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13 Soundfly Student Works That Blew Us Away in 2018

The new year is a blank sheet of manuscript, fresh and crisp, and ready to be draped in the luscious ink of bottomless creativity. It’s a brand new audio track in a session that’s only just been created — empty, optimistic, and waiting for someone to hit record.

So will you take up the challenge? Will you answer the siren song of artistic possibility?

For most of us, the idea is thrilling, but daunting; inevitable and intimidating. It’s overwhelming, yet appealing. If you’ve stopped reading, we’ll assume it’s because you felt compelled to get up out of your chair and create something immediately. If you’re still here, it may be that it’s all becoming too much. So let us soothe you, dear reader, by looking back at some of our favorite Soundfly student works of 2018.

If you’d like to work with one of our Soundfly coaches yourself, whether via a mentored online course or a personal goal-oriented Headliners Club session, just tell us a bit about yourself and your musical goals and we’ll find the right program for you! Now, here are the tracks that blew us all away in 2018, and a little bit of commentary on just what makes these works so magical to our ears.

“Questions”

Student-Artist: Emily McCullough
Course: Unlocking the Emotional Power of Chords
Mentor: Joseph Capalbo


Emily is well on her way to writing and producing some great original material. This piece has all the elements you would want to hear from a songwriter/producer looking to build those sills. A well-defined and nicely laid out form, well-voiced chords that lay a great harmonic foundation, and some great melodic content to bring it all together. Very excited to hear what’s next!

“Somewhere Else”

Student-Artist: Ritwik Desphande
Course: Beat Making in Ableton Live
Mentor: Sam Friedman

Ritwik has gone above and beyond in creating a beautiful sonic space with this track! His use of the pedal point in the bass brings a ton of suspense and allows for a very gradual build which eventually gives way to a subtle, yet sophisticated release. The sound design is phenomenal and the piece is overflowing with melodic and rhythmic ideas. This is one of those tracks that your ear might catch something new with every listen, so be sure to give it a few spins.

Start Again EP

Student-Artist: James Garside
Course: Headliners Club
Mentor: Sam Friedman

Musicians, songwriters, producers — whatever we may call ourselves, all have a common goal. Every single one of us wants to create in our own voice; we want to build a sound that is ours alone. With that in mind, it’s incredibly inspiring to hear what James has created with his Start Again EP. It’s no small feat to come out of a Headliners Club session with an EP sounding this good. Congratulations to James and a big shout-out to his mentor, Sam, for helping see this through! I’ll be spinning this record for a while to come, with my personal favorite so far being “Leave It Behind.”

“Dark Despair”

Student-Artist: BA The Rebel (Blake Aina)
Course: Headliners Club
Mentor: Sam Friedman


I can’t quite put my finger on who I’d love to see featured on this track, which to me means Blake has something pretty unique going on. There are trap elements with the way he treats the hi-hat, but the bass sits a little sweeter in the mix than a typical trap-style banger. The emphasis on different elements of the track shifts throughout, and each addition or subtraction is treated beautifully. I particularly love the treatment of the Rhodes that first appears at 0:15 in the track. I really started to feel myself sinking into this one on each listen. Well done, Blake!

“Torpedo”

Student-Artist: Calluna (Euan MacMillan)
Course: Unlocking the Emotional Power of Chords
Mentor: Joseph Capalbo

Euan has written a really beautiful piece here. He’s demonstrating an increased command of harmony while using it to write a great song, and that is no small feat. Check the I min7 to IV maj7 in the first four bars. That’s a very interesting texture and has the possibility to be overused a bit, but Euan uses it tastefully before moving through some well-connected chord changes and then hitting us with a truly slammin’ guitar riff.

“Week 2 Idea”

Student-Artist: Grayson Starling
Course: Headliners Club
Mentor: Ian Temple/Sam Friedman

If I bobbed my head anymore to this track, I’d be sending Grayson a medical bill. This tune is loaded with unique percussive elements, great sound design, and some beautiful melodic content. The thing I really love about this track is that I can hear certain influences coming in and out, but I can’t pinpoint any — a sign that Grayson has a voice unique to himself (the ultimate goal of making music, in my opinion).

“Intimate Expanse Part 2: Evoking Emotion (museum audio guide)”

Student-Artist: Diane Hope
Course: Headliners Club
Mentor: John Hull

Diane really brought this piece to life with some fantastic artistic choices and really solid mixing. I am completely blown away that she essentially began this session from square one. Though I’ve never been there, listening to this, I feel completely transported to Kane Ranch and surrounded by its natural beauty. The pacing and editing here is perfect, and the choices are so incredibly imaginative. Well done, Diane!

