With a cheap microphone from Best Buy, a wooden stand and some blankets used to absorb sound, Chase O’Halloran ’18 and his friend set up a makeshift recording studio in his room when he was 14. Rather than recording music continuously, the pair had to spend most of their time taping together the blankets, which kept falling down and knocking the microphone over. These informal recording sessions, which O’Halloran described in an interview with The Phillipian, inspired his love for producing music. Now O’Halloran writes rap songs frequently and has released two albums on SoundCloud.
“I wrote my first rap when I was 12. I was just messing around. I sat down for an hour and just wrote things that rhymed and they’re hilarious, looking back at them. I think I still have some sheets hidden in my desk. I just wrote on and off sometimes, just rhyming things, and after a while, it developed and it was more about putting this word with this word and saying what I felt. It developed over time, but it definitely took a while,” said O’Halloran.
Chase O’Halloran ’18 began studying at the Music Resource Center (MRC), a teenage music school in Charlottesville, VA., in 2014. After just one year at the MRC he learned much more about the professional music production process.
“[At the MRC,] you can find people from anywhere in the city, but we all have something in common, and I like it a lot in that way,” said O’Halloran. “There are some really great people. My mentor, Damani, taught me everything about music and recording, and everything else too. I met a lot of really great friends there, a lot of really cool people.”
While O’Halloran initially disliked hip-hop, he became more exposed to the genre and noticed how much he enjoyed the lyrics and beats. Now, he loves to listen to and write hip-hop and rap music.
“The first [hip-hop] song that I heard was a Lil Wayne song… I think my friends played it for me, and I ended up liking it on my own just because of the lyrics. Because in a lot of other genres, you can say a lot with not a lot of words, but in hip-hop, they are blatantly stating things. I think that appealed to me. It can be somewhat poetic sometimes, as well,” said O’Halloran.
O’Halloran’s personal life experiences inspire the songs he creates.
“I have to say that the things going on in my life [are] … what motivate me to [keep writing],” said O’Halloran. “Honestly, I feel like I have to make music. If I don’t, I feel like I don’t know what I am doing. It is easy to get lost and go through the week without anything at the end of the week to show for it. When I make a song throughout a week, at least I will always have this one memory of what I did.”
O’Halloran released his first musical project on the free music-sharing website, SoundCloud, last year. The album, entitled “Duo,” contains a melange of emotion. The beginning songs are more happy and upbeat before progressively becoming more melancholy. O’Halloran has also released “Left from the Past,” on SoundCloud a compilation of some of his favorite original songs.
“I’d always had the ‘Duo’ concept in mind. It changed ten different times as I continued to record and develop these songs,” said O’Halloran. “I was just looking for a way to release the first project because I thought it was time.”
O’Halloran releases his songs on SoundCloud under the name “Set Record.”
“I went through a lot of names for a while. People make their name something that represents something to them but it can change a lot or doesn’t mean the same [thing] anymore to the person. Set Record is the most ambivalent. It can take whatever meaning you want it to take. I like it in that way because it is really vague. I saw this fact somewhere that the word ‘set’ has a 100 pages of definitions or something like that. I think I will stick with it for a while,” said O’Halloran.
In addition to continuing producing and writing songs, O’Halloran hopes to increase his music knowledge and skills while at Andover.
“There is a lot going on [at Andover] so there is a lot to write about. Also, there are a lot of ways to learn and options for taking lessons, options for all these different ways to improve your musical skill. There are options for songwriting lessons, so that could be interesting to kind of see what those do,” said O’Halloran.
To listen to O’Halloran’s two albums, visit his SoundCloud: soundcloud.com/setrecord/