Arts and Entertainment

Pali Student Releases Original EP

“It definitely didn’t feel real — I didn’t really process it,” junior Ally McCoy said. McCoy, a dedicated Palisades Charter student and aspiring singer, had recently released her first EP, or extended play, on iTunes. “It was shocking ‘cause it’s something I always did for fun, just look up my name on iTunes and see nothing…
<a href="" target="_self">Nicole Levi</a>

Nicole Levi

April 23, 2018

McCoy’s interest in singing blossomed at a young age.

“Ally was passionate about singing as long as we can remember her even talking,” her mother, Amy McCoy said. “She always sang whether it was in the bath as a cute little toddler, when she was lying in bed before she went to sleep, when she woke up, in the car….just about always.”

Her path began in elementary school when she was a part a STAR Education program.

“I won that the first year I did it, and that kind of ignited something in me. I felt empowered by that,” McCoy recalled. Once she discovered her passion, McCoy began working with a voice teacher in order to perfect her singing. “I really feel that without her I would’ve blown out my voice; she helped me reach notes I probably could have never reached. I think my life would have been very different if I hadn’t decided to go down that route,” McCoy commented.

After continuing with STAR for three years, McCoy was recruited for the “All Star Rockstar Band,” a band she performed with until the beginning of her sophomore year. It was with this band that McCoy first attempted to record her songs, an endeavor which ultimately did not work out. They realized that the recording process was difficult, but learned a lot for future recordings.

McCoy’s singing did not end with the band, as she continued to participate in school musicals such as Spamalot and The Producers, as well as in concert choir. McCoy started a band again at the beginning of her junior year with paid musicians, all of who are USC students, to play the bass, drums, guitar, and saxophone. With her new band, McCoy is able to focus more on performing her original music. Sometimes called “Ally and the Trojans,” they have played at venues such as Genghis Cohen, the Mint, and Pali’s own Friday Night Live.

Over the most recent winter break, McCoy decided to take a shot at recording her songs. She found a producer through her former piano teacher, found musicians to record with, and then came in multiple times to brainstorm ideas, rehearse, and record. The songs then had to be “mixed”, blending in the drums, saxophone, and guitar with McCoy’s voice.

The best “mixes” of each song were chosen for the EP and then mastered, which makes the songs “radio quality”. Finally, on March 2. the EP was released on iTunes. It is now available on Spotify, YouTube, Google Play, Amazon Music, and Pandora as well.

“I feel like I really got something tangible out of [the EP] which was really nice. Because performances are definitely fleeting; they’re nice and you get the rush of compliments, and then it’s over, and it never happened. Having original music has much more longevity,” McCoy said.

Though McCoy has written many songs, she decided to chose four that she felt were really strong for the EP. Most of them are rock songs, except for “Good Without the Bad”, which is a ballad. This slow and sentimental tune was inspired by the song “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac. Written in her freshman year, it laments the fact that “the good never comes without the bad” while telling a story about receiving bad news.

“I’m not gonna lie, it’s not a personal story, it’s kind of just made up around the idea,” McCoy said. “I remember the day before [I wrote it] I saw this really pretty sunset, and that gave way to some of the nature analogies in the song. I remember looking in the mirror, looking at myself and I was like, ‘I gotta finish this song; I gotta write a song around this,’ and for the next hour I just sat in my room and wrote out the whole song.”

Also written in McCoy’s freshman year was “O.C.D.” When she worried that she was being stared at because of a visually obvious pattern that she would do with her locker, McCoy thought up the first line of this song: “Don’t look at me.” Prone to basing songs off of key phrases, McCoy developed the whole song from this line. “I made sure not to ever say O.C.D in the song, because I feel like it’s applicable to pretty much anything anyone could go through. By naming it O.C.D. I clarified what it was for me, but I don’t think it has to be that for everyone,” McCoy explained.

“Me, Myself, And I”, though also written when McCoy was a freshman, had been acapella until this year, when her USC band helped her set it to music. This catchy song was built off of the phrase in its title, and praises being independent and self reliant: “‘Cause I’ve got me, myself, and I. No need to cry, I’m satisfied.”

Finally, “Ray of Sunshine”, written last summer, is the newest of the EP’s songs. In this song, McCoy addresses and criticizes a narcissistic person, sarcastically asking, “Aren’t you a ray of sunshine, girl?” McCoy described the songs origins, saying “I’ve met a ton of arrogant people in my life, and, you know, I thought of ‘ray of sunshine’ and how its usually associated with good things, so I [decided to] take something good and make it bad… I’m not a fan of the condescending attitude, I hate people that are obsessed with themselves.”

All of these songs are ones that McCoy has performed live before, and thus felt confident about.

“I’m not surprised at all that Ally would do this,” said Joshua Elson, director of the Choral Program at Pali. “She has a strong work ethic and a internal drive. She is very motivated and passionate about her music.” Elson has been working with McCoy through sixth period concert choir, and has listened to her EP.

“Her songwriting is clever and smart, her vocals are soulful and effortless, and the production on the recordings are really well done,” he said. “I’m very proud of her.”

Creating the EP is just one step in what McCoy hopes will be a long term journey as a singer.

“The goal is to make a career out of it,” she explained. “How realistic that is, I don’t really know. I mean I would love it to be.” Though McCoy does not have a clear vision of what the future holds, and knows that college will be a part of it, she is not planning on abandoning her path as a singer. “I definitely feel like a robot at school, a machine, but I feel a tiny bit less like a machine when I do music,” she said.

Both of her parents have been supportive throughout McCoy’s singing career, and her mother stated, “We feel that whether Ally pursues a career in singing, producing, writing, composing or so many other avenues, she will find joy in it as it fills her soul and makes her who she is.”

Right now, promoting the EP is McCoy’s primary concern. Explaining that most albums do not gain popularity overnight McCoy said, “I have to keep working on making this. I can’t move on from this so quickly; I have to keep pushing this as much as humanly possible and into as many hands as possible.” She has also created physical CD’s of the EP, which she plans on selling by creating a website, and at performances. “I’m just gonna gig and promote the hell out of this like it just came out yesterday,” she promised.

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