Jesuit Chronicle

Senior Gregor McKelligon Uses Music to Express Himself

How as self-taught guitarist found his passion in making music

Senior+Gregor+McKelligon+uses+music+to+express+himself.

Gregor McKelligon

Senior Gregor McKelligon uses music to express himself.

Back in September, I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight student musical talent. On September 21, three videos of exceptional Jesuit musicians, including senior Gregor McKelligon, were sent to the student body to vote on who would perform at Coffeehouse. Here, I interview McKelligon about his personal style, his passion for music, and where he got started.

 

Clevenger: When did you start playing guitar?

 

McKelligon: In 7th grade, I got my first guitar. That same week, [our class] was going to Outdoor School and I really wanted to play, so I grinded that whole week, and sang “The A-Team” in front of everyone. That was the first song I ever learned.”

 

Clevenger: Is that the first instrument you ever learned to play?

 

McKelligon: I played trumpet in middle school. But I probably wouldn’t have gotten a guitar if it weren’t for my sister. She was the one who was always interested in music, which is what inspired me to get into it. She also plays guitar, but she mostly plays country music.

 

Clevenger: Do you have a specific musical style?

 

McKelligon: I would say it’s a mix of alternative-pop-hip-hop.

 

Clevenger: And do you write your own music?

 

McKelligon: Yes, I’ve been writing a lot of music, and have been recording songs since February 2020. I have two songs, which I post on SoundCloud.

 

Clevenger: Have you always been a singer, or is it a skill you have picked up since you started playing guitar?

 

McKelligon: I’ve definitely gotten better at singing over the past few years, but there was a time in my life, when I was a kid, that I wouldn’t sing. You could not get me to sing because I was pretty shy. Now, singing has turned into a way for me to express myself. It’s a very comfortable thing for me. 

 

Clevenger: But you don’t take choir at Jesuit?

 

McKelligon: I took choir my freshman year, as part of the Art Wheel. When I took the class, I was in the middle of trying to figure out how I really felt about music. I liked it, but I didn’t think of it as a passion yet. Over the past two years, though, it’s become my main hobby.

 

Clevenger: Ok, let’s talk about performing. Who do you perform for now? I know you put out that video in September. What made you want to do that?

 

McKelligon: I have performed at Coffeehouse. I did the last Coffeehouse of freshman year, which is when my sister was a senior. That was our last opportunity to do a duet, so we performed together. 

 

Clevenger: So you said you perform with your sister. Do you have anyone else that you sing or perform with?

 

McKelligon: I have friends who have similar interests as me, and we work on music together. [seniors] Aidan Azavedo, Max Barton, Alex Perussi, and Alex Hayes all help me with my music. They take beats from online, and rap over them. Alex and Andrew are the producers, so they work with the microphone, and whatever work comes along with producing. 

 

Clevenger: How many songs have you written?

 

McKelligon: I have a ton of unreleased songs that I’m working on, but I only have two that are out right now. I usually write my own songs. Sometimes I’ll collaborate with my friends. I made a studio in my basement, so that’s where we play.

 

Clevenger: How do you find the time to work on your music?

 

McKelligon: When I have sports, I go to practice after school, and then come home to record a part of a song. Whenever I can find the time. I usually do my homework later at night.

 

Clevenger: Are you a self-taught guitarist?

 

McKelligon: Yes, and it was hard to keep going. After a while, your fingers start to hurt. But I enjoyed music a lot, and it was my way of expressing myself. Sometimes, I don’t even realize I have a feeling inside me until I get it out into a song, and then listening back to the song, the lyrics are so much deeper than I thought. It almost gives me a reflection of myself. I mostly write about things that are going on in my life.

 

I feel like there is a lot of pressure to play a sport or be part of an activity that everyone else is participating in. I like finding my own way. There’s something that makes me happy and excited with myself when I do something that’s different from what other people are doing.

 

Clevenger: When did you start recording your music?

