Student bands embrace love of music


Chloe Fatsis

After school one day in October, juniors Vincent Kamani and Nadeem Elamine decided to head to the Tenley music store Middle C. They invited their friend, junior Jack Davis. In the atrium, they ran into sophomore Nevis Gatti, who also came along. “It was just so random,” Kamani said. 

At the store, the group experimented with the different instruments at the front. “We were jamming,” Kamani said. On the Metro ride home, they figured, why not start a band? Eventually, they decided on a name: House Party.

Learning to play instruments, collaborate, and produce music have always been key elements of high school bands. Some bands are short-lived, others last for years. Two members of the hugely successful rock band Fugazi were friends at Wilson in the 1970s, and both were involved in the punk music scene here. It’s unlikely that House Party or Starving Middle Class, another current Wilson band, will last that long, but if one thing is certain, it’s the camaraderie and joy each band carries.

For the members of House Party, forming a band has been a long time coming. In middle school, three of the bandmates were in a rap group. Those three also played music informally with the other now-band members. 

When the bandmates were going into high school, they talked on the video chat app Houseparty every day. “Houseparty all the time,” Elamine stressed. Once they had the name, they started an Instagram page, @houseparty.official. In addition to Kamani, Davis, Elamine, and Gatti, junior Max Ellenbogen and sophomore Esther Nachbar-Seckel are also band members.

Now, the group is working on producing music. “We’re 90 percent done with like 10 songs,” Ellenbogen said. The other band members laughed. “We’re like 50 percent done with like three songs,” Kamani corrected. 

Kamani explained that he and Ellenbogen have already written one song. “Me and Vincent are just a little bit ahead of the curve from the rest of the band,” Ellenbogen joked. Theme-wise, the group’s music will focus on the “teen experience.” “We’re teenagers, what else would we talk about?” Kamani said.

Ellenbogen, who Kamani described as “OC at instruments,” would like to make a career out of music, as well as Kamani and Davis. As far as roles go in the group, all except Nachbar-Seckel are involved in music production. Nachbar-Seckel, Davis, and Kamani are vocalists, Ellenbogen is the lead guitarist, Kamani plays piano (“well enough”), and Elamine plays the drums. They all songwrite. 

“That’s the beauty of House Party,” Ellenbogen said. “We can all come together and put our musical differences together.” Gatti added, “We all have different… musical perceptions, we just hear different stuff, so it’s interesting what we could make together.” 

The band’s current challenge is raising money for recording equipment. “We’ll figure it out. We always just figure things out,” Kamani said. 

They anticipate releasing an EP around February. “I was going to say December, and then I was like no,” Nachbar-Seckel said with a laugh. “Definitely not December,” Kamani emphasized. “We could release a single in December, maybe.” Look out for their music on Soundcloud and Spotify. 

Sophomores Andrew Dong and Owen Bradley-Meal started Starving Middle Class, an alternative rock band, last winter. Since then, they have released one album and one EP on Soundcloud. “It’s just a really fun thing to do with your friends,” said sophomore Taylor Lewis-Richardson, a featured vocalist. 

Some of the Starving Middle Class members started learning their instrument when they joined the band. Sophomore Duncan Kanach picked up the drums after the former drummer switched to playing the ukulele. “I sort of realized I want to do that more, so I started practicing more, getting better,” he said. 

Andre Kidder-Luciano, also a sophomore, thinks their songs have been well-received. “I think most people love it. They find it really soothing and really interesting,” he said. The music covers a wide variety of topics, with song titles like “fbi” and “i am from denmark.” “A lot of the songs on our SoundCloud are pretty chaotic, and a few of them were kind of jokes,” Kanach said. 

Starving Middle Class practices are usually for brainstorming, not so much rehearsing songs they’ve already written. It’s a casual environment; band members sit in the basement on the guest bed and the stairs. With Kanach on the drums, Bradley-Meal on the ukulele, and Dong on electric guitar, they come up with the instrumentals for a song. 

When Kidder-Luciano shows up a half hour later, they decide on the subject matter of the song. Generally, they improvise the lyrics, and this time is no exception. After some deliberation, they decide to title it “marry me,” with the lyrics being a conversation. The spoken-word vocals are typical of Starving Middle Class’s songs.

“[Practices are] usually fun, usually pretty relaxed. We’ll take breaks every now and then, maybe go out to the grocery store, get some drinks,” Kidder-Luciano said. “Wawa runs before every band practice are a must,” Lewis-Richardson added.