Musicians reshape school music scene
November 23, 2010
Young rapper Ronnie Hamilton
Eastside Catholic High School
Eastside Catholic High School isn’t usually known for its hip-hop scene, but one student just might be able to change that perception. His name is Ronnie Hamilton, a 16-year-old junior and aspiring rapper who has become involved in the local rap game lately.
“I love the art of hip-hop music and the way the music comes across to me,” he said. “I’ve always had a knack for writing, as well.”
Hamilton started writing simple rhythms at age 12. However, his work had never been performed or recorded until last year, when a friend suggested he put out a mix tape. It created a lot of buzz at Eastside.
Hamilton says he’s “not a fan” of his first mix tape and believes his performance this summer at the Valley Experience Project truly marked his debut and caught people’s attention. Another one of his career highlights was his recent appearance at El Corazon, a music venue in Seattle.
The self-described “rookie” has come a long way since writing “little rhythms about girls and stuff.” Currently, his favorite artist is J. Cole, but his true inspiration is ordinary, everyday people. As for his future career, Hamilton has big dreams. One of his main goals is simply for more people to experience his music.
“If I can say that I got everyone to hear it once, I would feel like I accomplished a lot,” he said.
Ronnie’s next live performance will be in December at KTUB in Kirkland. His newest album will be available after his studio undergoes reconstruction.
DJ Connor Higgins
Issaquah High School
Connor Higgins, a senior at Issaquah High School, isn’t your typical musician. Higgins is the section leader of the saxophones in band and the lead tenor in Jazz Band. He’s also an avid DJ.
Higgins started out without much equipment. After getting several gigs and gaining an audience, he was able to buy better equipment and his own set of speakers. Higgins admitted he has developed a great passion for mixing music and performing at different venues — in particular, places where he can DJ in front of people who give him solid constructive feedback.
“DJing can be broken down into two aspects: a love of great music and a need to share that great music with everyone,” he said.
Higgins said he believes the most important requirement for becoming a DJ is a passion for dancing.
“If you don’t like to dance, then DJing is not for you,” he said. “A DJ who doesn’t like dancing is like a vegetarian working at Fat Burger.”
Higgins hopes to expand his DJing career at Duke University, where he hopes to attend college.
Musician Hannah Bergam
Liberty High School
Music has always been part of Liberty High School junior Hannah Bergam’s life: From her first performance at age 3 — a rendition of Britney Spears in the waiting room of a dentist’s office — to getting her first guitar at 11 after years of borrowing her sister’s, Bergam has been involved with music as long as she can remember.
“I play music because it completes me,” Bergam said. “I play for those moments where you close your eyes and nail it, and everybody in the room feels the exact same magic you do.”
Bergam gets plenty of opportunities to share that magic with others.
“I play the French horn in wind ensemble, the melophone in marching band, the trombone in jazz band, the guitar for fun, and I like to mess around with other instruments like the piano and trumpet,” she said.
Bergam also likes to write and record her own music.
“It is what I am most proud of,” she said. “I write about whatever strikes me. I write things for people, and about experiences and hardships. I try to write what is real.”
Bergam doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon.
“I do not know if I could make a career out of music, but I would take an opportunity to if one arose,” she said, adding that “music has been and always will be a huge part of my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
The Barokas brothers
Skyline High School
Whether it is performing in a band, at school, in YouTube videos or just jamming at home — Jake and Zach Barokas are always up to something.
Zach, a junior at Skyline, is the drummer for the band Fit For Hounds and has been playing drums for five years. Jake, a freshman, has been shredding guitar since long before middle school (where he earned his title, appropriately, as Jake Ba“rock”as).
The teens’ involvement in music came from their deep interest in classic rock and the need for a creative outlet. Zach was inspired to be a drummer by the rhythms and the noise he encountered on a daily basis. Jake’s inspiration came primarily from his dad exposing him to Van Halen’s music.
“I immediately knew that guitar was for me,” Jake said. “I wanted to be able to make those sounds that Eddie did.”
Both boys are dedicated to what they do and have unique ideas for their own sound. They have struggled with collaborating in the past, as their artistic visions are both very strong and their musical tastes are different. Instead of trying to fight over the spotlight, they have found that they do perfectly well shining on their own in a way that makes their skills incomparable.
“We’re brothers, so it’s important for us to support each other,” Zach said. “Our instruments are so different — Jake can be the melody and I can be the rhythm.”
The most important thing to them is that they love what they do; positive recognition is just a bonus. Expect to see more of the Barokas brothers in the near future.