 

McKelligon: I used to use the Voice Memos app on my phone. I didn’t know how to produce or anyone that knew how to produce, so I just started playing guitar and singing, and recording it on my phone. I recorded my first song in January 2020. We recorded it in a closet.

 

I’ve put all my money into this, but my parents are really supportive. I show them my stuff, and they support both me and my sister. I have a few friends that I’ll show all my work to. I haven’t released very much material, so there isn’t a lot for people to base my stuff off of, but I’m a perfectionist, so if I’m going to release something new, I want it to be perfect.

 

My best stuff comes out when I’m having strong feelings. One of my songs, “The Way That You Are,” just came out of me after I was fed up with certain things that were happening in my life. Even though some of the words reflect my anger in that moment, it is probably my best lyrical song. 

Back in September, I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight student musical talent. On September 21, three videos of exceptional Jesuit musicians, including senior Gregor McKelligon, were sent to the student body to vote on who would perform at Coffeehouse. Here, I interview McKelligon about his personal style, his passion for music, and where he got started.

 

Clevenger: When did you start playing guitar?

 

McKelligon: In 7th grade, I got my first guitar. That same week, [our class] was going to Outdoor School and I really wanted to play, so I grinded that whole week, and sang “The A-Team” in front of everyone. That was the first song I ever learned.”

 

Clevenger: Is that the first instrument you ever learned to play?

 

McKelligon: I played trumpet in middle school. But I probably wouldn’t have gotten a guitar if it weren’t for my sister. She was the one who was always interested in music, which is what inspired me to get into it. She also plays guitar, but she mostly plays country music.

 

Clevenger: Do you have a specific musical style?

 

McKelligon: I would say it’s a mix of alternative-pop-hip-hop.

 

Clevenger: And do you write your own music?

 

McKelligon: Yes, I’ve been writing a lot of music, and have been recording songs since February 2020. I have two songs, which I post on SoundCloud.

 

Clevenger: Have you always been a singer, or is it a skill you have picked up since you started playing guitar?

 

McKelligon: I’ve definitely gotten better at singing over the past few years, but there was a time in my life, when I was a kid, that I wouldn’t sing. You could not get me to sing because I was pretty shy. Now, singing has turned into a way for me to express myself. It’s a very comfortable thing for me. 

 

Clevenger: But you don’t take choir at Jesuit?

 

McKelligon: I took choir my freshman year, as part of the Art Wheel. When I took the class, I was in the middle of trying to figure out how I really felt about music. I liked it, but I didn’t think of it as a passion yet. Over the past two years, though, it’s become my main hobby.

 

Clevenger: Ok, let’s talk about performing. Who do you perform for now? I know you put out that video in September. What made you want to do that?

 

McKelligon: I have performed at Coffeehouse. I did the last Coffeehouse of freshman year, which is when my sister was a senior. That was our last opportunity to do a duet, so we performed together. 

 

Clevenger: So you said you perform with your sister. Do you have anyone else that you sing or perform with?

 

McKelligon: I have friends who have similar interests as me, and we work on music together. [seniors] Aidan Azavedo, Max Barton, Alex Perussi, and Alex Hayes all help me with my music. They take beats from online, and rap over them. Alex and Andrew are the producers, so they work with the microphone, and whatever work comes along with producing. 

 

Clevenger: How many songs have you written?

 

McKelligon: I have a ton of unreleased songs that I’m working on, but I only have two that are out right now. I usually write my own songs. Sometimes I’ll collaborate with my friends. I made a studio in my basement, so that’s where we play.

 

Clevenger: How do you find the time to work on your music?

 

McKelligon: When I have sports, I go to practice after school, and then come home to record a part of a song. Whenever I can find the time. I usually do my homework later at night.

 

Clevenger: Are you a self-taught guitarist?

