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Broad & High Presents: Bree OTB and Ty Kalil

Students of WAV (We Amplify Voices)

WAV (formerly known as the Dick & Jane Project) was founded as an after-school music education program in 2011. “WAV has since provided programming in over 25 Franklin County schools, serving between 80-100 Central Ohio students annually. We are now classified as a Social and Emotional Learning program and our Executive Director sees our work as ‘group therapy’ through the arts.

In 10 years, we’ve recorded and released more than 100 songs and several music videos. Our music is available for free through all-digital channels, including Spotify, Amazon, and iTunes,” says Travis Hoewischer, Director of Development for WAV.

Movin’ On Up
“Movin’ On Up” was written by six students in collaboration with WAV performed by Bree OTB and Ty Kalil in the WOSU Studio.”The song [is] about perseverance. It’s not about where you come from but more about who you are and how you make the best out of what you have,” says Bree. Ty adds, “I actually chose to use that sample in the song. After we had a beat, we all started writing and it took like no time at all. The energy was good and we got it done in what felt like an instant.”

Bree OTB and Ty Kalil were accompanied by instructor Eric Rollin of Mistar Anderson.

All I Need
“All I Need” is a song that Ty Kalil and Bree OTB collaborated on after their experience with WAV. “The song [is] about how music is an essential part of our lives. Most rappers need more than just the music [such as] money, clout, attention and they will do anything to get that. So, I started writing about the difference between me and them,” says Bree.

“[The song] was actually inspired by the song ‘Bigger Than Me’ by Big Sean. I related to it so much and wanted to write a song [addressed] to music … to say I appreciate everything it’s done for me,” says Ty.

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Meet The Musicians

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From left: Ty Kalil, Bree OTB, Eric Rollin.

Interview with Bree OTB and Ty Kalil, Student Alumni of the WAV Program

Join us as we talk with Bree OTB and Ty Kalil, student alumni of the WAV program. They tell us about their favorite memory during WAV, what they would do without WiFi for a week and their favorite Disney movie.

Tell us about how you connected with WAV
Bree: I got connected to WAV through a songwriting class at school. Our first project with them was to write a verse on the “Movin’ On Up” song. Those who went through with that got to go record, which was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. The energy was unmatched. They spent all day with us to put the song together, and weeks before that helped us prepare. From there, some people in the studio reached out to me for another project which led to me working with Flytown Records.

Ty: I found out about WAV through school. It’s definitely opened some doors and gave me experiences that would’ve come way later in life if I had never been introduced to them. So I’m always grateful for that.

What does music mean to you and how does it play a part in your life?
Bree: I have been writing songs for as long as I could remember. I didn’t start recording until I was about 12 or 13 in a home studio at my friend’s house, but I only released 2 songs from that studio. My freshman year is when I started performing in front of my class and getting opportunities to record with Flytown, and I started working on an EP from there.

What was it like performing with your mentor and on your own in our studio?
Bree: It was amazing to perform with my mentor! Mr. Rollin is like a father figure to me and he has always made me feel comfortable on stage. He believes in me more than anyone I know and is there for me outside of music as well.

The first time I performed with him was my first show last year, and to vibe with him was the best feeling ever. I wasn’t expecting him to perform with us on Broad & High. He came up with that hook like 30 mins before we went on so his delivery was awesome, and it was definitely impressive.

Ty: It was great, I had a good time. Just sharing a moment with everyone that was there. It was definitely a first not performing live in front of a crowd, but nonetheless still a great experience.

What is your favorite music genre and who are some of your favorite artists?
Bree: My favorite genre of music would have to be R&B and reggae music. I love how all types of music is required in R&B from the instruments to the notes you sing. I’m currently learning how to play the bass guitar and the piano, and I’ve fallen in love with the way both these genres make me feel when I play them and the importance of the lyrics within most songs. I love reggae music because the messages are so simple and true. A lot of it preaches love and peace which I think the world could always use more of.

Hip hop/rap is definitely my next favorite. I love everything about hip hop but over the years it has changed so dramatically in the sense of morals . My favorite artists are: Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, Bob Marley, J. Cole, Eve.

