Artist of the Issue: Alexis Chang ’21
Alexis Chang ’21 has been involved with music for as long as she can remember.
From piano lessons at the age of four, to coming out with her own song “Inspired” earlier this year, she’s spent countless hours into following her passion for music.
Chang said that playing piano was “the start of my music career, but I really started to love creating art when I was fifteen. During my gap year, I discovered how much I loved creating art and how much I knew about it.” Before that, piano lessons had “felt like an obligation, but during that gap year creating art became such a huge emotional outlet for me. That’s when I really started loving music production and writing music.” Chang got involved in music as a way of “finding myself in a way, as cliche as that sounds. I had the time over my gap year to reflect on my own life and discover things about myself that I didn’t know before. During that year, I didn’t have much to talk about with my friends because they were at school while I was at home, so I put a lot of those feelings into my music. Whenever I’m feeling some type of way and I don’t necessarily want to talk about it, I’ll write about it or I’ll make a beat about it.”
When Chang arrived at Hopkins in seventh grade, she created a short-lived band as a way to get to know people. Although it didn’t last long, it gave her inspiration to create the band she is currently a member of, Omnia, in her freshman year: “ I just wanted people who would create and appreciate art with me.” Chang also makes music with other students from Hopkins, including Kaila Spearman ’21 and Ranease Brown ’21. “They love the same music that I do and have similar stories to tell through music, so we’re making an album together next summer. Music has formed some of my closest relationships at Hopkins, and I couldn’t be more grateful for that,” said Chang.
Chang thinks that the impact of COVID will change the flow of her music. “My band tends to practice after lunch in the band room, but we’re most likely not going to do that anymore. We’ve been practicing in my garage for a concert which has actually been so nice and works so much better than I expected but it’s still hard because we’re in different weeks.” The hybrid model will affect other aspects of art at Hopkins that Chang is involved in. She said, “A capella is a huge part of the art I do at Hopkins, and we’re trying to figure out how to do that, but it’s tough because we have to be together to hear each other to learn the songs we’ve picked out for the year. It’s funny because this year we have to be six to twelve feet apart when, usually, we’re all huddling over one laptop together. It’s definitely going to be a challenge.”
A lot of people influence and inspire Chang to make art everyday. “My parents are particularly big inspirations, my dad especially. My dad is so encouraging all the time and he’s my biggest hype man. He’s the first person I showed my song ‘Inspired’ to. We were driving back from this road trip we went on and he kept telling me to replay it. He’s just my biggest supporter,” said Chang.
Chang is also inspired by many other music creators. She is a big “Chloe X Halle fan right now. Like I’m obsessed with them. Also Beyonce. Her harmonies just get me every time. The album me, Kaila, and Ranease are working on have a lot of harmonies inspired by her because she’s an artist we all love.” Chang explained that a lot of her music-making process is inspired by elements of music from other artists: “That’s what my art, or my element, is. Taking different aspects of things I like to listen to and modifying and bringing them together to make something I can call my style.”
Chang described the process of writing her song “Inspired” as one of the fastest creative processes she’s ever experienced. “Art usually goes one of two ways for me. Either I’m in a creative block and it takes me a couple months to finish one song or I’m feeling super inspired and have all my ideas and creative juices going through my head and I can make something in like a week. ‘Inspired’ was the latter. I had the beat done after various live streams I do on my music Instagram, @changstermusic.” She continued, “This song happened because I was in a new space after being in my house for quarantine for four months. I was staying with someone in my family, in their house, and just being there and being in that space made me feel so inspired and motivated. Being in that new space made my head feel so fresh so I decided to write everything that was going on in my head down and twenty minutes later I had all the words to ‘Inspired.’ I recorded it immediately after that. I’d say about eighty percent of the song that’s out now I recorded that night in the first hour.”
Chang reflected on her journey as a musician: “My style has really changed over the years. I feel like I’ve come to my own sound. There was a time when I only did rock or alternative because that’s what I thought people wanted to hear, but I wasn’t really into it. Eventually, I started to change bits and pieces of the music to make it my own and something I enjoy listening to, instead of it just being for other people. I still play guitar, I just play different beats over it so it’s not necessarily a rock style. ”
For people that want to try their hand at creating and writing music, Chang said “Just be honest. Be authentic with yourself and what you want to make and don’t perform whatever other music people want you to make... Also be consistent. Practice will make you so much better.”