The studio in the basement of the Hess is a lesser-known location on campus that only around fifty students utilize. Pierson L’Esperance ’17 and Jackson Cohlan ’18 are two students who often use it to produce original pieces. L’Esperance has been taking studio lessons since his 9th-grade year at Deerfield and has spent the past two winters partaking in music exemptions and Cohlan began taking after school lessons in the studio with Mr. John Van Eps this winter.
“We start by analyzing mixes and tracks they like, then I show them how it was done.
[Then] we recreate a facsimile of the track, [and] after that we take what they learned and create a totally original piece,” explained Mr. Van Eps.
L’Esperance and Cohlan spend multiple hours a week working on their music. Cohlan describes the work as “dangerous” because “you can’t stay in [the studio] for less than two hours.”
The studio contains all equipment that can be found in a professional recording studio, allowing students to experiment with the genre of their choice. L’Esperance and Cohlan’s first works included manipulating samples of existing songs, which is a great starting point for amateur music producers as little background knowledge is required.
L’Esperance added, “The fun part about doing this is that we can take a 10 second clip of a song we like and turn it into something with a totally different vibe.”
Despite the long hours spent in the studio, the students are not yet ready to share their work with a wider audience. Their greatest challenge, as with all studio artists, is the process of mastering. L’Esperance explained, “[Mastering] is essentially just making sure that the sound is consistent through any output. It’s a long process… You could perfect a track in the studio, but if it’s not mastered, it’ll sound incredibly different on another set of speakers.”
L’Esperance went on to explain that the learning curve for sound engineering and mastering is very steep. It takes years to perfect the art of mastering a track; for the students, time is the enemy. Nevertheless, it doesn’t stop them from making music.
Mr. Van Eps stated, “The studio is not a space for playing YouTube loudly and socializing with friends; rather, it is a place for dedicated students to work on creating original music.” However, the studio is open to anyone who receives introductory training and has approval from Mr. Van Eps.