Isabella Abbott | Features Editor
2018 Emmy award-winning artist and Pittsburgh native Frzy recently collaborated with seven Duquesne students on two tracks in his two albums, “Success” and “Popularity,” which were simultaneously released on Nov. 1.
Student and sound recording major Dannon Johnson coordinated the choir in the two songs.
After being asked by him to assemble the choir, Johnson decided to ask her peers in the Mary Pappert School of Music.
Matthew Guadagnino, Abigail Hill, Anna Hladio, Alex Hladio, Miah Sirianni and Kyle Stiver, agreed and, after only one night of recording, are featured on the albums.
However, this is not the first time Johnson has worked with Frzy. She has collaborated on a couple of other projects, including a Nickelodeon commercial and a music video for one of his songs, “Ugly Face.”
Johnson said over the past couple of years, Frzy has “taken me under his wing.”
The seven students are featured in his songs “No Love” and “Hell and Back.”
Johnson said she can hear her classmates throughout the tracks and can even pick apart who is singing.
She hopes to make her mark in the producer world, and collaborating with Frzy is a step in the right direction.
“My big goal is to be the first female to win the Grammy award for producer of the year because no one’s done that,” Johnson said.
After starting producing at the age of 14, Johnson’s passion is obvious. Even her tattoos, a Rupert Neve 5088 console, her studio’s first logo, a TV that ties into her studio’s name, a vintage-style microphone and a pair of headphones show her love for producing.
Her studio, “Guffy Cam Studios,” is a space she built from the ground up in the basement of her childhood home.
The name comes as a tribute to her father, who owned a business in their garage. He installed a camera overlooking their driveway and their street, Guffey Road, that ran to a TV to see incoming packages. Although he spelled the street wrong, Johnson named the space how he spelled it.
The one-night recording for Frzy’s album required Johnson to make the 6 person choir sound larger. However, bringing them into a studio with headphones wasn’t an option.
“I didn’t want these musicians to have headphones because these guys aren’t used to being in a studio, they’re used to being in a choir,” Johnson said. “I’m a big proponent of whatever makes them comfortable will give me a better product than me doing whatever else.”
So, Johnson decided to arrange them in an arc style at the PNC Recital Hall and then stacked the recordings on top of one another for the illusion of more singers. She thought the work turned out great.
“I was proud of myself for finagling that one I had some doubts from a couple of people that it wasn’t going to come out as cleanly as it did,” Johnson said.
Johnson will also work at the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra as they and Frzy perform his newly released album “Success” on Nov. 8 at Heinz Hall.
She said that the show would be recorded and considered for a Grammy. If won, all students who participated would get credit for their work.
One of those students in the recordings, Abigail Hill, said recording the songs was “very different than anything that I’d ever done before” and that it was “really fun to explore different genres.”
“I’m really excited to hear the album now that all the other elements have been added,” Hill said.
Another student featured, Alexander Hladio said he enjoyed working with Frzy who had a “clear vision of how he wanted the music to sound.”
“He stayed open to new ideas; though there was lots of back and forth discussion and I think our best cuts came from experimentation stemming from this discussion,” Hladio said. “He was blown away when we came up with new harmonies on the spot.”
The albums “Success” and “Popularity” are opposites of one another. Johnson said, “It’s a back and forth between popularity and success.”
“They tell different sides of what’s more important to an artist, being commercially popular or being successful,” Johnson said.
“Feeling successful versus having fake followers.”
Johnson feels that she is successful in her work.
Her advice for students looking to get into the producing world is to get the most out of every experience.
“The way I’ve found the success that I have is by not being afraid to proudly wear that you want it,” Johnson said. “It’s owning whatever aspect of you is unique to you.”