So I like making music. I play piano, electric guitar, and sing, and I make my own beats too. I don’t have the greatest voice nor the greatest musical talent, but I love making covers of my favourite songs, because it’s a chance to experience them on a deeper level. Some of my biggest influences are Daniel Caesar, Rex Orange County, John Mayer, Still Woozy, Radiohead, and the Foo Fighters, in no particular order.
I also write my own music under the name ‘star anise’ on Spotify!
“Daydreaming” — star anise
My first original song! “Daydreaming” is about love and hope and wearing your heart on your sleeve. It’s inspired by the shimmery, optimistic indie-pop sound of Bleachers, Dayglow and Smallpools. I wrote, recorded, and produced the track using both real instruments and software instruments, with help from my long-time friend Yifan. It was a challenging but overall super fun experience of musical perfectionism, slowly letting go of that perfectionism, and jamming out to an awesome song and just vibing. My goal was to write a song I wanted to listen to, and I’m happy to say that’s true! Listen to the full song on Spotify or YouTube music.
Here are 5 of my proudest covers:
“Broke & Sad” - Post Malone
A cover of Rich and Sad by Post Malone. I wasn’t really a big fan of Post until his album Beerbongs and Bentleys came out this summer. There was just something fresh in every single track that was at once really hype but also the sense of a sound that was completely new. Post himself said that he doesn’t like to corner himself into any one genre, and often mashes together different musical styles, pushing the frontier of what’s considered hip hop. He also has an amazing singing voice in addition to his rapping voice, which is a killer combo. For this cover I wanted to embody the high energy drop right before the chorus in terms of production, as well as test the limits of my vocal ability, and I’m pretty happy with how both turned out. I just had a lot of fun adding little things like the guitar loop and the background coffeehouse noise. The 808 doesn’t show up well on laptop speakers though, and I have yet to figure out how mainstream music achieves that…
Belly (The Grass Stains) - Rex Orange County
My friend Michelle introduced me to Rex OC this summer and he instantly became one of my favourite artists of all time. His chord progressions and melodies are so interesting and familiar at the same time. The emotions and thoughts he sings about in the lyrics are also really relatable to me, as an awkward hopeless romantic. For some reason Belly was the song that I latched onto and became obsessed by. I loved the simplicity of just the keyboard + voice and the mysteriousness of the lyrics and the title - why is it called Belly? I decided to film a video for this one outside in my backyard, and actually recorded it out there too, so there’s some trees rustling in the background.
Get You - Daniel Caesar + Redbone - Childish Gambino
Daniel Caesar is probably my favourite artist right now, and has been since my chemistry lab parter told me about him back in 2015 when he was still relatively unknown. His music is the type of music I wish I could write! Get You was one of the songs that propelled Daniel Caesar into the limelight and make him famous basically overnight, and for good reason! At once funky, nostalgic, and romantic, who would’ve thought we’d get to be in the same generation as this guy? This cover was inspired by a mashup of Get You and Redbone that I saw on YouTube by a phenomenal singer “JamieBoy” and keyboardist/producer Nick Pacoli that I was completely blown away by. I also added a little bit of Deluca - Ruby Empress since the chords on guitar reminded me of it. This was also my first attempt at making a beat so I didn’t really know what I was doing but I felt really cool making it. I like the bassline too
First World Problems - Chance the Rapper + Daniel Caesar
When I saw this collab on Colbert, my initial plan was to record the instrumental and find someone to rap over it. But when I was putting together the beat, I liked it so much that I decided to write some of my own bars. I tried to emulate Chance’s style but it is just so natural. His rhythm and the power of his lyrics are so unique, and I just love everything he’s been putting out. So yeah this was my first attempt at rapping, my favourite line is “life been crossing me over, broken ankles lately”
Weird Fishes (Arpeggi) - Radiohead
One of my top three favourite albums is In Rainbows. This song especially because the beat is just so interesting and the sound is so vast, you really start to swim in the great depths of the sea amongst the weird and terrifying creatures there. Some cool things I tried on this one in terms of production was an arpeggiator synth sound a la Snakehips, adding a lot of reverb and delay on everything to recreate that spacey sound, and using Logic’s Drummer tracks for the first time.