Music inspires the soul and allows listeners to feel joyful and free, and behind every piece of inspirational music lies a songwriter and a story. Throughout spring quarter, columnist Kaitlyn Peterson will sit down over tea with UCLA singer-songwriters to explore their musical goals, personal inspirations and what makes their songs so special.
Drew Drysdale named her album “Into the Grey” because she wanted to give listeners a glimpse into her gray matter – her mind.
I had the opportunity to experience the complexities of her soul myself when I sat down with the sixth-year history student on a beige couch in her apartment living room. A large blue tapestry hung on the wall behind us, adding a peaceful backdrop to our conversation.
Drysdale finished her album in December 2015, and released it this year to SoundCloud in January and to iTunes in March. The album consists of 10 songs that reflect existentially on her life and provide positive music in light of her personal setbacks.
Drysdale was fascinated with classic productions such as “Les Misérables” and “The Phantom of the Opera” as a child, yet she kept her musical side to herself because of her involvement with track and field, she said.
However, she stopped participating in track and field and began to focus on music more in college. At UCLA, Drysdale performed with a band called Ickyridge Stoop and joined the a cappella group Awaken A Cappella. She said performing and being surrounded by people who loved music inspired her to create her own individual music.
But the singer that musically inspired her the most is her grandmother. She remembers humming alongside her while she walked around her grandmother’s house. When Drysdale was alone in her own house, that humming became singing, and her mom’s trips out of town became a time for her to belt her heart out.
In 2015, she found out that her grandmother had fainted in church, which inspired her and a friend to spontaneously write “Forget the Things,” a jazz song contemplating death and the afterlife. Although her grandmother is still alive, Drysdale wrote it as if she would never see her again.
“There are so many things and scenarios you think about … like what you could’ve done in the past,” Drysdale said. “All you really have is love in that instance.”
A day after writing the song, Drysdale met with what she calls her writing group – a gathering of UCLA alumni and Los Angeles residents in the music industry. Within five minutes, they began recording the full song. She and her writing team then wrote nine more songs, which were completed after about six months.
However, Drysdale waited to release the album for more than a year, since she couldn’t find a time when she felt comfortable releasing it publicly.
“It’s lyric-heavy and not necessarily pop-y, but it’s something that really came out of pure feelings,” Drysdale said. “I didn’t stick to form, and I tried for the music to really reflect my moods.”
The album starts and ends with the voice of Drysdale’s father, Don Drysdale, who died when she was 3 months old.
Back in her apartment, Drew Drysdale got up and flipped through a row of vinyl records and pulled one out that her friend had shown her.
On the cover is her father – a former pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers – and the words “Don Drysdale’s Bullpen.” The U.S. Army promotional record consists of 20 tracks featuring her father telling stories about the army and encouraging listeners to visit their local Army representatives.
Drew Drysdale converted the record to a digital format to include snippets of her father in songs of her own album, such as “Blue Dream” and “Peculiar.” In “Peculiar” Don Drysdale says, “This is a peculiar world we live in; it’s full of twists and surprises, and sometimes the end of a story is a long way from where it started.”
“I was paying a homage in a way,” Drew Drysdale said. “He is a huge part of who I am, and it made sense.”
As part of her history honors thesis and a tribute to her father, who loved baseball, Drysdale wants to interview attendees and see what makes ballparks so special to ticket holders. Drysdale will sing the national anthem this summer at several local stadiums in the Major League Baseball organization.
She plans to perform release shows and other gigs for her album in the fall.
“(Music) is something that intrinsically is part of me, and it’s really who I am,” Drysdale said.
Listen to some of Drysdale’s favorite songs: