by Molly Mitchell / Lion Staff
About a month ago, senior Mimi Norton asked for possible topics for Music Discussion Club in the GroupMe, to which senior BJ White replied, “[Is] anyone interested in the music I make while should be doing homework?”
Later, I went up to BJ and asked if I could possibly talk to him about his music, and he enthusiastically responded “Yes!”
Molly Mitchell: When and why did you start playing/get into music?
BJ White: I first got into music when I was three years old. I took piano lessons.
MM: Do you remember what the first tune you learned was?
BJW: Hot Cross Buns. Definitely.
MM: Can you describe your first instrument?
BJW: I never had an actual piano until about 9th grade. My mom got a keyboard for herself, but I always snuck into her room and played it.
MM: What are your fondest musical memories?
BJW: Playing in the talent show with a few of my friends. It wasn't my song choice and I resented doing it leading up to the event, but it made me love performing in front of people.
MM: Is your family musical?
BJW: My parents were never really into instruments. My mom had a flute in middle school, but that's about it. She does love to sing, though. She has sung at multiple weddings and funerals, but sings mostly at church.
MM: Which instruments do you play/what kind of equipment do you use?
BJW: I can play the piano, drums, and a little bit of guitar. As far as producing goes, I just use this music software called Maschine and a cool drum pad that you can play different sounds on.
MM: Do you get nervous before a performance or a competition?
BJW: I do get nervous, but I've learned to love performing, so it's not as bad as it used to be.
MM: How do you handle mistakes during performances?
BJW: I’ve learned that mistakes are always going to happen, but most people won't know I've messed up unless I just completely stop playing, so I just keep playing.
MM: How often and for how long do you practice?
BJW: I'm in the Ellington Jazz Ensemble, so I officially practice for the songs I get in there about 45 minutes a day at least. Practicing making music on my computer is a whole different story. There is so much that goes into it that's beyond practicing. I spend many hours, searching for and finding new sounds and effects, seeing how they work, and blending them together as best as possible. When I have an idea for a beat I want to make, it will usually take at least a day for me to make it and more time after to perfect it to how I want it to sound.
MM: Do you write your own songs? What’s that process like?
BJW: Ha! Songwriting sucks sometimes. Every blue moon, I'll have this amazing idea and just write it out easily with the lyrics and good music behind it. And it'll be great! But mostly, I'll have a good idea and spend forever playing with it so that it sounds how I want it to, but then eventually just give up. I'm a perfectionist when it comes to this, so I take really long to finish songs because if the lyrics aren't perfect to me, I'll give up on it. On the plus side, though, the songs I've made so far have been really good because of it.
MM: As a beginner, how do you balance your music with other obligations?
BJW: I don't balance it as well as I would like. I end up staying up at night a lot working on beats and songs for my friends or other artists. It's so much harder than homework and more tedious, but it's so fun!
MM: As a relative beginner in the music industry, do you have any advice you would give to other beginners?
BJW: Don't back down from any challenge.
Most of what BJ does is related to music production. “I make a lot of music electronically using a software that gives me a wide range of very cool sounds,” he explained, “and the ability to take other sounds I hear from anything and turn them into instruments.”
One of his most popular instrumentals on his SoundCloud has a slowed down Drake song playing in the background, while recorded piano is also playing, and he made a singing choir sound like a cool drum set. “All mixed together, it sounds amazing,” he told me.
At the moment, BJ has a lot of things in the works. He says that he’s been working with a very good local artist on creating some songs, and it may or may not be out by the end of the school year. So, be on the look-out for that, and in the meantime, check out his SoundCloud at https://soundcloud.com/bjaywhite.