Tag Archive | "alumni"

Farewell from Your Editor


By Caleb Hsu

Entering unfamiliar territory is always a daunting task, especially when you feel isolated and left to your own devices. College is an exciting time that can initially overwhelm freshman because they’re exposed—oftentimes for the first time—to tastes of what it’s like being a functioning individual amidst a planet vastly larger than themselves. Newfound freedom, uncomfortable social situations, unexpected self discoveries, and academic challenges all present themselves simultaneously to create a whirlwind of confusion. I remember feeling small, almost like I was witnessing snapshots of life whiz by at light speed. I transferred to Berklee as a piano principle from the University of Florida as a dual major candidate studying classical clarinet performance and cognitive psychology. I knew nothing about jazz, and I felt out of place surrounded by internationally trained pianists. Instead of facing my fears and externalizing the self-doubt I experienced entering Berklee’s campus in the heart of Boston, I initially shrunk myself down and retreated. Nevertheless, I found a way to overcome this suffocating feeling of defeat by taking control of my own circumstances.

The first thing you should know is that it’s alright to feel alone and it’s even expected. Talk to someone about it! This will reposition that negative energy and enable you to channel it into something productive. Berklee is filled with resources that help ease the transition period from being an outsider to feeling confident and capable. Obviously, your peers are a fantastic option to connect with since they can directly relate, but don’t neglect reaching out to your professors. Not only do Berklee faculty and staff offer career-defining insight, they also offer realistic advice to help navigate your way through adulthood as a musician. Berklee professors can become indispensable lifetime contacts if you proactively seek them outside the classroom. One visitation during scheduled office hours can lead to a connection that can jumpstart your entire career.

The most advantageous bit of advice I can offer is to be proactive and get involved in areas that interest you as soon as possible. In my first semester, I signed up to be a contributing writer for The Berklee Groove, which quickly led to a full-time student supervisor position, trained to be a BIRN DJ, which led to getting hired as the BIRN’s Communications Director, attended countless seminars and club meetings, and sought out individual tutoring and mentoring sessions offered by the Learning Center, which led to being offered a position to teach. The networking potential is unlimited at Berklee, and you should take advantage of every minute you’re here!

Specifically working with The Groove has equipped me with more skills than I could have ever anticipating walking into the position of Staff Writer. I cultivated verbal and communication skills that landed me professional positions outside the college, and tightened my grasp of the complex English language. This helped immensely with polishing classroom essays, completing project reports, writing formal cover letters, and establishing working relationships with my peers. The Groove offers students a platform to share their unique perspective with the estimated 3 billion people who now have access to the internet, enabling their voice to be heard and stories to be told. One of The Groove’s missions is to provide a window for outsiders to get a glimpse of what attending the top music school in the world is like.

Having attended countless concerts, seminars and events, interviewed numerous artists and industry professionals, and developed various other content, I’ve not only grown as a writer, but I’ve also grown as a person. Writing expresses who you are as an individual, forcing you to mold your thoughts and beliefs into tangible words and phrases. Utilizing your senses to recreate a situation for unseen readers presents a unique challenge that is both stimulating and rewarding. Best of all, writing for The Groove provides numerous opportunities to do (anything), to be (involved), to ask (anything), and to learn (everything) — all while equipping you with the necessary cognitive and verbal skills to function as a musician, an adult, and a part of human history in the making. Music tells a story, a collective narrative through the voices of people about the human condition, and the desire to unify and love. It’s a conversation you want to be an active part of.

Keep in mind that college is all about discovering yourself and striving to meet your full potential, while balancing all of the considerations students encounter. Plan out a monthly schedule, leaving time for just you. Don’t isolate yourself, but don’t be afraid of being alone. Give yourself space, work ahead on projects, collaborate with peers in different majors than your own, and carve out time away from music to enrich and cultivate your personal growth. Venture outside Back Bay; explore the surrounding towns and even states. Never underestimate sources of inspiration, and set realistic, incremental goals for yourself each step of the way. Know that music is art, and understand the importance of developing an appreciation for all art forms during your time at Berklee. Seize opportunities to work alongside others from every race, religion, cultural heritage, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age, gender identity, and orientation because at the end of the day—we’re all just people… People whose lives matter and whose stories should be told. Lastly, enjoy it—be in the moment every moment. It goes by faster than you’ll ever know!


Posted in Advice, Alumni News, Extras, Featured Articles, Letter From The Editor, News, OpinionsComments (0)

Berklee Hosts its 10th Annual SXSW Party: Boston and Beyond

SXSW pic

By Margot Edwards

Berklee College of Music, the only college to host an official party at the SXSW Music Festival, presents its SXSW Party: Boston and Beyond on Thursday, March 19, noon – 8:00 p.m., at Brush Square Park West Tent, located at 409 East 5th St. (Neches and 5th), Austin, TX. Berklee’s 10th annual SXSW Party is presented by The Red Room @ Cafe 939, Alumni Affairs, Heavy Rotation Records(HRR), and media sponsor Vanyaland.

