For Washington University in St. Louis senior J.T. Bridges, making music was largely a solitary affair. He taught himself guitar, recorded tracks in his home studio and only rarely performed for an audience. None of this was by choice, exactly.
“At its best, music is a collaborative process,” said Bridges, who records under the name Tay Altair and is studying sociology in Arts & Sciences. “I love sharing ideas and working with people with different skill sets, but I’ve never been able find people who do what I do.”
Until now. Bridges joined forces with senior Tyler Jordan and his group, High Note Music Industry Collective, to record the song “Discord” at the Harvey Media Center on the Danforth Campus. “Discord” is now available on Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud and other streaming platforms.
For the debut of The Record’s new series, “I Made This,” Bridges shared the story behind the production of his new single. Upcoming features will showcase members of the Washington University community and their creations, whether they are a poem, a business, a student group or a software program.
Radio-ready talent meets a music matchmaker
Bridges and Jordan met in Umrath Hall as first-year students and soon discovered their shared passion. Bridges grew up in a strict no-rap household in New Orleans and loved R&B artists like Musiq Soulchild and SWV. Jordan was raised on hip-hop in Los Angeles and performed in the honors jazz ensemble.
Both decided to pursue music, not academically but through their own projects. Bridges created the persona of Tay Altair and created songs, poetry and art about the character and his relationships. And Jordan launched High Note Music Industry Collective to help students explore different aspects of the music business, from audio engineering to concert promotion to entertainment law. Jordan, a bassist, discovered his real gift is matchmaking.
“I get really inspired by meeting and connecting talented people to one another,” said Jordan, who is majoring in international studies in Arts & Sciences and also runs the High Note Collective store, which produces and distributes artist merchandise. “J.T. is obviously one of those people. The first time I heard his music, I could tell he had something special and I wanted to help.”
By “something special,” Jordan does not mean “fine for a sociology major.” He sees Bridges as a radio-ready talent who could share the airwaves with Daniel Caesar and Khalid. Like those stars′ tracks, “Discord” boasts a chill vibe, earnest lyrics and acoustic rhythms. Bridges actually wrote and recorded the song almost a year ago, but he was unhappy with the production.
Enter Jordan. He had booked the Harvey Media Center’s state-of-the-art recording studio for High Note’s Song Week, an event for students to record, network and participate in workshops. Jordan then connected Bridges to first-year students Ethan Harris, a drummer; and Coby Schneider, a guitarist with recording experience. Along with Bridges’ manager, Anthony Bartley, and Harvey Media Center manager Jeff Allen, the team recorded the song in a day.
The result surpassed Bridges’ expectations.
“Ethan’s drums gave the song the organic feel that you can only get with live instrumentation, and Coby showed me so much about recording,” Bridges said. “But, most of all, it was so exciting to work with talented people who I could learn from.”