“Shed My Skin” / “Lifeboat (Tasman Sea)”

Student-Artist: Feiloka (Shasha)
Course: Headliners Club
Mentor: Mahea Lee


I must confess, I was in the back of a van cruising through the Arizona desert, heading home from a six-week tour, when I first heard these songs. Sometimes it isn’t always whether a song is perfectly produced, written, or performed that makes an indelible impact on the listener, but rather their surroundings that link them to a tune forever. Shasha’s “Shed My Skin” really hit me, hard. It is beautifully sung and performed, deeply pensive, and written truly from the heart. Just when I pulled myself together after a few spins, “Lifeboat” played and knocked me right back out. Incredible songwriting.

“dangling”

Student-Artist: soayla
Course: Unlocking the Emotional Power of Chords
Mentor: Joseph Capalbo

Soayla’s voice is incredibly unique and it really shines on “dangling.” It’s breathy yet clear, and sits perfectly in the mix. I absolutely love how much she has gotten out of a minimal amount of instrumentation here, and every part feels right at home in the track. The form is well constructed and I really dig the subtly abrupt ending. Well done!

“Quicksand”

Student Artist: Andrei Marica
Course: Faders Up I: Modern Mix Techniques
Mentor: Martin Fowler

I started listening to “Quicksand” to get a sense of Andrei’s mixing skills, as that’s what he came to Soundfly to improve. It took no time at all before I shifted from listening to analyze the track to listening as a fan of a really great song. The mix is so on point and clear; every part is exactly where it needs to be. It is really hard to write a great rock song that uses odd time signatures without feeling jarring. “Quicksand” features bars of 7/4, 6/4, and even 5/4 at times, and moves seamlessly between them. The songwriting dictates the use of odd time and not the other way around, which gives this song such a strong sense of continuity throughout. This one will be in my ears for a while to come.

“Revenant”

Student Artist: Kylie Couper
Course: Faders Up I: Modern Mix Techniques
Mentor: Martin Fowler

Listening to “Revenant,” I can imagine a snowy landscape and mountains surrounding me as the sun sets in the distance. Trees reaching up to the night sky, trying to meet the stars. This piece is so utterly imaginative that I can’t help but be transported somewhere beyond my apartment in Los Angeles, so I owe Kylie a huge thank you. As with all of Marty’s students, this track is artistically mixed to give the listener a complete experience. Deserving of a big-budget film score for sure.

“THE EDge”

Student Artist: Lisa Reshkus
Course: Headliners Club
Mentor: Raven Katz

The attention to detail in this track is stunning. Subtle additions as the song progresses kept me completely engaged as a listener and brought a level of excitement to an already great piece. Lisa’s voice is supported perfectly by the production, and the songwriting is imaginative and ambitious all the way through. I loved the treatment of the synths as well, using the cutoff as as an opportunity to build suspense as needed. Lisa’s onto something very special here.

“Advanced Harmony Final Project”

Student-Artist: Ben Harris
Course: The Creative Power of Advanced Harmony
Mentor: Martin Fowler

This one is an absolute banger. Ben uses some interesting non-diatonic chord changes that move in sophisticated yet well-connected ways. To my ear, he clearly has a firm grasp of applying advanced harmonic devices. There’s even some nice use of chromaticism thrown in as well. The goal of our Advanced Harmony course is never to simply show that you have the ability to use these techniques, but rather that you have the full palette of harmony available to you, so your creativity can be limitless. Ben is well on his way to being a musical version of Bradley Cooper in, you guessed it, Limitless.

Ready to reach your musical goals?

Our Soundfly mentorship program is built on our belief that accountability and guidance can have a huge impact on helping students reach their goals and develop their musical identities. We currently offer mentorship with nine courses, including those mentioned above, as well as the Headliners Club. Our mentors are passionate, experienced musicians with a shared love of personalized learning and artistic curiosity. You can find more information on our courses here or by reaching out to [email protected].

*If you think you have what it takes to be a Soundfly Mentor, learn more about the program here.

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Carter Lee
Carter Lee

Carter Lee is a bassist/educator/producer. He is originally from Edmonton, Canada and now resides in Brooklyn, NY. In addition to leading the hip-hop group, Tiger Speak, Lee is the music director for the bands of both Shea Rose and Moruf. He is also a sideman for countless other artists. Carter brings his wealth of experience in many different musical situations to the Soundfly team and is eager to help any musician who is hoping to better their band. Check out his course Building a Better Band on Soundfly today!