Ty: I personally just love good music in all genres. However, if I were to choose just one it would easily be modern R&B, because it creates a vibe that can’t be replicated by any other genre. Everything is just slowed down and we’re discussing the simplicity of life and love. I think my favorite artist right now is Bryson Tiller or Big Sean. They just inspire my sound so much.

How did WAV help you during the process of songwriting and what are some of your favorite memories from the program? 
Bree: I’d say the first studio session with all six of my classmates was my favorite memory because we were all so excited to be there and there was so much talent and potential in the room. It was super inspiring.

Ty: WAV guided all of us through “Movin’ On Up.” For a lot of us that was our first song ever. So as you would expect we all freaked out when we went to an actual recording studio.

How are you staying creative during the COVID-19 quarantine?
Bree: I’ve been working on learning new instruments so that I can take the next step in my music career and create my own beats. As well as working with alternative artists who do more than rap, but also write music in different languages and things like that. I’m really trying to open up my music to be more versatile.

Ty: As of right now I’m working on my project. I have a home studio, so I can still do what I love from home. I’ve also been making content on YouTube as well. Just trying to stay occupied in these times where it’s really easy to give yourself excuses to do nothing.

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Interview with Travis Hoewischer, Director of Development for WAV

The Origin Story
Formerly The Dick & Jane Project, WAV’s mission is to empower students through songwriting. Founded as an after-school music education program by Columbus-based charter school administrator Ben Shinabery in 2011, WAV has since provided programming in over 25 Franklin County schools, serving between 80-100 Central Ohio students annually.

We are now classified as a Social and Emotional Learning program and our Executive Director sees our work as ‘group therapy’ through the arts. In 10 years, we’ve recorded and released more than 100 songs and several music videos. Our music is available for free through all-digital channels, including Spotify, Amazon, and iTunes.

How does WAV work and what is its mission?
WAV is a writing program with a musical outcome. Professional local musicians, who serve as program instructors, receive training from WAV staff, and then lead students through a five-session songwriting process, culminating in a recording session at a professional studio. Participants learn writing and teamwork skills and receive professional exposure to music production. They also work with adult leaders representing the music and recording industries, providing experiential learning and insight into these fields.

How do students/schools get involved with WAV? 
Currently, we are piloting a brand-new version of our programming that can take place virtually, called Amplified Inside, using the incredible disruption of COVID-19 as an opportunity to reach more students in Central Ohio and beyond. Any parents who are interested in enrolling their student, can contact us directly or connect us with an administrator at their school through www.weamplifyvoices.org.

In addition to taking on new students through Amplified Inside, we’re recreating our workshops virtually to help reach and connect with students who were in songwriting workshops when their classroom work was interrupted by COVID-19. Currently, we’re finishing songwriting workshops with Wedgewood Middle School and Arts Impact Middle School, and are also staying connected through social media groups with partner Harmony Project and the kids in their South High Harmony program.

Interview with Eric Rollin, Vocalist of Mistar Anderson

How did you connect with WAV and what made you decide to volunteer for this program?
I connected with WAV about 4 years ago when it was called the Dick and Jane project. I’ve done multiple songs over the years for their catalog. I [enjoy] working with this program because it’s important to me to connect with youth that are interested in the process behind writing, recording, and releasing a song.

How do you approach your mentorship/collaboration with students and what role/guidance did you have in the song(s) they performed at WOSU?
Mentorship is different for each youth for me. Depends on their situation. I’ve had the pleasure of being on both sides of the process with this program. I’ve arranged and performed the lyrics written by the youth and I’ve also helped the youth create, prepare, and perform their own lyrics for this program.

In the song created for the Broad and High series, I had the pleasure of coaching my students through the process of recording and performing a written song for TV. That by far has been my favorite memory with this program to date. Seeing my students experience that process was amazing and inspiring. I look forward to more experiences like that in the future.

How are you navigating your role as a mentor and as a creative during COVID-19?
Fortunately I’ve still been teaching online for Franklinton Prep/Franklinton High School and I’ve also been writing educational hip hop songs with a good friend of mine who is an English teacher. They will be using the songs as teaching tools for elementary students.

In addition, I am providing free online songwriting lessons for ages 8 and up through my organization, Works of Freedom Ohio, to help keep the creatives creating in these dark times.

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