Kalamazoo, MI
one-hundred-forty Years of Service to the Student

Music

The Games We Play

Album art cover by Chiara Sarter K’17

Tommy Jackson K’15 composes, records, and produces album

For his Senior Individualized Project, Tommy Jackson K’15 started with some “skeletons of songs” last June and ended with an album entitled “Games We Play,” featuring him playing piano, bass, guitar, and organ music he composed, as well as lyrics he wrote.

According to the Psychology Major, he first thought of doing a musical SIP during his
first year at K and solidified the idea when he returned from his junior year off campus and found that he did not want to do a psychology SIP.
Although Jackson didn’t know if he had “enough creative original material to constitute an album,” he reached out to Doug Decker, who later became his SIP advisor, and started playing around with some melodies and lyrics on an electric piano in his basement. He said he wrote one song, which ended up being the title track of the album, from start to finish in two sittings, which made him believe that he could complete the entire album.
“Lyrics are probably my biggest weakness as a composer, so I tend to start at the piano and work with either melodies or chord progressions first,” Jackson said “That usually yields a melody, and I fit lyrics into that.”
He added that many of his lyrics discuss romantic and sexual relationships and some of the things he has learned from those relationships.
“My lyrics have a lot of meaning to me…That doesn’t come through all the time,” Jackson said. “They’re dance-y and happy and groovy and that’s what they’re supposed to be.”
Although Jackson composed, recorded, and produced the entire album, he had some help from vocalist Brian Craig K’14, guitarist Brad Stech K’15, and trumpeter Kieran Williams K’ 16. The original album art is by Chiara Sarter K’17.
Jackson said that through this project he has learned a lot about music theory and music
production.
“It’s really hard for me to put genre on it because I am so close to it,” Jackson said about
his album. “I think it’s groovy, funky, pop…It’s definitely influenced by Ben Folds, especially through the piano.”
Jackson added that this project has made him create music differently, made him listen to music differently, and has completely changed his perspective on music.

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The Games We Play