A modern Renaissance: Quarantine grants student artists time to hone in on their craft

Student musician Grant Spiegal's latest project, For My Friends, marks a growth from an earlier period where he felt more confined in his artistry

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Kelly Kerrigan

Grant Spiegal created for my friends and his own music.

by Kelly Kerrigan, Senior Staff Writer

A Modern Renaissance

The renaissance was an era of rebirth for humanity during the 14th through 17th centuries of European culture. During this time, humanism grew in importance placing strengthened values on arts, literature and sciences promoting creativity and connection between living beings in the world. 

Following global “Stay-at-Home” orders, I believe the isolation and reflection will inspire artists, writers, musicians and creatives to set aside day-to-day distractions and allow for them to focus on their artistic abilities, alluding to “a modern Renaissance.” 

Here is the first story of our latest series, which will profile student artists.

Grant Spiegel

With a deep-rooted passion for music and reflection of the friendships he has formed over the years, environmental geology senior Grant Spiegal was inspired to create something that showed both his gratitude and love, thus beginning For My Friends.

For My Friends is an electronic music project run by Spiegel who finds solace with the time he has been gifted during the stay-at-home order. In college, For My Friends has renamed and restarted Spiegal’s music career into what now feels like the most original version of himself. 

The electronic DJ often finds inspiration through various genres of music, remixing melodic-indie music into his own style. For My Friends has turned Foster the People and Tame Impala songs into transient beats exuding mystery and nostalgia while wavering between bittersweet emotions. 

During this time, what has inspired you to turn to music? 

“My greatest inspirations are honestly what surrounds me every day. As cheesy as this sounds, my biggest inspirations for songwriting come from the people in my life around me as well as nature and all that good stuff. When I make music, it’s impossible for me to not make exactly what I’m feeling. If I’m feeling sad it’ll probably be reflected in an idea I start. If I’m excited about something and super energetic I probably won’t even end up making For My Friends music and I’ll probably mess around and make some heavy bass music or something.”

What artists are your biggest inspirations in music? 

“This one has always been a difficult question for me to answer. I’d say my production is subconsciously influenced mostly from my childhood and everything ranging from Kid Cudi to early 2000 electronic indie bands like MGMT. As of right now, my biggest influences are probably Rufus Du Sol, Tourist, The Naked and Famous, Lane 8 and honestly so many more. If I had to choose one all-time biggest influence on my music though it would be hands down Rufus Du Sol. I feel like I know every song on Solace, Atlas and Bloom front to back.”

If you looked back and compared where you are now as an artist compared to where you were in when you started, what would you be most proud of now? 

“I think I would be most proud of how now I just write what I want to write. I feel like I used to cater to the masses more. I would say, ‘Grant you need to make some heavy dance stuff that will be played out at parties everywhere.’ Now I feel like I have total control if I want to release something like that, I will. If I want to release something that people will solely listen to on late-night highway drives, I will also be proud of that. I’m also proud of how far I’ve come in terms of people I’ve reached with my music. Every day I’m getting new SoundCloud likes from when I first started in high school posting weird beats and felt extremely grateful to get 500 plays.”

What are your hopes for the music industry after this period?

“Honestly, I think it will mostly stay the same. One thing I’ve noticed since all these online live streams started is that so many people are discovering new smaller artists and giving them a platform. I for sure think that after all this ends festival lineups will change a little bit. All these underrated artists that are up and coming will get the chance to shine. I just hope I get that opportunity in the next couple of years as I continue to write and release my music.  “

What was the most defining point in music for you?

“Probably when I released my first remix on Soundcloud under a different name as a duo I was a part of. The likes and plays just kept coming in and everyone I knew was telling me how good it was and how they showed it to their friends and how they loved it. People from other schools were telling my homies, ‘You know the guy that made this?’ Honestly, all that validation really lifted me up and encouraged me to keep going with my gut with my music. Another defining point was probably again with my old duo (Uber to China) and another artist when we had our first and only Spotify release. I landed a label placement with it, and it did well. It was cool to see people from all over bumping the stuff we made in our bedrooms.”

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