The album is largely the product of David’s work in an independent study and focuses on love and self-reflection.
Upper School student David Gring ’21 released his first album, “The Study,” on Oct. 4. The album — which is largely the product of David’s work in an independent study on music composition — focuses on two central themes: love and self-reflection. We sat down with David to learn more about his album, his inspirations, and his style.
When did you start writing music — what prompted your interest?
I’ve been involved with music and playing different instruments since I was around five years old. It seemed like a burden for the first few years but, by around fifth or sixth grade, everything started to click. I started writing really basic songs in sixth grade just for fun, and they got a little more and more complex as I continued. My piano studio (Family Piano Academy in Raleigh) has a charity show every year featuring original songs from students. After I was invited to perform in it, I started writing complete arrangements and more detailed compositions.
How would you describe your sound?
Because I have so many influences, my sound is hard for even me to describe. It has roots from rock, grunge, pop and hip-hop. When I perform live, it’s closer to the grunge/rock sound, but after I produce, it sounds more pop/hip-hop. It can probably fit under the alt-pop genre.
What was the inspiration behind your album and the album name?
Last year, in 10th grade, I took an independent study in Music Composition with Mr. Flinn. Over the course of the semester, I wrote about eight or nine complete songs, and Mr. Flinn really helped me dig into the songwriting process. There’s no sole focus or subject matter over the whole album, so I ended up calling it “The Study” which, to me, represents everything I learned (and “studied”) throughout the six-month span, both musically and in life. It was also my first time going through the recording process, so every time I worked on the album, I learned something new.
What inspires your songwriting and music?
From a lyrics standpoint, most of the songs I write are inspired by things that happen to me or around me. After I get an idea, I’ll exaggerate it a bit a try to tell a story. From a musical/accompaniment standpoint, I like to experiment with different sounds, progressions and structures. I’ll usually start with a melody or a bassline and then build from there. On my album, lots of the basslines and drum grooves are much more detailed (similar to hip-hop) and the vocals and melodies are typically more grungy.
What was the most challenging part of producing your album?
For me, the hardest part of the process was the recording and production. I spent a ton of time this summer going over the smallest details in songs — some of which I ultimately ended up not even using. I spent hours up in my room working on little vocal licks and guitar solos. It’s a bit of a leap — a risk — putting something you've worked so hard on out there for anyone to see and listen to. It’s music that is a part of me, but I know that not everyone will like it, and frankly some people may dislike it. But I have been really appreciative of the support that my friends and mentors have given me — even if they don't like the music they have been incredibly supportive of me pursuing a passion.
What are your plans for the future?
While I’m unsure of what I want to study in college or where I’ll end up, I know that music will always be a part of my future. I am fortunate to be a Hunter Scholar at Ravenscroft, which has allowed me to further develop my interests in music. This past summer I used part of the scholarship to attend a camp on music production, which is something I may want to study in college.
What else would you like our readers to know about you and/or your music?
This year I started a new club at school called Coffeehouse; we meet once a month on the patio to play live music over lunch. Anyone at Ravenscroft — students, faculty and staff, of any musical ability — can participate. It’s been awesome so far. In addition to music, I’m a member of the varsity wrestling and lacrosse teams, Ragin’ Ravens and am involved in St. Baldrick’s and the 2020 Hood to Coast team.
David’s independent study sponsor Kevin Flinn, an Upper School English teacher, said of David’s work, “He has consistently pinned my ears back with the volume and quality of the work he’s presented. There’s a professional approach, a workmanlike dedication, to his songwriting/ recording that many artists that get paid to write/record for a living can’t claim.”
Listen to David’s album “The Story” on Spotify or Apple Music!