When Will Seagrist began mixing music, he never imagined he’d end up with a recording contract and a single on iTunes.
Seagrist is a sophomore at Marquette in the College of Business Administration who produces and DJs house and electronic music under the name Apollo.
Growing up, he listened to a wide variety of music and eventually stumbled upon electronic and techno, which has led him down his current path.
“I grew up with newer music like the Black Eyed Peas and such – not necessarily electronic – but I’ve been into different types of music sporadically throughout my whole life,” Seagrist said. “Once I got older, I just started exploring with music and discovered electronic. It sort of just progressed from there.”
While discovering electronic music was a spark, something else originally inspired him to start making music. Three or four years ago, Seagrist wanted to learn to play the piano and started experimenting with creating and composing music.
“What started out as a hobby ended up as an obsession,” Seagrist said.
Before creating his own tracks – a recent development – Seagrist would remix other people’s music with music editing programs.
“I just started doing my own, original stuff recently, which was terrible when I started,” Seagrist said. “It all started whenever I felt like remixing tracks, and it takes time to become proficient in those programs. It’s gotten better and better.”
The process of creating an original song is lengthy. Seagrist says he can work on a three-minute song for more than two weeks. He creates electronic music in levels, first developing a bass melody and then layering sound on top. It takes time to create and assemble the sounds into a song. After putting all the elements together, Seagrist mixes and masters the track.
“Mixing is like fine-tuning every sound to make everything sound nice, like equalizing decibels at certain levels,” Seagrist said. “There’s a bunch of other stuff like using effects on sounds and messing with all the levels. The last part is mastering for quality. It can take a while.”
Seagrist draws his inspiration from different artists and places. Some of his current favorite artists are Alesso, A-Track and Avicii, although he notes that his taste changes on a whim. Sometimes just listening to a song can inspire Seagrist to compose a track.
“The process of a song just starts when I listen to music, and either I discover a new song or listen to something that is really insanely awesome and I feel like I just need to go out and make something,” he said.
Seagrist hasn’t played a show of his own yet, but he has been performing at local DJ-ing and club events at venues in Milwaukee like the Rave and the Miramar Theatre. During these shows, he plays other people’s tracks as well as his own.
Though he uses social media sites such as YouTube and Soundcloud, Seagrist also shares his music through iTunes and Beatport, a huge electronic music and DJ community.
“Over winter break, I signed a contract as an exclusive artist with a record label in Germany called BassXpress and a different contract with an Italian record label called Urbanlife, where I signed over a couple of different rights for my songs to release in stores all over the world,” Seagrist said. “Urbanlife Records owns ‘Specter,’ and they had some of their artists remix it and it was put out in a set of three different songs.”
For someone who started out doing music as a hobby, Seagrist is surprised by all the positive feedback and success he’s had from social media and friends.
“It’s awesome,” said Seagrist. “I mean I wasn’t expecting this to ever happen. It’s nice because they provide everything for me, like professionally recorded vocals and MIDI files. It’s awesome that something you love as a hobby turning into a part-time job.”
Seagrist’s plans for the near future include keeping up with a hectic school schedule and continuing to produce music and play shows. He hopes to make a name for himself in the electronic dance music community, which has also been enjoying a recent rise to the mainstream.
“For music I’m just going to keep promoting. I do a lot of work every day, and I’m pretty busy between school and music,” he said. “There’s a lot of business involved. I plan to hopefully move up the ladder and someday get signed to a bigger label and see where it goes. I’d like to make a career out of it, but I’m in school in case it doesn’t happen.”