Students create music, foster creativity during quarantine

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of AJ Abdullah | Daily Texan Staff

“Does it Ever End” isn’t just a question the world has been asking for the last seven months. It’s advertising senior AJ Abdullah’s newest indie-pop single.

“(The song) was definitely inspired by current events,” Abdullah said. “Quarantine was really starting to get to me. You can tell in the song I question the future a lot.”

Abdullah has released nine songs in the past two years, six of which have been featured on Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlist. His single “Does it Ever End” was played on the radio station KERA last week. He said music is a perfect creative outlet for self-expression because it’s so personal. 

During quarantine, artists like Abdullah have utilized the extra time to create music as a way to cope with the pandemic.

“It was literally the only way I stayed sane,” Abdullah said. “I didn’t put the pressure on myself to release songs. I just took the time to make strides in improving my musical skills, like playing the ukulele.” 

Abdullah said he usually writes light music with fluffy lyrics, but “Does it Ever End” is more straightforward and his most depressing song. 

“Quarantine definitely served as a catalyst for this song,” Abdullah said. “I was already feeling these emotions for a while, but (the pandemic) helped me reach my boiling point quicker.”

Before COVID-19, Abdullah would perform sets in coffee shops, but he said he likes making music more than performing. Quarantine has allowed him to increase his following on Spotify and Apple Music. 

Quinn Changus, a vocal performance and Asian cultures and languages sophomore, also focused on growing her audience during quarantine from her home in Atlanta, Georgia. In May, she started posting a cappella clips of her singing on SoundCloud. Over 12,000 people listened to a clip of her upcoming song “Cherry Blossom.”

Changus is collaborating on “Cherry Blossom” with Jack TerryWhite, a music sophomore who is producing the song while Changus is contributing vocals. TerryWhite said their inability to work together in person delayed the song’s release date. 

“We started working on it in May,” TerryWhite said. “Recording vocals was tough because we were in different states using different equipment. It’s been a really interesting process, and I think it’s helped me grow as a producer and collaborator.”

Both Changus and TerryWhite have solo careers. Changus released her first song, “Pink or Blue,” on Sept. 9 on Spotify and Apple Music under the name Qlue, while TerryWhite has released five tracks since January. He plans on debuting a pop album called The Pink EP at the end of October. 

When making music, Changus said she prefers to sing a cappella or play piano to accompany herself. The producing process doesn’t interest her as much.

“I usually spend at most 10 minutes on a SoundCloud clip, so actually producing a full-fledged song is hard for me,” Changus said. “I just like to sing, but I’ve taken the first steps to learning how to produce music during quarantine.”

TerryWhite, however, said he is skilled in multiple musical areas. He plays the bass, keyboard, drums, guitar and can sing. He also enjoys producing and editing music.

“It’s a really satisfying feeling listening back to my work and being like, ‘This is a world I crafted myself,’” TerryWhite said. 

Each artist said they don’t create music for the money but play with the hope of their music impacting others.  

“There are few things in this world as rewarding as human connection, and we have to find new ways to share experiences,” TerryWhite said. “In art, there’s a saying that limitation breeds creativity. It applies now more than ever."