Vanyaland will stream the event at Vanyaland.com and at VanyaRadio.

The party features up-and-coming Berklee alumni and students performing rock, pop, electronic, Americana and folk. Artists include Joy Daniels, Avers, Hooka Hey, O Conqueror, Grey Season (HRR), The Ballroom Thieves, Night Lights (HRR), Radclyffe Hall, Yellerkin, and St. Nothing.

Check out this playlist featuring the artists here: [soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/playlists/83921722″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

This year, Berklee has added a second stage for acoustic sets. Students Rachael Wolff, Lady Rogo, and Jacob George, and alumnus Oliver Monaco will perform in between bands. They also play on Saturday, March 21, at the Berklee Guitar and Songwriting Showcase [2:00 pm, St. David’s Bethel Hall].

Berklee’s SXSW Party: Boston and Beyond is all ages and open to SXSW badge holders. The public can emailsxswrsvp@berklee.edu to attend free of charge.

Artists in order of appearance:


Joy Daniels is a Los Angeles-based alumna singer-songwriter and producer who fuses innovative hip-hop and passionate vocals to lyrics and music that explore the complexities of the human spirit. Daniels has released albums including Electric Soul Music and Joy After the Rain, and has performed recently with Stevie Wonder, Sam Smith, and Bastille in concert and TV appearances on The Ellen Degeneres Show, The American Music Awards, and Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Avers, from Richmond, VA, are psychedelic pop, blistering garage rock, and fuzzed-out shoegaze all in one. With their amps cranked high and their voices doused in reverb, Avers brew a spacey swirl. The group formed with Head and the Heart’s Tyler Williams on drums and James Mason, James Lloyd Hodges, alumna Alexandra Spalding, Adrian Olsen, and Charlie Glenn swapping between bass, guitar and keyboard. Their debut, Empty Light, came out in 2014.

Hooka Hey, from Austin, TX, plays heavy grooves steeped in the blues. Its smoky, sludgy sound is dense and charged like an approaching rainstorm. The band is composed of Alex Kane (bass), Hugo de Saint Quentin (guitar), Jesse Houghton (guitar), and alumnus Ethan Yeager (drums). KUTX’s Austin Music Minute said of Hooka Hey, “There’s a reverence here for the kind of serious rockin’ out that leaves you sweaty, grimy and wanting more.”

O Conqueror was formed in 2012 by songwriter Dustin Doering (vocals) in Austin, Texas. It has since become a collective endeavor consisting of Justin Green (guitar), Mike Fisher (bass, backing vocals), Pedro Corsetti (drums), and alumnus Alex Hartley (keyboard). The group is preparing to release its second album, on which it promises a melodic journey of catchy brooding hooks folded into ambient folk with elements of delta blues and psychedelic western.

Grey Season (HRR) perform five-part harmony, blues-rooted guitar solos between wholehearted lyricism, and memorable melodies driven by bouzoukis and banjos. Benny Grotto (Dresden Dolls) and Grammy–winner Justin Guip produced its debut album at Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, NY. The group is composed of Ian Jones (bass, vocals); alumni Jon Mills (guitar, vocals, Irish bouzouki) and Matt Knelman (guitar, vocals); and students Chris Bloniarz (banjo, piano, mandolin, vocals), and Ben Burns (drums, vocals). Grey Season appears on HRR’s Dorm Sessions 10. Listen at SoundCloud.com/HeavyRotationRecords.

The Ballroom Thieves – Devin Mauch (percussion), alumna Calin Peters (cello), and Martin Earley (guitar) – blend folk conventions with modern hymnals, and delta blues with rich harmonies, exploring the basic constructions of pop music while also rejecting its restrictions. Supporting their debut, A Wolf in the Doorway, The Ballroom Thieves will open the next Boston Calling Festival featuring Pixies, My Morning Jacket, and St. Vincent.

Night Lights (HRR) brings together students and alumni with a world of indie, rock, and soul influences, striking a balance between profound lyrics, hooky melodies, and danceable music. Yusuke Sato’s intricate riffs, Drew Story’s warped soundscapes, Jeff Kinsey’s melodic bass, Dag Hanken’s colorful rhythms, and Mau Jiminez’s captivating guitar and other-worldly voice effects combine for an audio adventure. Night Lights appeared on HRR’s Dorm Sessions 9. The band’s forthcoming EP was produced by Griffin Rodriguez (Beirut, Modest Mouse).

Radclyffe Hall – alumni Dhy Berry (keys/vocals), Jaqui Rae Stewart (keys/vocals), and Carl Harkness (drums), and student Sean Camargo (drums) – began as an experiment in analog and digital production and coalesced around founder Berry’s groove-heavy compositions and dance-pop aesthetics. In their recordings and live shows, Radclyffe Hall has solidified an indelible sonic signature of pulsating live and programmed beats, ethereal vocals, and fuzzy bass lines.

