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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Hidden Gems of iTunes

Published: January 27, 2012
Section: Arts, Etc.

I always enjoy finding singles by unknown artists on iTunes. They are often better than current mainstream artists. In contrast to hearing the same Top 40 song in the grocery store, the melodies and lyrics of unknown artists are often more meaningful and familiar to my ear.
This was once again the case when I discovered the single “Keepsake” by Christian Wolfe, featuring Brandeis student Lily Montagna ’15. The melody of the single is easy to sing along to and, when combined with the lyrics, makes for a powerful song. “Keepsake” is an easy song to which to listen and to learn quickly to love. The harmonies add aspects to the song that make it more interesting to hear. The lyrics are powerful and speak to anyone who has experienced heartbreak at any point in their life. The music is intriguing and at times haunting. “Keepsake” connects with the listener and makes you want to listen to the song over and over again. The lyrics “love is a fool without a name, cause nothing can ever be too good to be true, not in life, not in love” give a strong, empowering message to the listeners.
Because unknown artists are never highlighted, we as listeners never get to hear their perspective on the process of putting out music, a fact that should be acknowledged. In fact, we also don’t often hear how they got started in music. Montagna and Wolfe attended the same high school in the Boston area in a graduating class of 44 people. They began writing their first song at the end of their junior year. Their song “Chandelier” was finally completed late last year after many months of working on the project on and off.
During their junior and senior years of high school, they were heavily involved in their music as well as leading worship at their society’s chapel services and youth groups. By working so closely with each other, Montagna and Wolfe developed a chemistry that translated to a strong bond between the two. They came to know what to expect from one another in the process of working together with their talents and abilities.
After high school ended, Wolfe began dedicating his time to working and playing music. Montagna began her first year at Brandeis in the fall and plans to study the sciences in order to become a nurse practitioner or go into another medical profession. Even though they are at different points in their lives, they are both devoted to their band Bastogne and the upcoming album.
When asked about the name of their band, Montagna explained that is the location of the Battle of the Bulge. They named their band after the location of the battle in order to represent the perseverance of the paratroopers who fought. As to the process of writing their own music and lyrics and then recording, Wolfe and Montagna agree that the music they produce is meaningful and then volunteered the elements that help create that feeling. Montagna explained, “The guitar strum, the intensity of the vocals, the harmony, and the beat or speed all reflect meaning behind each song.” She goes on to explain, “Our lyrics are very deliberate. Christian insists on having meaning or connotation behind every phrase or key word and he avoids being cliche.”
Additionally, as Montagna continued in the interview: “I’ve learned how difficult it is for people to actually make music, and that’s helped me to really appreciate what musicians and song-writers do, specifically ones who record their own music [versus having it recorded for them in a nice studio].”
Their experience of putting together music for Wolfe was learning new techniques every now and then since he has been working with music for a while. Montagna uses song writing as a way to express her thoughts and emotions in a concrete yet physically intangible way. “Keepsake,” in particular, is based on personal experiences. As Wolfe says, “The song speaks about heartbreak and separation.”
They hope to release the rest of their album “Solus,” meaning alone or unaccompanied, by this spring. The complete album will show their desire to create a diversity of songs. Montagna commented that another important element of song writing is support for the musicians. One of their statuses on their Facebook page titled Bastogne, says: “Thank you everyone for your support and free advertising! It may not seem like it, but with every post you guys put up, more people find my page and music.”
Wolfe and Montagna are both very passionate about the music they produce as well as the process and this comes across in “Keepsake.”
The song, as well as Wolfe’s other single “Road With You,” is available for download on iTunes.