Dreams becoming reality


Jonathon Page and Jane Jeong

It begins with the strumming of a guitar, soon joined by a deep, mourning cello. Then, a soft voice starts to sing, almost whispering the lyrics of the first lines of the song. It’s a song called “Asleep” that has been growing in popularity on the playlists of students at NHS. It’s a track from NHS senior Gavin Cooley’s first EP, or album, “Because I’m Dreaming,” which features three songs. But each of Cooley’s tracks has its own unique messages and inspirations.

Like many students, Cooley has been around music throughout his school years; however, he says it was middle school when his teacher, Daniel Hedlund, peaked his interest in music through orchestra.

“Mr. Hedlund was the first music teacher I had in school where I was like ‘This is something I can make,’” Cooley said.

Despite his love for music, songwriting, singing, piano, and guitar weren’t always Cooley’s biggest interests.

“He was really focused on swimming, and he was in orchestra, and he played guitar, but it wasn’t like his interest,” said Jason Jasper, Cooley’s recording arts and music production teacher. “Voice and guitar were not what he was doing at the time. He was more of a classical musician that was interested in playing a little bit of guitar here and there.”

According to Cooley, Jasper’s support has been a catalyst in Cooley’s growing interest in songwriting and his lyrical maturity.

“Mr. Jasper was the first person who was like ‘Hey, you should actually pursue this’ because my first songs were about Pizza Hut and stupid stuff. He kind of saw through [me],” Cooley said. “I was scared of expressing myself because I didn’t want to be criticized or whatever, or do it wrong. And he helped me realize that as long as I said how I felt, I wasn’t doing anything wrong.”

Cooley has taken Jasper’s advice to heart and has continued to write songs by simply sitting down and letting lyrics and music flow out.

“It’s a lot of just like screwing around. I will probably write 15-20 songs that are total crap and I will play them once and never play them again,” Cooley said. “I will sit down and pick up my guitar or at the piano and a song will just fall out. Those are the ones that I end up sticking with.”

Cooley has taken inspiration for his songs from surprising people, even people that he didn’t and wouldn’t want to know.

“The second song on the album is called ‘Fox Hollow’ [and] is about Herb Baumeister, and he is from Westfield, and he was a serial killer. He would go to gay clubs in Indianapolis and bring guys back to his house and strangle him and bury them in the backyard,” Cooley said. “And that is terrible, and I feel weird writing a song like that, but what intrigued me about that is that you hear about that stuff, but it’s not that close. My mom is from Westfield and she was like literally three minutes away from where he lived which is interesting to me.”

With all of these ideas running around Cooley’s head, it would be hard for him to make all the songs by himself. However, Cooley received valuable help for “Because I’m Dreaming” from other talented musicians.

“I was lucky enough because Mr. Jasper plays the saxophone solo on “Asleep,” Noel Dennis plays the cello part on “Asleep”, and Annie Hawkins does backing vocals on “Asleep” and “Lilac Girl”,” Cooley said, “So I was lucky enough to get other people to help me.”

Jasper, Hawkins, and Dennis have all praised “Because I’m Dreaming.” Even those who aren’t students at NHS have enjoyed the album.

“I’ve listened to the album a couple times through and I really like it! The musicality is at such a high level for someone his age. He’s done an extremely good job with each of the songs,” Dennis said. “When I showed my family the EP they really enjoyed it as well—they said they liked how the vocal and musical parts flowed together.”

Several musicians have helped Cooley with his latest project. As a result, Cooley wants to pay it back by giving other high school musicians a platform to perform through the Songwriter Series, a regularly scheduled performance that is managed, booked, and promoted by Cooley.

“Every fourth Friday of the month I have songwriters from around Hamilton County that are in high school go to Logan Street sanctuary and they play some of their songs and play some covers. Its gives kids a chance to play their songs in front of people,” Cooley said. “You can get a lot of restaurant gigs around here where you can play covers, but people aren’t listening to you. At Logan Street, it’s [a] chance for a crowd to come, they’ll sit down and listen and you have a chance to play for people.”

Cooley says his life right now is all about music. And he doesn’t think that is going to change any time soon since he plans on making music for the rest of his life.

“I plan on doing it for the rest of my life,” Cooley said. “I don’t know where it came from, but this is what I’m suppose to be doing.


Click here to listen to “Because I’m Dreaming” on Spotify!