BLS Producers Share Their Music


Students create and release music on streaming platforms. (Source: Spotify)

By Yongyu Qiu (II) and Harrison Tran (II)

In recent years, music streaming apps have especially spiked in usage, and most users are growing tired of their overplayed songs and dry playlists. Despite the impact of COVID-19, the music industry has grown in the past year as more artists produce music to bring people together.

Diverse platforms have increased creative opportunities to share, create, and release music. Stephen Snekvik (I) and James Testa (I) are among the many who have taken the initiative to transform their passion for music into reality.

Previously, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in many people being confined to activities within their homes. Snekvik and Testa were no exception. During a COVID-19 lockdown, they found more opportunities to explore a new project –— making music. What started as a hobby became something serious as they developed their skills over quarantine. Both produce some of their music digitally, using FL Studio and GarageBand. When asked about the muses for their music, both students said that they were inspired by their favorite artists and genres, which were mainly hip-hop and rap.

Snekvik, who released an album earlier this year, has always had a musical background. He is a part of the jazz band and plays the trombone at BLS. During the pandemic, Snekvik taught himself the drums and started building beats in GarageBand, a beginner-friendly digital music production program.

When making his album, Snekvik used both live recordings and digital sound. Snekvik says of his work, “I wanted it [to be] a collection of what I’ve been doing but not like any serious album, like a concept album or something like that.” That speaks for the creative album cover and song names such as “Me and Your Father” and “Steve’s Theme,” which turn out to be his favorites too.

Snekvik’s brother, Mark Snekvik (IV). helped Snekvik produce the album.  He describes the process: “First, he gets an idea for a ‘vibe’ he wants his next project to have, whether it be a genre, a rhythmic pattern to follow or a melody that gets stuck in his head. He then creates a basic structure of the song and decides which different instruments to feature.”

On the other hand, Testa, the president of BLS Electronic Music Production (EMP), would have never imagined making it as far as he had by doing what he feels passionate about.

Music has given Testa a sense of passion and purpose that he felt was lacking previously. This allowed him to find his sense of direction and produce music with well-known hip-hop artists including Polo G, 21 Savage, NLE Choppa and more. Having been inspired by artists he was listening to at the time. Testa embarked on his process of creating music by first learning to play the piano.

Over time, Testa started building his own sounds and experimenting with more genres through FL Studio. He proceeded to work on what is his current favorite piece of music, “Unapologetic,” by Polo G and NLE Choppa, which ended up changing his life. Testa explains, “It [ended up] getting me my first Platinum Record, Billboard No. 1 Charting album and also helped me to build a lot of connections in the music industry as well.”

Behind this success was a lot of hard work, especially when Testa was first starting out. He not only had to produce good music but also network with others in the music industry. Testa’s talent is impressive indeed, considering how much he has accomplished in a short period of time.

All musicians have to start somewhere. Both Snekvik and Testa want to emphasize the importance of patience and persistence. It takes time to see progress, but this should be expected. To those who want to produce music, Snekvik says, “Don’t worry about being the greatest musician or producer because everyone has something new that they could bring to the table.” He advises that one should instead try to have fun creating music and using it as a creative outlet.

You can find Snekvik on Spotify and Apple Music under his name, Stephen Snekvik. He plans to release another album in May or June. You can find Testa on Instagram @prod_twizz or at his club, BLS EMP, in the music wing’s computer lab every W block.