 

McKelligon: Yes, and it was hard to keep going. After a while, your fingers start to hurt. But I enjoyed music a lot, and it was my way of expressing myself. Sometimes, I don’t even realize I have a feeling inside me until I get it out into a song, and then listening back to the song, the lyrics are so much deeper than I thought. It almost gives me a reflection of myself. I mostly write about things that are going on in my life.

 

I feel like there is a lot of pressure to play a sport or be part of an activity that everyone else is participating in. I like finding my own way. There’s something that makes me happy and excited with myself when I do something that’s different from what other people are doing.

 

Clevenger: When did you start recording your music?

 

McKelligon: I used to use the Voice Memos app on my phone. I didn’t know how to produce or anyone that knew how to produce, so I just started playing guitar and singing, and recording it on my phone. I recorded my first song in January 2020. We recorded it in a closet.

 

I’ve put all my money into this, but my parents are really supportive. I show them my stuff, and they support both me and my sister. I have a few friends that I’ll show all my work to. I haven’t released very much material, so there isn’t a lot for people to base my stuff off of, but I’m a perfectionist, so if I’m going to release something new, I want it to be perfect.

 

My best stuff comes out when I’m having strong feelings. One of my songs, “The Way That You Are,” just came out of me after I was fed up with certain things that were happening in my life. Even though some of the words reflect my anger in that moment, it is probably my best lyrical song. 

 

Clevenger: Would you consider pursuing music as a career?

 

McKelligon: I mean, yeah, that’s the goal. I’ll go to college, and music probably won’t be my major, but it may be a side activity, because it is my true passion. My dream is performing.

 

Stay tuned for McKelligon’s new single, “The Day That I Realized,” coming soon to SoundCloud! You can listen to McKelligon’s other songs here: https://soundcloud.app.goo.gl/CwfVkAgf2aw779mM9

Senior Gregor McKelligon uses music to express himself.

 

 

About the Writer
Photo of Steele Clevenger
Steele Clevenger, Editor-in-Chief and Creative Director

Sarcastic. Artistic. Enthusiastic. These are three words Steele Clevenger would use to describe herself. A senior at Jesuit High School and a veteran journalism...

A Review of TwoSet Violin’s “Prelude”

A piece, not a song.

Image+courtesy+of+Avni+Sharma.+

Image courtesy of Avni Sharma.

Calling all musicians, Youtube comedy fanatics, and casual modern classical music listeners: TwoSet Violin has officially released their first single. 

Twoset Violin is a popular Youtube comedy duo consisting of Brett Yang and Eddy Chen, based in Brisbane, Australia. Specializing in humorous videos about the everyday struggles of classical musicians, their content has garnered over 710 million views on Youtube, and 5 million followers on social media. Along with composer Jordon He, Yang and Chen surprised their fans by composing and recording their first single, “Prelude”. It was released Oct. 9th, and has since gotten 400 thousand views. 

The piece itself is beautiful, as if one were to imagine themself gliding through a meadow. It’s very reminiscent of Debussy’s style of music, incorporating various violin techniques such as trills, harmonics, and pizzicato. These techniques are meant to bring serenity and dimension to the piece by imitating the sounds of nature, such as the flutter of a bird’s wings or the sound of a babbling brook. Debussy, a composer of the impressionist era, often sought to find inspiration by imitating the beauty and nostalgia of his memories in his music. Composer He found inspiration for this piece the same way. 

“It has many eastern musical elements,” He wrote in a Facebook post. “It is the kind of music I grew up with.”

“Prelude” captures the peaceful and romantic essence of Zanhao’s “Butterfly Lovers Concerto” and the landscape of Massenet’s “Meditation from Thais”. In other words, it marries elements of modern French and Chinese classical music in a unique way. Yang and Chen’s violin skills enhances the piece through expressionist vibrato and varied dynamics. Chen, He, and Yang have created pure art, with “Prelude” painting a picture one can only see by hearing it. 

