Music, whether it is instrumental or vocal, solo artists or bands, is something that is widely enjoyed throughout humanity. It can bring people together, but during times of separation, it can also provide a great sense of individuality based on our respective musical preferences. Over the pandemic, many Berkeley High School (BHS) students have explored their musical interests and found unique artists that they enjoy.
Daniel Goellner, a sophomore in Independent Study, doesn’t have a genre label for his music taste, but defines it as, “anything that’s interesting and that you can listen to over again and find new things in it.” The newest artist to fit his criteria is Adrianne Lenker, a folk singer who is also a member of the rock band Big Thief. When it comes to Lenker’s solo music, his favorite album is Abysskiss. “It sounds really mysterious but in a magical way, you want to know more about it. It tackles some heavy subjects like love and trauma,” he explained.
Goellner also recommends Oliver Francis, who has been one of his staple artists since 2016. “The thing I like about Oliver is that he hasn’t kept one sound for over a year,” Goellner said. “He changes his sound all the time, it’s very inventive and interesting. He’s definitely not mainstream, but he’s a hidden gem type of artist with a really loyal fanbase. A lot of it is like chilled out hip hop music [that] you can drive with the windows down to.”
Rabiah Kabir, a senior in Academic Choice (AC), has a wide range of musical interests, including jazz, old school rap, classical music, and psychedelic rock. “I’ve been listening to a lot of Cypress Hill lately, they’re ‘90s rap,” she said. Kabir is more drawn to hip hop from the ‘90s than rap from today because of its use of sampling. “Cypress Hill does a really good job having solid baselines and rhythms, and that’s what entices me into their music. I can hear that they put a lot of care into their samples and the musicality of their rap,” she said.
When it comes to jazz, Kabir is currently listening to Charles Mingus, Yusef Lateef, and Sahib Shihab. “Yusef Lateef and Sahib Shihab are both flute players. I am a flute player myself and I really like their styles because it’s jazz, but it’s not super straight ahead and they kind of take it in their own directions,” she explained.
For Angelina Thomas, a sophomore in the Academy of Medicine and Public Service (AMPS), R&B has always been her go-to genre. Lately, she has been listening to the upcoming West Coast rapper and singer, Blxst. “I really like the beat he has in most of his songs. Some mainstream artists that are similar to him include Roddy Rich [and] Nipsey Hussle,” Thomas recommended. Blxst has also collaborated with more well-known artists like Tyga, Ty Dolla $ign, and Russ.
Despite her usual R&B interests, Thomas has also recently been listening to Chris Housman, an upcoming country singer who sings about progressive topics. “His newest song [called Blueneck] is about liberal beliefs and equality. I just discovered him last week, so I’ve been listening to him a lot,” she said.
Saskia Freedberg, a freshman in the Universal 9th Grade, doesn’t define her music taste by genre, but tends to listen to songs that are over 15 years old. Currently, one of her favorite bands is the Buena Vista Social Club. “They have really nice background music for homework. If you like songs in other languages, you might like Buena Vista Social Club,” she said. Freedberg also mentioned Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, who she has listened to since her childhood. “It’s really nostalgic and good because it’s four people singing really beautiful harmonies,” she said.
Another artist that she recommends is Bishop Briggs. “My favorite song by her is River. I feel like it is just really good to dance to,” said Freedberg. “If you like heavy metal or angry indie music, you might like Bishop Briggs. She gets really mad.”
For Lily Frost, a junior in Berkeley International High School (BIHS), her music taste consists of rock, R&B, alternative music, and folk. Recently, she has been listening to Sufjan Stevens. “He’s very chill, I can just put it on in the background,” she said. Another one of Frost’s current favorites is indie rock artist, Alex G. “I really like his sound mixing, I think it’s really interesting,” she said. Though these are her newest favorites, Frost never gets tired of the classics, adding, “In terms of who has shaped my music taste, it’s definitely Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and the Rolling Stones.”
Even in times of separation, music can be a shared experience. By giving and receiving recommendations, we can expand our musical knowledge and taste.