Jesuit Chronicle

Student music producers express themselves


Google Images

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


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, Staff Writer

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


Senior Zoë Ferguson Makes a Splash in the Music Industry


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
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Jack Kelley, Associate Chief Editor

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


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

About the Writer
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Tristan Robbins, Staff Writer

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