He recently released the sheet music on Musescore, a free website carrying thousands of free music sheets for musicians to learn. With many Jesuit students being musically inclined, Twoset Violin’s new piece could give students a new avenue to collaborate and bond during quarantine. 

About the Writer
Photo of Avni Sharma
Avni Sharma, Staff Writer

Avni Sharma is a current sophomore at Jesuit High School. She enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics, from music reviews to current politics. Though...

Student music producers express themselves

A+professional+music+studio%2C+with+a+mixing+board+and+professional+equipment

Google Images

A professional music studio, with a mixing board and professional equipment

Arts

Student Music Producers

November 14, 2019


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Wrriten by James Martini

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A professional music studio, with a mixing board and professional equipment

Photo courtesy of Google Images

When you think of musicians at Jesuit, you likely think of students in our Jazz Band and Symphonic Band programs. Or maybe you think of students who have spent years mastering an instrument. What you likely don’t think of, however, are the students who produce their own music as an independent hobby completely independently.

Senior Ethan Anderson, for example, has been making music since around eighth grade, seriously getting into it around his sophomore year.

“I started with the School of Rock which is an institution that allows you to perform, and started on the drums,” Anderson said. “And then I transitioned into more melodic instruments like guitar and realizing that I could do both of those things, I realized that the only other step was to really just put it down into a format.” 

Anderson’s style has shifted throughout his time producing, but right now it features quite a lot of synths, and simplistic beats with complexity arising in the arrangement and layering of all the parts. He described his genre as “Bedroom Pop”.

Sophomore Matty Rojas had a similar experience when he got into making music. “For me it was just the natural ‘I like playing guitar and drums so it’s like in high school you gotta join a band’,” Rojas said.

Rojas’ bandmate junior Nicky Tcherven explained that their band, Body Magazine, makes music in styles ranging anywhere from hard rock like The Smashing Pumpkins to softer pop like The Drums.

Rojas and Tcherven said that their process for writing generally begins with Tcherven coming up with a riff or a beat himself.

“I record a video of it on Snapchat and send it [to Rojas],” Tcherven said.

“And then I rate it out of ten and then we show it the other two people,” Rojas continued. “We improvise and then we refine it.”

Anderson’s process generally tended to begin with a drum beat though, due to his background as a drummer.

“But lately I’ve been starting mostly with chord progressions, mostly just getting a basic synth down and then leading into sort of layering and bass and drums, so starting from the top down instead of the bottom,” Anderson said.

Because these students all learned to create music mostly on their own, they all had some ideas for how Jesuit could better encourage and support students interested in creating music.

“They should have a music theory class,” Tcherven said.

“Yeah, a music theory class. I’d legit take that,” Rojas added.

Anderson’s ideas were simpler to implement.

“There’s a lot of free software they could put on the computers to give access to that for people,” Anderson said. “And with that software, they could also have maybe a club spring up that related to it.”

About the Writer
Photo of James Martini
James Martini, Alumni 2019-2020

James Martini’s interest in writing began as early as the second grade, and he has written ever since. As a senior, he began his career at the Jesuit...

Zoe Ferguson Making a Splash in the Music Industry

Zoe+Ferguson+Making+a+Splash+in+the+Music+Industry

Senior Zoë Ferguson Makes a Splash in the Music Industry

JACK KELLEY

Associate Chief Editor

At just 17 years of age, Senior Zoe Ferguson has already begun making a splash in the music industry. Her latest single, DIP, has amassed over 350,000 streams and last year, she was selected to the exclusive EMERGE program, a talent-search program from Atlantic Records. 

Ferguson started making music at the age of 13, drawing inspiration from her father who is also a musician. When she was 15, she started sharing her music, posting songs on Soundcloud and a music instagram account.  “I got some traction from [the account] and some producers in Portland asked me to work with them,” Ferguson said. “After that, I just started taking things more seriously and tried to get a bigger following in Portland.”

