Deerfield alumnus Zibo Gao ’15 recently introduced his band, EVELINE, by way of social media. Earlier this month, the five-member band released their first two songs titled “Sail On” and “Those Shoes” on YouTube.
During his time at Deerfield, Gao was well known for his musicality, especially on the violin. A prominent member of the chamber orchestra and music program at Deerfield, he had been studying classical violin since he was five. In an earlier issue of The Scroll, he stated that to him, music is a form of connection: “I can feel the music really well. I can tell what the music wants to say to the audience.”
A freshman at Columbia University, Gao met his band members, Sias Merkling (guitarist), Bruce Young (guitarist), Nick Greene (bassist), and Marco Starger (drummer), through a common interest in music.
Gao had always hoped to start a band in college. When he found out that Starger was a drummer, the two of them decided to have a “jam session” together with another mutual friend. “Although our first jam session didn’t go well,” Zibo shared, “We decided to keep looking for guitarists and bassists.” After reaching out to Columbia’s community, they were able to finalize the group.
Both “Sail On” and “Those Shoes” have been receiving positive feedback, with over a thousand views for each song. “It was surprising to see equal amounts of likes for both songs,” Gao reflected. “But at the beginning, people are mainly curious and compliment the effort, so we’ll see how professionals evaluate those songs.”
The process of releasing their songs was not an easy one. The members had different visions for their songs and often had arguments due to their different personalities. Additionally, Gao said, “Columbia didn’t have a practice room or even a drum set. Most of the time, we just practiced in our dorm rooms.”
The most important asset that has helped the band’s vision come true is their secret sixth member, Paul Chang. Chang, who is in Gao’s Music Humanity class, is the producer of the band. “One day, I found out that Paul was actually a professional producer back in Korea,” Gao explained. The band recorded their songs in Chang’s dorm room, which is designed like a mini studio. They used a program called Logic Pro to edit the tracks. “[Chang] is no doubt the most talented musician I’ve ever met, and without him, the band would never be where it is right now.”
Although Gao has been devoting much of his time to his band, he still continues pursuing his passion for classical music. Currently, he is part of Columbia’s orchestra and plays in a Rachmaninoff Piano Trio. Gao explained, “Although I do prefer playing in the band, because it has more liberty and interaction within the team, the complexity and depth that classical music has is incredible.” Gao’s piano trio plans to perform at Carnegie Hall, one of the most prestigious performing arts centers, on April 16th.
Gao stated that “messing around in [Deerfield’s] music studio” helped him not only with songwriting but also with producing his own songs. Gao hopes that Deerfield students take advantage of the facilities and opportunities at DA:
“Deerfield provides you with everything you need before you come out to the real world and experience real problems,” he explained, “So make sure you make the best of it.”
EVELINE is currently working on an EP album, which will be released in early April, and recently won Columbia’s “Battle of the Bands” competition, which means they will be performing at at one of Columbia’s biggest spring concerts, Bacchanal, where artists such as Macklemore and The Chainsmokers have performed in the past.
Gao concluded, “I’m excited to see how the band will mature.”