Build beats with Sean Kawanami


Joy Kim

MUSIC MAKING MAGIC: Senior Sean Kawanami uses the software Logic Pro X to polish his latest album in the works.

Matthew Dimaandal, Photo Editor

While many stay up late listening to chill beats while studying for their next test, senior Sean Kawanami is hard at work composing the same beats students listen to. While soon to be studying music at UCLA, Kawanami discussed in-depth about how his passion for music began and revealed his own process for composing different styles of music, ranging from classical to hip-hop.

The Howler: When did you start getting into music?
Sean Kawanami: I loved music all my life. I grew up with parents who loved different genres of music: My dad was interested in classic rock and my mom was interested in pop and funk like Earth, Wind and Fire and the Bee Gees. I didn’t take it seriously until middle school, when I started doing percussion and realized I wanted to do music as a career.

TH: Which instruments have you played?
SK: I grew up in a very musical family, but I didn’t play instruments until I was in third grade. I started playing piano when I was eight but also know how to play drumset and a little bit of violin and cello.

TH: When did you start composing and what type of music do you like composing?
SK: I started composing about a year and a half ago. Probably a little bit more. I enjoy using different varieties of instruments and ensembles in my pieces. I also like making a lot of hip hop, jazz and sometimes help NTV with their music.

TH: Is there a process for different genres of music that you compose?
SK: If I’m doing something in the classical realm, I would most likely be notating on sheet music in order to write down all my ideas. With that type of composition, I need other musicians to play the piece for me. If I do more jazz or hip-hop, I would be doing that on a DAW, or a Digital Audio Workstation. I use Logic Pro X, basically an expensive GarageBand, and I make my music on that.

TH: Do you have a musician that inspires you the most, whether it is in performing music or composing?
SK: I don’t have a singular inspiration. I have inspirations that influenced me quite a bit but not a single type of person that expired me the most. Kendrick Lamar, Bill Evans and MF Doom are some of my most recent inspirations.

TH: What are you currently working on?
SK: Right now, I’m working on a string quartet piece. It’s the second one after one I wrote earlier in 2019. I’m trying to work on an album that focuses more on hip-hop and planning on showing parts of it on my Instagram @seank_music.

TH: Do you have any tips for those that want to learn how to compose music?
SK: I know a lot of people say it, but you have to start doing it. No matter how it sounds, good or bad, you just have to see it from start to finish. It’s really trying to learn your voice, and the only way to find it is to speak your musical language.