KUST, the St. Thomas student-run radio station, celebrated the release of its CD “UST Sampler Vol. 1” in front of a packed house at Scooter’s Tuesday night.
Junior Holly Dockendorf, KUST project manager, said the group modeled the project after Cities 97’s sampler CDs. Designed to give student musicians and KUST exposure, the 10-track disc exclusively features music written and produced by Tommies.
“There are so many talented musicians here that nobody knows about,” Dockendorf said. “The fact that these are all original songs is mind-blowing to me. This is their hard work, their emotions, their heart and soul that they pour into this music, and to share that with everyone is so rewarding.”
While the sampler seemed like a simple idea at first, Dockendorf said the group got a first-hand lesson in how hectic the music business can be.
“We knew it would be a lot of work, but we never would have thought there would be so many of the tiny details that go into a compilation CD,” Dockendorf said. “The legal aspects of it all and the actual recording process and getting 10 musicians in the same room at the same time. It was hard.”
The musical styles on the sampler range from heartfelt acoustic ballads to sonic electronic instrumentals. Tuesday’s event showcased all 10 songs, with most artists taking the stage to perform live.
Freshman Ava McFarlane opened the show and the CD with a soulful acoustic number called “Through the Wine.”
“I did a lot of coffee house performances in high school, but this was the first time that I had been up in a really long time,” McFarlane said. “It was nice to show all of my friends what I can do.”
“Through the Wine” was McFarlane’s first foray into songwriting after her friend, junior Nick Meyerson, challenged her to write a song over Thanksgiving break.
“I’ve been writing books since I was little. I’ve been writing poems. I’ve been writing plays, but I just can’t write songs. I don’t have it in me,” McFarlane said. “And Nick Meyerson looked me dead in the eyes and said, ‘You go home over Thanksgiving break, and you write something because it’s nuts that you can’t write a song.’”
Freshman Ness Reliford, who goes by the moniker Ness Nite, closed out the show with a hip-hop track that she produced herself.
“I wasn’t sure how my style was going to fit in with the rest of the music, but I think it worked well at the end,” Reliford said. “I produce all of my own stuff, and I’m just grateful for everyone embracing my style. I’m so happy to have had this opportunity.”
The night’s co-emcee Macauley Garrett said she hopes to see the sampler become a KUST and St. Thomas tradition in years to come.
“You see a lot of other departments at St. Thomas celebrating their students, and to celebrate the music department here is really cool,” said Garrett. “We have some freshmen on the KUST executive board, and we will make sure they keep it going.”
Through the chaos and stress, Dockendorf and KUST never lost sight of their main focus – the music.
“This is where it starts,” Dockendorf said. “This is the beginning. These people are so talented. We have to help and support them now so they can continue to grow.”
Zach Neubauer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.