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The Blue & Gray Press | April 22, 2019

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Musician profile: Drake Dragone creates thematic music

By ALLISON TOVEY

Staff Writer

A senior music major focusing on composition and music technology, Drake Dragone writes about a lot of serious subject matter. But he makes it cathartic and joyful with the help of the Fredericksburg music scene.

“I like to think that I’m a happy, bubbly person but a lot of the music that I write, and that my friends write by extension, is all very depressing and tackles lot of serious things. A lot of us are writing really depressive music and we might be depressed, anxious people, but doing it together is such a happy thing. Being able to share that and talk about it is joyful. That’s definitely what I’m trying to get across is- things are sad sometimes but it’s okay and you’re not alone on that,” Dragone said.

His emotionally vivid soundscapes work to capture a feeling, a moment. “I have a piece about one of my friends trying to commit suicide and it’s loud and it’s scary, but what’s nice about it is every time I perform it, someone comes up to me and they’re like ‘That was really important to me’ and I’m like ‘Thank you, I appreciate that’. I guess that’s what I’m trying to do,” said Dragone..

Since coming to UMW, Dragone has gotten heavily involved with the Fredericksburg and UMW music scene and often incorporates his friends into his works for class as he studies composition. “It brings the DIY aesthetic to academic music which is awesome, and I love it,” said Dragone. A Richmond native, Dragone was hesitant at first coming to UMW since he wasn’t familiar with the area. Shortly thereafter, he befriended fellow student musicians and began working with student bands like Infant Island, Smallhands, and So Badly.

“What I really like about Fredericksburg as a whole is all of us are very friendly and collaborative with each other. If you need help with something, someone else will help you,” Dragone said. “I guess that’s my process, getting the bones of a song and asking my friends to help me.”

It wasn’t until Dragone’s eighth grade year that he became interested in making music when a friend asked him to play drums in their band despite Dragone never having played the drums. His love of music was sparked, however, and soon after he learned to play guitar followed by starting to play a variety of other instruments with the philosophy, “Ever since I’ve been here, I’ve tried to not be great at anything, but to be as good at as many instruments as I can.”

As Dragone began performing music regularly with bands, he knew that making and playing music was a passion he wanted to pursue seriously. “The first time I knew I wanted to do music forever, I played a show with my second band- I think we played to five people- but just feeling that was really nice, all these people watching you and performing in front of people. I wanted to keep playing music so I was like ‘I’m gonna be a rock star!’ but that mindset has definitely changed. I did an arrangement for my high school jazz band and I was like ‘Alright, I want to compose,’” said Dragone.

Dragone now focuses on writing compositional pieces, a career path he hopes to continue in the graduate schools he’s currently applying to. Dragone describes his compositions as, “six to ten minute thematic pieces of music” that feature ambient piano and post-rock music that he writes with other local composers. “I’m primarily a guitarist and violinist, but I’ve done a lot with piano in my compositions and writing for school. I did a commercial for the school and I’m doing some other stuff where I’m doing a lot of computer music. A lot of it is MIDI and I’m making it all on the computer,” Dragone said.

As for his future plans with music, Dragone hopes to release a piano album by the end of the year and continue working on a hip-hop project with “literally everyone I know, which is going to be really cool if it ever comes out,” Dragone said laughing. “That’s really it for me for right now, I think. A lot of piano music and a lot of really weird hip-hop music, I hope.”
Dragone’s compositional work can be found on his soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/drakedragone