Students Making Their Own Music
Sean Green Raps as Young Jeroh
Sean Green (‘23), a.k.a. Young Jeroh, sits on the National Mall to record a music video for his song “Phases” / Credits: Sean Green
In eighth grade, Sean Green (‘23) was producing rap beats in his room for fun. Four years later, Green is rapping under the name Young Jeroh, and he’s planning to attend New York University next year to study at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. But how did he accomplish this and get into one of the best music schools in the country?
Like most of us, Green found himself with more free time during the pandemic. His freshman year was cut short due to COVID-19, and all of his sophomore year was virtual. Despite the challenges of life during online school, Green was able to use the new free time to lean more into his interest in music. “In quarantine, I started waking up every day and making a new song, dedicating a lot of time to it, and I got much better quickly,” Green said.
One day, as Green worked, he thought, “What if I started singing or rapping on these beats?” He challenged himself to develop his skills as a rapper, while still producing beats. Over time, Green has become a talented rapper and producer known as Young Jeroh. Green said that his music “is very hip-hop-based, but takes a lot of elements from R&B and pop music as well.”
Green’s latest song, “Phases,” is very different from his other works — it blends a catchy guitar strum over slower melodic vocals from Green to create a perfect example of his beat-making and rapping strengths. “Phases” dissects Green’s ambition to continue pursuing success in spite of the factors against him. “It was a big step out from the more fast-paced hip-hop I normally make, so I found it hard to come up with lyrics,” he said. “Eventually, though, I was able to find a groove and record it and also film a great music video.”
Although Green is a talented lyricist and rapper, he emphasized the importance of his beat-making background. “One of the most underrated values of learning how to produce music is that it gives you a great ear for rhythm and melodic structure that would otherwise take years of musical theory structure,” he said. This unique perspective on music and Green’s drive to improve make it clear why he’s headed to one of the best music schools in the country this fall.
Isaac Viorst and the Radio Relics
Matthew Ashman, left, on drums and Isaac Viorst (‘23) on electric guitar / Credits: Isaac Viorst
Isaac Viorst (‘23) had been playing guitar most of his life, but in eighth grade, his passion for music grew when he leaned into his songwriting. Viorst said, “I found that when I started writing my own songs, music was much more interesting.”
Following this, Viorst and his friend Matthew Ashman decided to start their own band, the Radio Relics. Unlike most traditional bands, the Radio Relics is only comprised of two members. Viorst plays the guitar and sings while Ashman plays the drums.
The pair created the band in ninth grade and it has changed a lot since then. Viorst recalls the band was “first called Steal Teel, which is a terrible name, and we changed it to Radio Relics in the 11th grade.” He added that “Radio Relics is a beautiful name cause we like to write old music like 70s rock-funk music — that’s our style.”
Viorst views the band’s smaller size as a strength. “What makes our sound interesting is just the chemistry between Matthew and me. We’ve literally been playing with one another for seven years,” he said. “Because it’s just me and Matthew, we’re able to jam with no limits.” The Radio Relics currently have one song out on streaming platforms, titled “Recognition.” The original song has a slow instrumental build-up into smooth electric guitar from Viorst with a blend of modern alternative rock and indie sounds. The graceful delivery of lyrics in the song displays Viorst’s talent as a songwriter and a vocalist.
Despite its smooth and catchy sound, Viorst calls it “our worst song.” He explained, “The song we have out right now on Spotify is the most boring one. It’s a very classic rock kinda sound, but I would say that could be from any other band — any band can steal that style.”
Although “Recognition” is the only song the band has released, Viorst says that the pair has “been sitting on an album for over a year now.” The album consists of 12 songs and would include the already-released “Recognition.”
In addition to that, Viorst says that “Matthew and I have our own style and I think that comes through on a lot of the songs on the album.” Viorst hopes to show everyone that unique style when the album is released next month.
Despite his talent and passion for music, Viorst hasn’t put a definite answer on his future with music in college. His bandmate Ashman is headed to New York University to study at the Clive Institute of Music. “I got into the University of Miami and it has a similar program to the one at NYU,” Viorst said. “If I do end up going to Miami, I think music will still be a major part of me, so it’s really just a question of where I go to college that will put me on track for where my music goes.”
The Sauna Studios Sensation
From left: juniors Lily Turcotte-Keen, Tillie Freed, Ishan Hsu, John Wood and Naima Akers, covering Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You” / Credits: Rami Noursi
Sauna Studios started as a place for musicians to record and collaborate with one another. It was established by John Wood (‘24), who houses the recording studio in his basement.
The first two Walls musicians to record at the studio were Naima Akers (‘24) and Ishan Hsu (‘24). Akers had posed the question “what if we do a cover album?” to Hsu for weeks, and Sauna Studios was the perfect place to perform their covers at.
That question ultimately led to the pair, along with Wood, to record various songs together at Wood’s house that weekend. In one of their first takes, the group performed an acoustic cover of Norah Jones’s “Don’t Know Why.”
The trio added a soothing quality to the 2002 pop hit with Akers on vocals, Hsu on electric guitar, and Wood on bass. The trio’s music seamlessly flowed with one another, making for an easy take. Hsu said, “It was a very spontaneous process and honestly pretty casual.”
The group said that they didn’t view themselves as a band, but rather as just friends hanging out and playing music.
After the group recorded in Wood’s basement, Wood uploaded the recording on Instagram under the username @sauna_studios_. Since then the page has amassed over 5,000 views with nearly 2,000 views on the “Don’t Know Why” cover alone.
As of late, more Walls musicians have been playing at Sauna Studios, including juniors Lily Turcotte-Keen and Tillie Freed. The newest upload is a cover of the 1993 song “Fade Into You” by Mazzy Star, with Turcotte-Keen and Akers on vocals, Hsu on guitar, Wood on bass, and Freed on the egg shaker.
In addition, other musicians from Walls have used the studio to record their own projects. Seniors Oliver Anderson and Malcolm Douglas performed a jazz cover of the classic song “In a Sentimental Mood” by Duke Ellington.
Following the success of the page, Wood believes there’s more to come for Sauna Studios. “I’m assuming we’ll keep on doing covers, but writing songs should be the next step,” he said.
The group also explained their ambition to play for a live crowd and insisted that it would work well for the type of music they make. Hsu said “so far we’ve played a lot of jazz,” and Wood adds “it’s very calm and smooth, it’s very easy to listen to.” The three of them all agreed that this smooth and calm jazz sound would be perfect for an intimate crowd to connect to.
“Springtime is perfect for live shows,” Akers added.