Developing an infatuation for the songs of a particular musician or artist remains a hallmark high school experience. Not only do St. Andrew’s alumni Brenton Duvall ’09 and Britta Loftus ’13 continue to have fond memories of the artists that they connected with during their high school years, but they work today to create similar experiences for fans of their own music.
Loftus recently self-released a single entitled “Daydreams” on Aug. 2, which Duvall produced. As artists, both Duvall and Loftus work toward creating songs that hold meaning to their listeners.
“The most fun thing about music, in my mind, is not even necessarily that I am expressing myself, but that I am getting to connect with other people, because I want to get other people excited about it,” Loftus said. “It’s not about whether the song expresses who I am, it is about whether it connects with people.”
Duvall echoes this when he thinks about the songs he has helped produce for acts such as The Chainsmokers, Fall Out Boy, Kiiara, and iLoveMakonnen.
“I just always get a lot more pleasure from seeing people react to [those songs]… when an artist gets a bunch of love on a song, I am able to see the love that they are getting and apply [it] to myself, and that’s enough for me.”
Duvall moved to Los Angeles in 2015. After having made a name for himself during ten years of work in music production, he became interested in working with someone not yet established within the industry. His younger brother, Will ’14, showed Duvall a Snapchat video of Loftus performing with her college band at the University of Richmond and suggested that Duvall should reach out to her.
Loftus moved to Los Angeles soon after graduating from Richmond in 2017, and together the former St. Andrew’s students began an intensive year-long process of working and creating “Daydreams.”
Duvall saw the experience as something he learned from. “We obviously had learned a lot from each other, because I am in the thick of this and it is easy to forget how things really are,” he said. “Even though Britta was completely new to things, there are still things you can learn from someone like that who is so passionate about music.”
“We also definitely took our time with the lyrics,” Loftus recalled. “We went back and we redid some verses and we took on the second perspective of, what does this mean to other people?, and thought about the sound and flow of the song.”
Despite their successes in the music industry, Duvall and Loftus continue to learn from rejection and the daily challenges of working to create music in a rapidly changing business.
“Everyone has an opinion on music, and more than half the people in this industry don’t even play an instrument or anything,” Duvall explained. “You just have to accept that people don’t always know what they are talking about. People are not right or wrong. No one is smarter than you for telling you that you are bad, they are just saying this was not their thing.”
Loftus also experienced some challenges when promoting “Daydreams” to music blogs and other playlists.
“I’ll get people who will write back and tell me what they liked, but then say that they did not identify with [the song] or say it was too commercial. It always sucks. But I think the few yeses that happen make it all worth it.”
Along with those obstacles, Duvall and Loftus offer advice for people willing to take the risk and pursue a career in the music industry.
“You just have to make it a part of your routine and just keep doing it,” Duvall said. “I always tell people who are looking for advice in the music industry, ‘if you don’t quit, you are going to be fine.’ But the more you immerse yourself, the more you do it, the more you learn and push through and when you find yourself making strides, it gets you to keep going.”
Loftus emphasizes the importance of social media and developing connections with other artists and producers.
“You can use social media to your advantage to seek out people similar to you and research what they are doing,” Loftus said. “You have the world at your fingertips; do not be afraid to reach out to people and always try to offer what you can do for them.”
As Duvall looked back on the influence St. Andrew’s had on his passion for music, he credits the school with teaching him how to learn.
“I feel like I figured out how to learn for myself when I was at St. Andrew’s, and once I developed my passion for music, I could not stop. I just wanted to know everything, do everything, and meet all these people. I feel like St. Andrew’s really helped with that.”
Although Loftus is still finding a place within the music industry, she receives a lot of support from her St. Andrew’s community.
“It helped to have people to back you up and feel like you have people in your corner,” she said. “I released my song and people from St. Andrew’s were excited about it and sharing it. I don’t even know if they know how much that means to me, You are just learning to have courage and believe in yourself, because other people believe in you and want you to succeed. It means the most when people do support you in that way.”