Beats on the Bluff: Student artists create original music
Sophomore Kaitlyn Fernandez plays the guitar and also writes her own music. She was originally inspired by Taylor Swift but has found a new sound since coming to Portland.
Music is a big part of life on The Bluff. UP students express their love of music in many ways, from the University Singers to the Wind Symphony to the KDUP shack. Some students even make their own music. Here are three students at UP who choose to create music to get away from the stresses of school.
Freshman business major Sam Jensen has been making music for almost five years. He started in the eighth grade, making beats on his computer at home. Since then, he has evolved to not only producing his own rap songs, but also writing lyrics, rapping and performing live at different venues around Portland, such as the Hawthorne Theater. Jensen has his eyes set on a future in music and hopes to grow his fanbase as an independent artist.
“A huge reason I make music is because I love performing live,” Jensen said. “I want to continue performing and sharing my music so I can impact a lot more people.”
Music has had a profound impact on Jensen’s life, who goes by the rapper name ‘Sevens.’ Originally from the Portland Metropolitan Area, he first picked up a guitar when he was 7 years old and fell in love instantly. Jensen recalls being a little kid and dreaming of one day becoming a rock star.
As a sophomore in high school, Jensen started producing beats for fun. Soon after, he began writing and rapping his own verses, which made him realize his passion for creating music. Jensen writes songs about all topics, from depression and partying to light-hearted music like rap parodies.
Four years into his music career, Jensen has performed live several times, as well as released two EP’s and two complete albums. His latest project ‘Shallow Grove Vol. 2’ was released in 2018 and is available on Spotify.
Jensen is pursuing a degree in business, which he believes will help him market and expand his brand as a musician. He has many goals for his music career, and he said that UP is the ideal environment to achieve them.
“In my first year here, UP has definitely influenced and inspired me,” Jensen said. “The little things like new friends and walking around the campus give me inspiration for new ideas and make me want to do bigger and better things with my music.”
Sophomore nursing major Kaitlyn Fernandez has been writing her own songs since the age of 13. Originally from Fresno, California, Fernandez began playing guitar at 12 years old, and has used music as her creative outlet ever since.
“Everyone has their dream when they’re little,” Fernandez said. “I never wanted to be famous. I saw how artists write songs and then go on stage, and just the thought of having people sing your own songs back to you is insane.”
A year after learning guitar, Fernandez got tired of playing other people’s songs and decided to write her own music. She says she has no exact process when it comes to making music. It’s different with every song, and she often stays awake late into the night writing lyrics. The themes of Fernandez’s songs vary, but most of them convey positive messages inspired by her experiences with friendships, romance and other relatable subjects.
Since coming to UP, Fernandez said that new independence and responsibilities changed her music. She shifted her genre away from Taylor Swift pop style to a folk-like sound, which is slower and more acoustic. She can play guitar, ukulele and recently picked up the banjo.
As for her future career, Fernandez said she has let go of her dream of pursuing music professionally, but that she will always do it on the side. Having written so many songs, her current goal is to record more of her work.
“Now that I’ve gotten older, I know that it’s just a thing I’ll always do on the side because it’s such a good outlet,” Fernandez said. “It’s been such a big part of my life, I don’t think I could ever just stop doing it.”
Listen to one of Fernandez’s songs here.
Sophomore computer science major Sam Lemly has been producing music since he was a freshman in high school. He began playing piano when he was 5 years old, and also plays the guitar and flute. He currently makes bass music, a genre of digitally produced club music.
Lemly goes by the producer name ‘Daash,’ and released his first full length album, ‘We Run This,’ last summer. The eleven track album contains heavy sound design, which Lemly spent eleven months working on. The forty-minute-long record was completely written, engineered and arranged by the sophomore.
“On any record that I’m working on, I feel like I have to do as much on it as possible,” Lemly said. “That way, I can be totally proud of my effort at the end of the day.”
Bass music is a relatively new genre, which drew Lemly’s attention. Because the genre is constantly evolving, Lemly said the bass music community is very open to new sounds, which gives him the freedom to be creative.
Lemly uses music-making as a way to connect with others and to express his angst with the world. As for the future, Lemly doesn’t think that producing music is a viable career option for him and only considers it a hobby.
At UP, Lemly’s new freedom and independence in college has allowed him to think more creatively.
“If I hear a certain element of song like a chord progression or a melody and I know I can do something similar to it, I want to,” Lemly said. “Just knowing that something is very much within your reach is really inspiring.”
Carlos Fuentes is a reporter for The Beacon. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.