“I can’t leave because I put you first,” Palo Alto High School senior Caleb Chan softly croons in his most popular song “Put U First,” which recently hit 100,000 streams on Spotify. Chan — known musically as DeCC Official — is a producer and composer.
Michael Najar, audio production and choral teacher, said being a music producer can mean many different things.
“In music and audio production we dabble in all of those [music producing] realms,” Najar said. “They [Paly audio production students] are the artist sometimes, they’re the producer sometimes and then they are the engineer or mixing artists sometimes.”
Some of Paly’s student producers have taken the next step in their musical career: publishing their work.
Chan comes up with the theme of his songs with personal anecdotes from his life. For example, in one of his songs titled “Escape Room,” he used the idea of people trapped in a relationship and used an escape room to examine the parallels between the two.
Chan has grown his style of music through the influence of other artists and creators; one particular artist he is inspired by and looks up to is singer and songwriter Charlie Puth.
“I was at a class at Berklee School of Music and he [Puth] came and I got to see him produce live,” Chan said. “That was really inspirational for me just to see people can just do this.”
“It gives me less time to waste. I feel like just before I just hop on YouTube or video games or something like that. But now I just get on to music and … I’m making something that [will] influence my career rather than just [my] temporary enjoyment.”
— Caleb Chan, senior
Chan started out his music career playing the guitar in fifth grade, and then in eighth grade started releasing music on SoundCloud with his friends.
“Even then, I already knew I really wanted to take it [music] somewhere,” Chan said. “Not just for fun, obviously it was really fun, but in my head, I wanted to take it somewhere.”
Chan started recording himself singing, then was introduced to music editing software, and combined his voice and guitar to create songs.
“Once I started finding my own sound, I really liked to sing more and my songs are more meaningful,” Chan said. “I feel like as a songwriter, it’s helped me be more emotionally aware of things, of people and their experiences.”
Looking forward, Chan plans on applying to the Berklee School of Music. Pursuing music has benefited Chan’s life, adding a sense of purpose and direction to his daily routine.
“It gives me less time to waste,” Chan said. “I feel like just before I just hop on YouTube or video games or something like that. But now I just get on to music and … I’m making something that [will] influence my career rather than just [my] temporary enjoyment.”
Senior Anirudh Bharadwaj, or NRDH, took his passion for music beyond playing a traditional instrument, to producing music of his own.
Bharadwaj’s musical journey began eight years ago when he started playing the piano and guitar.
“I always wanted to take what I already knew and make new stuff from it,” Bharadwaj said. “On a trip to India, I was on a road trip with my cousins when they exposed me to electronic music, and since then, I’ve been down the music production route.”
Bharadwaj has produced music that has been played on online radios and YouTube videos of mainstream artists such as Martin Garrix, Oliver Heldens and Don Diablo
“I believe that anyone who wants to make music should, and nowadays most of the tools to do so are very accessible. I’m living my dream working with artists I look up to everyday, and I hope to have a global impact with my music to make people happy around the world.”
— Anirudh Bharadwaj, senior
“I primarily produce electronic music for my own projects, but when I produce for others it can range from pop to R&B to rap,” Bharadwaj said. “My tastes are always changing but I’d say the two people I consistently look up to are Coldplay and Kendrick Lamar.”
Before his songs can be made, Bharadwaj creates a sample, or a basis set of sounds that will drive his production process, typically by utilizing physical and digital instruments. He then finishes the sample using elements such as mixing that helps the different sounds meld together cohesively.
“I always have a vision for how I want the track to progress,” Bharadwaj said. “For example, if I’m going for more of a show tune, then I’ll intentionally build [the sample] off of specific elements but if I want it to be a banger, I’ll use distortion to create more aggressive sounds.”
“I am extremely grateful for all the opportunities that have come my way, but you can never ease up. I regularly reach out for feedback and strive to constantly improve, and that’s what pushes me to make better music.”
— Anirudh Bharadwaj, senior
Bharadwaj found success with his “newcomer” track or debut release, “Ain’t Even Trying.” This became the 3rd most played newcomer track at parties, radios and clubs the week of February 11, 2021 when it was launched according to 1001Tracklists.
Though already accomplished as a producer, Bharadwaj aims to better himself going forward.
“I am extremely grateful for all the opportunities that have come my way, but you can never ease up,” Bharadwaj said. “I regularly reach out for feedback and strive to constantly improve, and that’s what pushes me to make better music.”
Bharadwaj hopes to continue producing music in college.
“I believe that anyone who wants to make music should, and nowadays most of the tools to do so are very accessible,” Bharadwaj said. “I’m living my dream working with artists I look up to every day, and I hope to have a global impact with my music to make people happy around the world.”