Student from Cumberland records studio track of original song

Student from Cumberland records studio track of original song

CUMBERLAND – Cumberland resident Oliver O’Neill can now add amateur recording artist to his resume.

While taking an introduction to songwriting class last fall at Connecticut College, O’Neill wrote and recorded “Daisy Darling,” a three-minute song he describes as “power folk” that wowed his teachers.

After workshopping the songs in class, the 16 students had a few days to record their tracks in a studio, which were then mixed, mastered, and made into a CD that’s available online at .

“It was a long process,” O’Neill, who will be a senior at the college in the fall, told The Valley Breeze. “The recording process … forced me to think about all of the ways in which the song was being presented.”

“Daisy Darling” is the first song O’Neill has written and completely finalized. He said recording a track was a new experience for him, adding that 20 to 30 people helped work on the album.

“It was cool,” he said. “It was a lot of pressure because the recording studio we used was pretty high caliber. The equipment is very expensive. We knew it was a privilege, and we had to go fast.”

“Oliver was a standout,” Katherine Bergeron, the college’s president who taught the class with her husband Butch Rovan, a media artist and music professor at Brown University, said. “He is a true songwriting talent. Very few students have such an ear for lyric writing as Oliver had.”

“Daisy Darling,” a song about the excitement of a new friendship, was influenced by artists (Sandy) Alex G, Big Thief, and Pinegrove, O’Neill said.

“On the one hand I wrote the song for my class,” he said. “On the other hand, it was about a person in my life.”

That person, Darcy Whitman, another student at the college, is now O’Neill’s girlfriend. She didn’t know she was the inspiration behind the song until after they started dating, O’Neill said.

“Songwriting is fun,” O’Neill said. “I really like playing in a band with my friends. That’s been a key aspect of my college experience.”

Music is more a hobby for the history major and Italian minor who said he has no plans to pursue music professionally after college.

O’Neill, who sings and plays guitar and piano, has performed in bands on campus and is a member of an a cappella group at his college called Williams Street Mix. He’s also taken vocal lessons at college.

O’Neill will spending his summer playing music with a friend from town and working on his honors thesis about colonization and the slave trade in southern New England.

A 2016 graduate of La Salle Academy, he said his interest in music started when he got a guitar the summer before his senior year of high school. He joined the school’s choir his senior year and participated in several musicals.

A fan of alternative music, O’Neill names Bob Dylan, Fleet Foxes, and Car Seat Headrest as some of his inspirations.

“There are so many moving pieces in creating a song,” O’Neill said, adding that the takeaway from the class was realizing “how complex the process of trying to write a good song is.”