Sam Landstra—Staff Writer
The performances at NCDC this past weekend showcased many talented Dordt and Northwestern students. Among these performers stands Noah Deist, a freshman digital media major who writes and records his own music. Before covering Don’t Stop Believing for his NCDC performance, Deist jokingly told the crowd his band forgot to show up, but he was going to try to perform anyway. Deist then separately played piano, drums, bass, acoustic, and electric guitar, mixed the instruments together using a loop machine, and sang along to the layered track he put together live on stage.
While he only began looping a year and a half ago, Deist has been making music for many years. When songwriting, Deist says he’ll sometimes sit down with the intention of writing a song, but other times his music is inspired by emotional experiences. Ultimately, Deist says he asks himself before writing any song, “What story do I want to tell?”
Recently, Deist released Onward, a single that follows his three song EP, Step One, put out earlier this year. In the recording of these projects, Deist was able to use a professional recording studio in Sioux Falls that mixed and mastered his tracks, which he claims was “a really good deal.” To distribute his music, Deist uses DistroKid, an independent digital music distribution service that Deist says is “perfect” for independent artists. Individuals who subscribe to DistroKid can submit their song, title, album artwork and other credits to DistroKid, which then distributes the song to all major streaming services.
While having independently made music on Spotify and other streaming services is something few people can boast of, a single stream on Spotify returns only $0.006 to $0.0084 of profit to the artist. Due to this extremely low rate, Deist has only made around $14 off his EP thus far. Nonetheless, it is impressive to note Step One was produced entirely by Deist, without the help of a record deal.
Another independent music artist in the freshman class is digital media major Gerrit Van Dyk. Going by the artist name “Mind Of Mine,” Van Dyk also personally writes and records all his music, and released a single titled The Little Things earlier this year.
Similar to Deist, Van Dyk says that for every song he writes, the songwriting process varies. He will either begin with a lyric and develop a song from there, or hum a tune and put words to it later. The most difficult part of this process, according to Van Dyk, is finishing songs.
“Sometimes you just can’t find the right sound to fit in a song, you don’t know what should fill that space,” he said. “I probably go through anywhere from 10 to 100 different instruments and sounds before I think ‘that’s the one.’”
Deist experiences these same difficulties, estimating that if he finished all his current songs, he’d have two full albums of content.
Both artists find their utlimate motivation for music in the joy they receive from piecing a song together that can be performed for others’ enjoyment. But that’s not all that drives the two.
Van Dyk says Mind Of Mine was born out of spite.
“I wanted to prove to myself that this was possible,” he said. “Everyone else can do it, I can do it too.”
For Deist, another motivator is his desire to put out wholesome music in a secular—and often sinful—industry.
“I want to be the artist who is a Christian writing secular music,” Deist said, “music that will appeal to everyone, but has a good foundation and heart behind it.”
In the future, Deist looks to put together a full album, but is currently focusing on building up a foundation by releasing more singles and attempting to get his current songs onto curated Spotify playlists. As for Van Dyk, he says Mind Of Mine will be releasing a 10-song album sometime in 2019.
Both students’ content can be found on all major streaming platforms underneath “Noah Deist” or “Mind Of Mine.”