Yellerkin is a rising indie duo from Brooklyn comprised of Adrian Galvin and alumnus Luca Buccellati, childhood friends who have known each other for over 20 years. Originally from the woods of Katonah, NY, they reunited after college, helping one another to yell their stories of love and family. Yellerkin released their debut self-titled EP in 2014, which features the single “Solar Laws.” The duo recently opened up for Dr. Dog and is preparing to release new music.

St. Nothing is a string-driven electropop group consisting of Marco Lawrence (singer-songwriter, producer), Sophia Carreras (guitar), Meredith Nero (viola), Jenna Calabro (cello) and alumnus Felix Nicholson (drums). In the past year, the group was nominated for two Boston Music Awards, opened the Boston Calling Music Festival, and performed with artists like Juana Molina, Young Galaxy, Alpine, and Freezepop. The group is working on its debut album.

Vanyaland is a Boston-based online music magazine, alternative radio station, and lifestyle brand. An interactive source for music news, live shows, new releases, downloads, live streams, and nightlife around Boston and beyond, focusing on the bands raised in our city but also welcoming to the touring acts that pass through it daily. Since its launch in May 2013, it has become the fastest-growing and most-read music website in New England, combining breaking news with artist profiles and snapshots that provide the reader with both music and video embeds and links in addition to its daily original content.

VanyaRadio: A live 24/7, non-stop radio station broadcasting from the heart of Boston, Massachusetts, VanyaRadio provides the sound to the stories featured on award-winning digital music magazine Vanyaland. From breaking local talent to finding the next global chart-topper, VanyaRadio’s playlist suits the modern music consumer who never misses a beat.

Posted in Alumni News, Berklee News, Clubs/Organizations, Featured Articles, Heavy Rotation Records, News, Student News, Upcoming EventsComments (0)

2014 Berklee Commencement T-Shirt Competition Winner

Class of 2014

Submitted by Kevin Fish

Designing a t-shirt that all 2014 Berklee College of Music graduates would receive may seem like an intimidating task, but one senior, Victor Sing Kong, rose to the challenge.

Berklee College saw the opportunity for a new type of tradition for students and immediately utilized the creative potential of the student affairs team. This idea yielded the first ever 2014 Berklee Commencement T-Shirt Competition, where students were challenged to submit a design that would be voted on by their peers. Submissions started pouring in mid-October and continued through February. Once a committee of college administrators selected the finalists, students graduating in 2014 were offered the opportunity to cast their votes.

Voting concluded on Friday, March 7 with a clear victor: Victor Sing Kong. Not only will all graduating students wear Victor’s design, but he is also the recipient of an iPad Mini. Fellow student and design entrant, Eva Redamonti was also a finalist. With nearly 300 votes, it is clear that Berklee students agree, “We all speak in MUSIC.”

Posted in Featured Articles, News, Student NewsComments (0)

12 Things We Hope Berklee Freshmen Have Learned by Now

Dear Berklee freshmen,

We know, you probably already get Berklee advice all the time. But since we’re graduating next week, we wanted to leave you with the top 12 things that we wish people would have told us when we were in our first semester. With the help of fellow seniors, recent grads, and successful alumni, here is is our ultimate list of practical Berklee survival tips and must-read nuggets of wisdom.

1. In case you haven’t noticed, attending the top music school in the world isn’t cheap. Don’t waste your (or your parents’) money — get your butt out of bed and go to class!

Bonus tip: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Grab a free peer tutor or go to your teachers’ office hours. Recent grad Seth Jones and senior Isaku Kageyama both agree that developing relationships with your professors is super important.

Even if it’s a 9 AM and you’re this sleepy.

2. You get out of Berklee what you put into it. The college offers tons of resources and opportunities to help you get your career started ASAP, but it’s up to you to actively seek them out. Senior Jeff Kinsey puts it bluntly: “All of the ingredients are here and accessible, but no one’s going to just gift wrap and hand them to you.”

Go to it. 921 Boylston, first floor.

Go to it. 921 Boylston, first floor.

3. Money gets to be really tight in college, so always keep an eye out for and take advantage of on-campus events with free food! (Hint: We at The Groove love having free food at our events, so make sure you stay in the know!)


4. We’ve all felt it: that moment you first step foot in a practice room hallway, and your confidence is torn to shreds as soon as you hear all the talent coming out of every single freaking room. But take it from us: If you start making comparisons or judgments, you’re going to drive yourself absolutely crazy. Remind yourself that you were accepted to Berklee for a reason. Focus on what your goals are and why you’re here.

If you want to be a songwriter, don't compare yourself to someone who wants to be a concert pianist.

If you want to be a songwriter, don’t compare yourself to someone who wants to be a concert pianist.

5. Believe it or not, being well-rounded will be a huge advantage to you both personally and professionally. Go explore life in Boston and pick up some new hobbies outside of music! Try photography, graphic design, ultimate frisbee, writing, coding, yoga — whatever sparks your interest!