Monday, October 14

UCLA students create, produce innovative electronic music for YouTube

Second-year undeclared student Will Hammer produces "Live Session" videos in which his friends film him performing his songs.  He has released three films so far on his YouTube channel GARLYN. (Axel Lopez/Daily Bruin)

Second-year undeclared student Will Hammer produces "Live Session" videos in which his friends film him performing his songs. He has released three films so far on his YouTube channel GARLYN. (Axel Lopez/Daily Bruin)

Will Hammer doesn’t like to describe his music – he prefers to have listeners draw their own conclusions about the music’s sound, as he draws inspiration from an assortment of different genres and sounds.


“I’m just trying to make as much music as I can because that’s really what I enjoy doing,” he said.

Hammer, a second-year undeclared student, is in the midst of producing “Live Session” videos. In the videos, which he records under the name of GARLYN, he performs one of his own songs, looping together his own instrumentals on a variety of instrument  from his keyboard and violin to an electric guitar  in order to add a visual component to his music with a group of his friends.

Nathan Wise, a second-year economics student and one of the cinematographers on the “Live Session” videos said he and Hammer are working to produce and release the videos on a weekly to biweekly basis. The videos are filmed in a single film take and showcase Hammer performing a song solo which he composes shortly before the production of the video.

Since April, Hammer and a group of friends have been working together on his “Live Session” videos – three have so far been released through his Youtube channel. Hammer said that he wanted to produce the “Live Session” videos as a way to get out content faster than he had in the past; it used to take him months to finish a song, but because he’s releasing content on a regular basis now, he has to write songs much more quickly.

“A lot of producers nowadays, no one really knows what they look like, what their real name is (or) what they actually do to make the music,” Wise said.

Hammer began his foray into playing music when he was 5 years old, initially learning how to play classical music on the piano. When he was 7, he said that he wanted to branch out and learn how to play the violin and the guitar, on which he played Celtic and rock tunes. In his “Live Session” videos, Hammer still plays these instruments.

Hammer began producing electronic music in 11th grade when he downloaded a demo version of Ableton Live, a software used for music production, and his older brother gave him a MIDI keyboard. Hammer said his brother thought that his training in classical music and general songwriting abilities could transfer to making electronic music.

Originally from New York, Hammer said moving across the country to California for college forced him to meet new people and have new experiences, which provided him with inspiration for his music. Recently, he and his friends went on a trip to Tijuana, Mexico, which sparked the inspiration for a song he recorded in a “Live Session” video called “Plaza del Zapato.” In the video, Hammer and the film crew went to Olvera Street in Downtown Los Angeles because he felt that the area’s Mexican influence would match the song’s melody which fuses Latin-inspired tunes with trap music influences.

Hammer’s brand of electronic music is particularly impressive because unlike many other electronic music producers, Hammer actually plays the instruments that he uses in his music rather than using lots of computer-generated sounds, said Oliver Micklewright, a second-year economics and Chinese student, Hammer’s friend and one of the cinematographers for the “Live Session” videos.

“We want to show how he can whip up a song pretty quickly by using a lot of loops on his computer, but he’s also playing the instruments live to record those loops,” Wise said.

In the video for his song “Moving On, Leaving Behind,” Hammer plays looping riffs on his guitar and keyboard while bobbing to the rhythm of the song atop Boelter Hall.

“We knew we wanted to get somewhere where you could get kind of a rooftop vibe for the song … and Boelter just came to mind,” Hammer said.

They weren’t sure the video would work out – they were afraid they might get kicked off the roof – but Hammer said everything turned out smoothly in the end.


Hammer said he doesn’t like to use specific genres to describe his music as he tries to blend as many different genres into his music as he can, citing classic rock and dance music as major influences on his sound.

He avoids listening to lots of producers on SoundCloud because he finds that it leads to his music sounding more generic.

Hammer has only played one show to a live audience before, in New York City. He said that although he played some of his own music, much of the performance consisted of playing remixes of other people’s songs. Hammer said while he enjoyed DJing, he is looking forward to having more of his own original content to perform to his audience.

“I’m always going to be making music and writing songs,” Hammer said. “I love making my own music.”


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Quad editor

Warner is the editor of the Quad. He was previously the assistant editor for the Music | Arts beat of Arts during the 2017-2018 school year and an Arts reporter during the 2016-2017 school year.

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