Students in the Arts


At a time when access to music and songwriting software is both easy to use and cheap, it doesn’t take connections and living in Los Angeles to make and release one’s own music. As the music industry continues to grow in accessibility and becomes an even more competitive field, there are students, still in high school, who work on their music after school, honing their skills. Some even perform. 

“I make anything I vibe with or anything that happens on the spot,” senior Juan Van Der Merwe said. “I kind of listen to everything, from reggae and some indie songs like Mac DeMarco and Hotel Ugly.”

Influenced by his family and friends, Van Der Merwe has been playing music from a young age. He was first introduced to the guitar when he was five by his father.

“My dad gave me his mini acoustic guitar and showed me some cords,” Van Der Merwe said. “I would make songs every day and learn new chords and stuff by moving my fingers around more.”

Although he mainly plays for fun, to experiment with different genres and cords, Van Der Merwe has released a couple of songs, “half-moon” and “addiction,” under dreamboyjuanv on SoundCloud. 

“I have actually been working on an album for quite some time now,
Van Der Merwe said. “I don’t have any mixers to record my voice and guitar, unfortunately. Once I get one, I should be releasing the album.”

But Van Der Merwe is not the only musician on campus. Inspired by the likes of Arctic Monkeys and Red Hot Chili Peppers, senior Marshall Lundsberg and junior Sebastian Afsar formed Blackmoore, a pop-punk band that has gone so far as to open a local gig. Lundsberg plays both bass and keys. 

“I have been playing music now for about six to seven years,” Lundsberg said. “I really like the songwriting aspect of playing music. It allows me to put my creativity into something I’m really passionate about.”

Blackmoore started as a fun project between friends, all united by a shared love for music and punk. The band has been working on an album for some time, having released two singles, and even had their first concert at a local bar and grill.

“We are very excited to release our first album,” Afsar said. “Our two singles that have been released are ‘Burning State’ about a city being overtaken by riots and ‘To My Grave’ about a long lost love.”

Whether for fun or for performance, Van Der Merwe and Lundsberg, among many others, use music as a platform for creative expression. In music, they find peace, fun, joy, and excitement. 

“I just love that I can be me when I do it,” Van Der Merwe said. “I make music that I like and its basically my 5-hour therapy sessions.”