Following this initial success, it did not take long for Ferguson to attract the attention of industry-leading producers. Last year, Zoe applied for a teen-talent search program called EMERGE from Atlantic Records, a label whose artists include Cardi B, Bruno Mars and Lil Uzi Vert. Of the 7,000 applicants, Ferguson was one of 15 that Atlantic Records flew out to Los Angeles for a tryout in front of the label’s top producers. After making it through additional rounds of cuts, she was selected as one of the two artists to make music with producers who had worked with the likes of Khalid and Billie Eilish. 

More recently, Zoe has been working with Portland-area producer Graham Barton, who produced Ferguson’s highest streaming song to date, DIP.

The song, which has accumulated hundreds of thousands of streams on Spotify, Apple Music, Soundcloud and YouTube, received its start in Jesuit’s Clark Library.

“One day, I was writing my junior paper, in the library during class, and I had just gotten the track from Graham who was like, ‘Can you write to this?’, so I was listening to it in class and I was sick of doing my junior paper so I wrote it there in class,” Ferguson said. “Clare was across from me, helping me figure it out and that’s when I got the chorus done.”

“We were laughing about [the song lyrics] because she pulled them out of thin air,” Claire Kreutzer said. “She always knew what she wanted the concept of the song to be, so seeing all of the lyrics play out was really interesting to me.” 

The song was released this past July and received a boost in streams after it was added to a Spotify-curated playlist with over 750,000 followers called “Pop Right Now”. 

Following her senior year, Ferguson hopes to take a gap year and further pursue her dream of becoming a professional recording artist.

Senior Anna Kearney believes that Zoe has what it takes. “I think that in no time she will be a household name and singing music as a career, Kearney said.  “She is so happy when she is singing and really feels at home.”

Ferguson’s latest single, Medicine, dropped October 3rd.

About the Writer
Photo of Jack Kelley
Jack Kelley, Alumni 2018-2020

Jack Kelley is the associate chief editor for this year’s Jesuit Chronicle. A senior at Jesuit High School, Kelley has journalistic experience as a staff...

Tune in to Studying

Senior+Jaiden+McClellan+studying+hard+after+school+while+listening+to+music

Virginia Larner

Senior Jaiden McClellan studying hard after school while listening to music

As students get back into their rhythms, they are starting to rediscover their study techniques. A common manner of study is to listen to music while they work on homework or study. But is this method actually viable?

A study done by neuroscience professor William Klemm, Ph.D., on the “Mozart Effect” produced examples that, “music people considered pleasurable increased the release of dopamine (the “feel good” neurotransmitter) in the brain. Dopamine promotes learning to approach rewards, while a deficiency of dopamine promotes learning of punishments” (Psychology Today).

Studies like these show that students who systematically listen to music as part of their study regimen tend to recall their study materials better. This is because they associate those materials with the success of a good test grade or a reward of sorts.

Students may take that information and plead with their teachers that they need to listen to music as they are unable to study quietly. But that decision is all up to their teachers, who ultimately have the power to decide whether music is a distraction or a tool in their classrooms.

“I think it’s a double edged sword, because for some students, it’s a good opportunity to help them focus,” math teacher Mr. Doebler said. “But for other students, I think it’s a distraction. I think it’s very individualized in that regard to students willing to drown out distractions and focus is great, but if they just use it as another tool to kind of distract themselves, it turns out not to be so helpful.”

When teachers around campus prohibit their students to listen to music in their classes, students turn to the library to listen to their music and study while in a quiet environment.

“It’s easier to work in a library,” senior Kyle Kneefel said. “Listening to music in the library definitely helps me. I put my earbuds in, and I feel like I get more work done. Not only am I less likely to be distracted by talking to others, it kind of lets me hone in on my work.”

At times like break and lunch, the library becomes a center of chaos for students to speak with each other at whatever volume they please, so having music as a way out of that chaos helps students get their work done.

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Courtesy of Virginia Larner

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