Michelle Chen ’24 Releases First Single “Coffee Shop”

A love song about a peer, Michelle Chen ’24 compares the exhilarating feeling of crushing on someone to the jitters experienced after a cup of coffee in her newly released single, “Coffee Shop.” Chen was inspired by late nights spent thinking about her close friend, with whom she visited a Harvard Square coffee shop.

“I workshopped it over the summer to be about people I’ve liked in general and linking
the feeling to what it feels like after you drink coffee. I make a lot of subtle references to inside jokes that we have… I say something about ‘caramel-colored eyes’ and she has hazel eyes,” said Chen.

Chen produced her song on LogicProX, recorded at Cybersound Studio in Boston, and released the song on Spotify on September 30. April Arabian ’24, a friend of Chen’s, appreciates listening to Chen’s music because she is a newer artist who highlights emotions familiar to high-school students in her lyrics.

“I am not a songwriter myself, but [I] definitely [enjoyed] branching out into seeing some other artists who are not as mainstream, listening to her song and really enjoying how raw and real it felt, in comparison to a lot of other songs that do not have that emotion behind them. It inspired me to branch out and try different music than what I usually listen to,” said Arabian.

Throughout the writing process, Chen experienced both excitement and frustration as she struggled to compose her vulnerable feelings into words. After her song was recently released, listening to her single now often elicits self-criticism.

“I’m very perfectionistic so even now when I listen to it I can hear the parts that could have been better. That’s a struggle because I always want it to be better. But it’s already out, there’s nothing I can do about it and it’s never going to be perfect enough for me,” said Chen.

Her opinion of her progress on “Coffee Shop” fluctuated, as stated by Arabian. It took time, and Chen describes the production process as similar to creating a sculpture, hoping to capture the original idea in the final masterpiece.

“It took me a while because when I write a song I have a vision of what I want it to sound like. It’s like making a sculpture; you have an idea of what you want it to look like but you have to take away all of the extra material,” said Chen.

Chen has felt a deep connection to music since childhood, and after releasing her first single, she feels more confident in the future of her songwriting, despite some of the initial doubts regarding “Coffee Shop.”

“I’ve written a lot of songs, but I’ve kind of kept them to myself, either because I think they’re cheesy or I don’t have the energy and time to record them. I’m happy with the general reaction to this song. It makes me feel optimistic about releasing an EP (extended play) or more songs in the future because I have a lot of those in store,” said Chen.