman] was the reason I stuck with it,” Stretch says.
To other SAAS students considering trying out music production, Kian is honest that this passion isn’t for everyone. It’s hard work at first, so it's common for doubts to arise. Everyone has to figure out the software in the beginning, but if the creative process doesn’t come naturally, Kian says maybe it’s better to just look into another hobby.