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High school friends aim to give memorable, visually rich performance as Mellowood

First-year theater student Luca Filiz (left) and first-year theater student Trent Lawson (left) met in high school to form their duo Mellowood. The pair’s original song “Wake Up” was written in response to their shared feelings of heartbreak. (Photo illustration by Kristin Pischel/Daily Bruin staff and Emily Dembinski/Illustrations director)

By Shubhra Dubey

May 16, 2021 4:06 p.m.

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly stated that Trent Lawrence and Luca Filz did not join their high school rock band. In fact, Lawrence did join the band.

This post was updated May 18 at 3:59 p.m.

Mellowood is ready to deliver an awakening.

Together, first-year theater students Trent Lawson and Luca Filiz form the singing duo Mellowood and will be performing their original song “Wake Up” for this year’s Spring Sing. The duo is eager to present Mellowood in UCLA’s artistic space and to connect with their fellow students, Lawson said. Especially after a time of isolation, Filiz said the two can’t wait to perform for people again.

“We are so crazy honored to be a part of Spring Sing because it’s such a big (event) but also because we get to entertain people and give people memories when it feels it’s impossible to,” Filiz said.

After meeting during freshman year of high school through student government, Lawson said he and Filiz became unlikely friends. While Lawson acted and sang in the theater department, Filiz said he was an active student government participant who captured his feelings in prose between meetings and rallies. It was not until the duo auditioned for their high school’s rock band during their sophomore year that Filiz said they realized their artistic potential. One day in Filiz’s garage, as the two practiced audition songs, Filiz said he shared his poetry with Lawson, who began to create melodies and riffs inspired by Filiz’s words.

“It was a pretty euphoric moment in our little garage,” Filiz said. “He had what I didn’t have, and I had what he didn’t have, and we put it together and made something really cool.”

Later, they formed their own group, writing and producing music. The following summer, Lawson said they wrote an 11-track album that kick-started their career and motivated them to create original music. For Filiz, an especially special moment in the band’s early stages occurred when a classmate approached him and confessed how the duo’s songs made her emotional to the point of tears.

“I’m never going to forget that (moment) because that was (what made me realize) this is what I want to do,” Filiz said. “I want to be able to pour my soul out so that other souls feel less alone.”

Two years later, the COVID-19 pandemic occurred, and Lawson said he and Filiz were committed to taking their newly acquired time to release a new album. Their most popular song “Wake Up” was one of the first ones they recorded for their new album, “Streetlights.” The song was written in response to the heartbreak that both members of Mellowood experienced close to the time of writing, and Filiz said they composed this song within two to three hours, which was much faster than their usual rate of two to three days.

“It just came out of us because we felt it so strongly,” Filiz said. “We really miss those people, and we really wish we still had that.”

When Lawson was encouraged by some friends to audition for Spring Sing, he said he knew that “Wake Up” would be the song the band should showcase. The two also wanted to ensure their debut performance at UCLA was professional and representative of their music, so Filiz said they reached out to a few high school friends for help. Bradley Caldwell, a producer for Mellowood and longtime friend of the pair, said he drove across the Bay Area to find the perfect filming locations for the music video.

The group also wanted to emulate a live performance as much as possible, so Caldwell said they also brought together a live band equipped with a drummer, bassist and keyboard player. Although listeners see Lawson and Filiz as the face of the music, Caldwell said Mellowood is more than just a band. The imagery and cinematography of the media they release are equally as important as the music, so Caldwell said he wanted to ensure the serene scenery in the music video was consistent with the sentimental tone of the song.

“All the locations were shockingly gorgeous,” Caldwell said. “I felt like I was in a movie, so hopefully the audience will feel the same way.”

The duo looks forward to taking this step in furthering their career as Mellowood, Lawson said. It had not always been easy to take the ideas out of his head and put them into action, but with their upcoming performance at Spring Sing, Lawson said the two look forward to making their aspirations into a reality.

“What me and Luca making music has taught me, it’s … just do it,” Lawson said. “It’s about getting out of your own head. … You move your dreams from the intangible to the tangible.”

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Shubhra Dubey
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