Makin’ Music: Juniors pursue music through live performances, EP recording

Maddie Davis and Meredith Strickland, Features Editor and Staff Writer

Walking around the hallways of Blue Valley, the love of music is easily seen.
A boy walks to class with his Beats headphones on, listening to his favorite song before class.
A group of girls cluster together in a group, each wearing a T-shirt from Miley Cyrus’ most recent concert.
The band kids take their instruments to the band hall, excitedly chatting about the new solo part one of them has received.
Show tune-loving students debate which musical has the best score.
Despite our different tastes in music, most teenagers look up to and even idolize their favorite bands and artists.
They’ve seemingly captured ideas and emotions none of us could explain, let alone put into a song.
However, BV is lucky enough to have two aspiring musicians who, one day, may be the artists thousands of teenagers look up to.


Junior creates original music, performs live:

It’s 3 a.m., and while most of us are sleeping, junior Madison Morrill is chewing on her pen as she works on a new song. She strums her guitar every few minutes, solidifying a tune to go with the lyrics in her head.
Morrill said she became interested in music at a very young age.
“I started seriously singing around the same time I started songwriting,” she said. “I was about 8. I remember that I was watching The Ellen Degeneres Show, and her guest was Taylor Swift, who had just released her first single, ‘Our Song.’ I thought that was so cool, that she was 16 and had written her own song that was number 1 on the record charts. After that, I was like, ‘I want to do that.’ So, I sat down, took the tune of a Beyoncé song and wrote down random words that fit with the music.”
Since then, Morrill said music has become much more meaningful.
“Music for me is basically a place to vent because I don’t like to always be outright with how I feel about things,” she said. “It lets me be creative without having to worry about proper grammar. I can put my heart and soul into a song and not worry about if it sounds correct. If people like it, they like it; if they don’t, then too bad — it’s me. I like music so much because it’s an escape. I love when you can find a song, you just sit there and you’re like, ‘Wow, this is me,’ to the point where it reduces you to tears. I love the power that music has.”
Not only has Morrill’s love and appreciation for music grown, but she said her songwriting ability has, too.
“I think my most quickly written songs tend to be the best because I didn’t pause to think over a long period of time,” she said. “It’s truly what I was feeling in that moment. One of my favorite songs describes how people grow up and change and how they continuously wonder, ‘How am I going to be 10 years from now?’ and what you come to realize in life. I really like this song because it’s real emotions, and many people can relate to it.”
Morrill said she hopes to reach out to people in need through her songs.
“With my music, I want people to feel like they’re not alone,” she said. “There’s been many times where I’ve been trapped in my head just thinking, ‘Wow, no one cares,’ and I don’t want anyone else to have to feel like that. I want to feel like I’m there for someone. If my music can do that, I’m living up to what I want to do.”
Morrill said she also reaches out to people through performing.
“[Junior] Lance Jewett’s dad came up to me after I performed at Gaslight Grill and told me that my song had made him cry,” she said. “Then he hugged me. I was so shocked that a full-grown man had just told me my song made him cry. I didn’t know how to react — I felt so bad because I sort of just said ‘thank you’ really quietly. I’ve never received that intimate of a compliment before about something I’ve created.”
Morrill said she enjoys performing even though it can be nerve-wracking.
“Since it’s my emotions in the song, I get concerned that people will think I’m weird,” she said. “But then I just remember it’s my song, and if they think I’m strange, then too bad for them. I really like being on stage — I just hate waiting for it. Because, once I’m on stage, the true me comes out.”
Morrill said she goes by a stage name, Sunny, because that is when she feels truly like herself.
“Sunny represents the real me, the one that isn’t afraid of what people will think of her,” she said. “She’s the person that holds nothing back. She lets me show what my songs are really saying so that I don’t hide behind the lyrics anymore.”
Morrill said although other artists’ music is where most of her inspiration comes from, there are times when she finds ideas in the world around her.
“One time I was nannying a 4-year-old who could not stop talking about trains,” she said. “It was adorable, but I thought about trains all the time. So, I wrote a song based on an emotion I was feeling and ended up calling it ‘Wrecked Dreams (Locomotive).’ I started with the rawest emotion I was feeling and the object that was stuck in my head — trains. From there, I pieced it together in my head.”
Morrill said that although some songs have been fairly easy to write, she has struggled with writing others.
“Sometimes I want to write a song, but I just don’t know where to start,” she said. “A lot of people assume that you always start with the first verse, but, sometimes, the first verse doesn’t come to you. The chorus or the bridge or the last line can come to you first. The struggle for me is finding out where the phrase or idea that comes into my head goes in a song and then working up, down or sideways to figure out the rest of the song. Or [I struggle with] just having general writer’s block or not being able to get my emotions out as clearly as I’d like.”
Besides battling writer’s block, Morrill said there are also barriers to cross in terms of her career as a whole.
“I’ve been writing songs for almost nine years, but there are quite a few people who don’t know I write,” she said. “I know there are some people who are very straightforward about the fact that they write music, but that’s not me. I do it more for myself. I only really let on that I songwrite through social media because that’s where I’m comfortable doing it. Getting noticed in a sea of musicians will always be a constant struggle for me.”
Morrill said she plans on releasing a few songs or an EP in the near future and thinks it will help with her publicity.
“I’ve come to really like the songs I’ve written recently,” she said. “A couple I’m planning to release sometime in the next couple months as just a single. If that goes well, then I’ll probably do an EP later.”
Morrill said despite all of the hard work music comes with, she wants to do it as a career, but, if it doesn’t work out, she has an idea for a backup.
“Currently, my fallback plan is to major in Music Business or Music Management,” she said. “That way, if I am able to go somewhere with my music, I can manage myself and not get ‘tricked by the system.’ Or, if [my music career] doesn’t work out, I can manage someone else. I’ll still be in the music business because that’s where I would like to be.”
Undeterred by adversity, Morrill said she doesn’t let people bring her down.
“When people tell me I won’t make it in the music industry, I just ignore them,” she said. “I don’t like to argue my dreams because no one has the right to tell me what I will and will not do. If the day comes when it hits me that I’m not going to make it in the music industry, then I’ll accept it. But until then — I have complete faith in myself.”

Junior uses music for self-expression, releases EP 

Microphone? Check.
Guitar? Check.
Performing experience? Check.
Recording studio? Check.
EP album? Check.
Junior Addie Sartino said she has set and achieved many goals for her musical career.
Sartino has been playing the guitar and singing in many different videos of her original songs.
“I started guitar lessons in fifth grade, but I had wanted to since first grade,” Sartino said.
Sartino has written more than fifty songs. She said writing songs is sometimes difficult, and some songs go unfinished.
“I started songwriting in fourth [grade], but the [songs] were all really bad,” she said. “I didn’t get good [at songwriting] until seventh or eighth [grade].”
Sartino said she tends to have a case of writer’s block, but after creating an EP, she has decided to create a band to help influence her music ideas.
“I was so stressed out while I was recording [my EP], so releasing it felt like a relief,” she said. “But I had this moment of, ‘Whoa, I’m about to share myself with everyone.’”
Sartino also said she had a lot of help from her creative partner junior Nimisha Halder. Halder has filmed many of Sartino’s songs that can be found on her YouTube channel. Sartino said she thinks collaborating with other musicians helps the writing process.
“I get writer’s block all the time,” Sartino said. “It’s awful. After recording my first EP, I went through horrible writer’s block. It’s what persuaded me to start a band, though. I need to feed off other musicians’ creativity, I think.”
An EP is a set of fewer than eight songs. Sartino released her first EP in May 2014 with a cover painted by her younger brother.
“My little brother made that picture two years ago, and, when he showed it to me, I fell in love with it,” she said. “The message I got was: You can be a regular shape and boring, or you can be star-shaped. It sounds really cheesy, but it’s what I took from it.”
She said she believes that she has a way with her words, and writings songs all comes naturally.
Sartino’s favorite song she has written, “Lonely,” is featured on her EP.
“When I finished writing it, I had this moment of awe,” Sartino said. “It’s the song that assured me of my capabilities.”
Sartino said recording the EP was stressful due to the many stages of recording a song.
“The process of recording involves recording the instrument, recording the double for the instrument so it’s heard in both ears, then the vocals, then the mixing to make it sound professional,” she said.
During the time that Sartino was recording, she said she went through a few difficult moments. She said it was a hard process to go through, especially when having to deal with a small illness.
“Recording is tedious, and slightly nerve-wracking,” she said. “I was in a basement studio, and I had to make the people around me leave because I’d get so nervous. I was sick during a solid month of recording, too, which affected my voice.”
Sartino said her album has brought many fans to listen to her songs.
“So far I’ve gotten a lot of good responses from people saying that it’s made them cry and smile,” Sartino said. “I’ve gotten a few negative responses, but that’s to be expected.”
Sartino does not only record her songs in a studio, but she also sings live at different locations.
“I do open mic nights, and I played a show at Blackdog Coffeehouse this summer,” she said. “Performing live is intimidating because you don’t want to be that performer who makes the lame jokes that aren’t funny, but you also don’t want to be boring. I’ve discovered that I enjoy performing in a band better than performing as a solo artist.”
Sartino said she has developed a strong bond with music and hopes to be a musician and attend Belmont University or the University of Texas in Austin.
“I’m going to attend a school for Music Business, most likely,” Sartino said. “My goal is to perform with a band and become very successful in the alternative music world. I don’t really have a backup plan because I don’t see the point in investing in some other career that won’t make me happy. No matter what, I’ll find a way to be happy and successful in the music industry.”
Sartino said she has been influenced by many different artists and bands.
“I have a few big influences in the music world,” Sartino said. “I’d say Twenty One Pilots, Daughter, Ingrid Michaelson, Keaton Henson and The Killers [have had a large influence on me]. I have like thirty more favorite bands, but I wouldn’t necessarily call them influences.”
Songwriting and producing music have become an immense part of Sartino’s life.
She said many artists say music is an outlet, and Sartino agrees, but she also believes that it is about gaining experience.
“Every time I listen to a new artist or watch their interviews or music videos, I get this new perspective on the world,” Sartino said. “I get an inside look at their feelings toward things.”