An octave above the rest: three students produce and release their own music

Natalie Tress

The crackle of a microphone and notes from a keyboard echo between bedroom walls. Three students, Dalya Byrnes, Asal Takesh and Berta Bunch scribble down chorus lyrics while working to develop and produce their own music. Throughout the pandemic, these students have been able to expand their passions for singing and songwriting by producing music from the confines of their rooms, rather than recording studios. Each of these girls has a unique perspective on songwriting, but are connected through the significant role music has played in each of their lives and the prospect of musical careers in the future. 


Dalya Byrnes 

Senior Dalya Byrnes has always found inspiration in music and grew up doing musical theatre and chorus. Going into Redwood, Byrnes found that Performance Workshop provided an educational opportunity to produce her own music. Taking advantage of quarantine, Byrnes has purchased music equipment for recording on her own.

Using melodic inspiration from classic rock artists and vocal inspiration from 90s pop queens, Byrnes has a unique songwriting process, matching up harmonies with lyrics. 

Exploring unique styles and perspectives, Dalya Byrnes has three singles released on Spotify and other platforms. Photo by Natalie Tress.

“I go through lyrics first and test [them] with the chord progression I made to see if it flows, but sometimes I’ll find a cool harmony or something that sticks in my head, and then I’ll base the chords off of that,” Byrnes said.

With three singles released and an 18-song album in progress, Byrnes’ passion for producing music is growing. In the fall, Byrnes will be attending Berklee College of Music, a private institution of contemporary music in Boston, where she is excited to expand her musical career.

“My ideal goal is becoming a singer and recording artist, and maybe getting into the management of music as well,” Byrnes said. “Ever since I was little I have wanted to be a singer, so I’m trying to work toward that now.”


Asal Takesh 

While junior Asal Takesh considers herself to be a singer first, her love for songwriting has continued to grow, especially through quarantine. Takesh has released four songs and is currently working on a six-song extended play (EP) album.

“I have been singing [for] as long as I can remember,” Takesh said. “Music has always been such an important thing in my life that keeps me really grounded.”

Takesh explains that a lot of her musical inspiration comes from personal experiences, specifically social challenges in middle school. Takesh writes many songs from an emotional standpoint and hopes to create music that other people can resonate with.

Performing has always been a huge part of Asal Takesh’s life, with support from her friends and family. Photo Courtesy of Asal Takesh.

“[Songwriting] is a very emotional and vulnerable process, and requires a lot of genuity,” Takesh said. “I get these surges of musical inspiration in the middle of the night or the middle of AP Comp class, and I will stay up and produce an entire song.”

One of her major inspirations, Harry Styles, expressed an interesting view on songwriting in an interview with Zane Lowe about his new album “Fine Line.” Takesh is inspired by Styles’ techniques and tries to parallel them when she writes her own songs

“[Styles] compared the process to surfing. You have to practice getting on the board enough times so that when the wave comes, you can actually ride it,” Takesh said. “I completely agree, because I can’t just sit down and tell myself, ‘we’re going to write a song today and it’s going to be really good.’ It just doesn’t work.” 


Berta Bunch 

Producing from her bedroom, Berta Bunch has four singles, “Drop It,” “Real,” “Most Nights” and “Anyone but You,” released on all platforms, including Spotify. Photo by Natalie Tress.

Senior Berta Bunch has been singing since she could talk and playing piano since the age of five. She has also taught herself to play the guitar and ukulele throughout her childhood. As a ten-year-old, Bunch remembers writing her first emotional song when her parents got divorced. Bunch found that the emotional vulnerability she felt during this time was an inspirational starting point and uses this emotion, as it relates to herself and others, in her songwriting.

“Music has always been a form of therapy for me. Whatever is going on in my life, I write about [it],” Bunch said. “I have been trying to write from other peoples’ perspectives, which is really different for me. I’ve written songs about what my friends are going through, or I’ll exaggerate a scenario, [so] it becomes more relatable.”

Bunch has released four singles and currently has several more in the works that she hopes to release soon. Bunch would like to expand her musical career in college and in the future. She has applied to many college music programs across the country, Los Angeles being her ideal destination. There, she expects to expand her music into new styles, furthering her musical education. 

Bunch loves exploring and experimenting with different concepts in her songwriting and is determined to pursue a musical profession. 

“If I come up with a new idea or a perspective of a song, it inspires me,” Bunch said. “I’m excited by all of it.”

To support these student artists, find Byrnes, Takesh and Bunch’s released songs on all music platforms, including Spotify and YouTube.