Art manifests itself in many forms, and for Baton Rouge, music is at the forefront. For many, breaking into the music scene can be daunting, especially as a solo act. The Daily Reveille sat down with marketing sophomore Carly Vicknair and English senior Saher Khan, who have both cultivated their passions for music from a young age, to explore their music and branding.
Editor's Note: Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.
TDR: To start us off, tell me why you love music.
Vicknair: Music gives me a platform to express myself and share my stories and feelings with others. There is a vulnerability behind it that is so raw and unique.
Khan: Playing music is one of the few things that shuts off all the noise in my head so I can focus on something, and that also goes for listening to music. I love feeling the emotions an artist puts in their lyrics and sound, but I also enjoy taking a step back to appreciate the method and process of creating it.
TDR: Going along with that, what is your favorite aspect of music?
Vicknair: I love the connection that it makes to memories. If I had not listened to music so much while growing up, I would have a much harder time remembering the good emotions my favorite family road trips evoked.
Khan: I don’t have a singular favorite aspect of music, but one thing I love is the community music can create. I love talking about music with people, going to shows, listening to music my friends recommend to me.
TDR: So, for a little backstory, how did you get into music?
Vicknair: I remember from a very young age watching VH-1 music videos every morning before school and singing along to almost every song that played on the radio. Though I had a strong love for it, my voice didn’t really develop until I was in eighth grade. After that, I decided to start taking vocal lessons at Baton Rouge Music Studios my sophomore year of high school.
Khan: I’ve listened to music since I was a kid, and my older sister and I have sung together in our pajamas since I was little. My first instrument was clarinet in middle school band. I picked up guitar in eighth grade and it’s been my primary instrument ever since.
TDR: What would you say is your style or genre?
Vicknair: Folk pop, though I enjoy adding a bluesy sound sometimes.
Khan: I’m still figuring out what my style and genre is. I’d say it’s acoustic rock, folk, and blues right now, but once I start playing around with electric guitars more I want to venture out of the acoustic singer-songwriter genre into stuff that’s more experimental.
TDR: What’s been the biggest challenge as a newer musician?
Vicknair: A big challenge for me has been finding my unique sound. It’s so awesome to have musicians around me that inspire me each day, but it’s also a reminder that I have to stand out and create something exciting, yet appealing to a wide audience.
Khan: So far, the biggest challenge I’ve faced is figuring out what equipment to use and my recording setup. I currently live with my parents, so I’m used to singing softly into my laptop to record using its built in microphone. I don’t know much about recording besides GarageBand, and I also want to incorporate more instruments and sounds into my songs so there will be a bit of a learning curve.
TDR: As a solo artist, how do you market yourself in the local music scene?
Vicknair: This is something that is evolving as I am starting to write more of my own music. I always try to take advantage of any opportunity to perform in the area, usually at small markets or restaurants.
Khan: Facebook. Social media is the way to go these days.
TDR: What do you like to write about?
Vicknair: My favorite thing to write about would be any memory or life experience that I am most passionate about. I love taking real-life situations and adding a creative twist to them.
Khan: I like writing about things that matter to me, whether that’s faith, social problems, growing pains, and most personally my relationships with the people around me. Sometimes I like getting out of my head a bit so I can play with images and concepts.
TDR: What can you tell me about the first song you wrote?
Vicknair: I wrote my first original piece when I was a senior in high school. I always enjoyed writing about my life experiences and feelings, but I knew that this writing in particular had a lot of imagery and happy emotions that would make a great song. I went on to record a good chunk of it at the studio, but it still remains a work in progress, as I slowly revise it. The song is so special to me because it reminds me of all of my hard work and how far I have come.
Khan: The first song I ever wrote was in the ninth grade, and it was actually for guitar and violin. One of my best friends is a classically trained violinist and I had her play the melody. The song was meant to be an accompaniment to EE Cummings's poem "I Carry Your Heart With Me." I know, it's really cheesy. I also have never played that song live because I don't play violin, but it was such a fun project to do. I could intertwine my love of literature with playing music with my best friend.
TDR: What was your first real gig like? What were some of the emotions that went along with it?
Vicknair: I remember, during one of my first gigs at Mellow Mushroom, I was completely overcome by both nerves and excitement. It was such a special moment for me because it was the first time I had sung while playing guitar in front of a crowd. It turned out really well and was a huge stepping stone.
Khan: My first gig was super chill. It was fun because so many friends came to support me. It was almost embarrassing to have so much support because it was such a small event, just a 20-minute set at a stage under a tent with some string lights and decorative cushions. But it did feel really good that my people cared enough to make it.
TDR: What’s next for you?
Vicknair: I plan on writing a few more songs that I can record and hopefully release as an EP one day. In the meantime, I am definitely going to scope out some cool open-mic nights to perform my originals as well as some cool covers of my favorite songs.
Khan: I’m planning on focusing a lot more on making music once I have more time to, and that will be after I graduate.