After months of dedication, teamwork and flexibility, the members of Just Duet, an a cappella group at Miami University, released their EP, “In Dreams.”
The group’s EP features covers “Fallin” by Alicia Keys, “Sleep” by Allen Stone, “Death by a Thousand Cuts” by Taylor Swift, “Trampoline” by SHAED and “Think About Things” by Daoi Freyr
Just Duet’s president, Emmet Knee, said the idea for a recording project arose when members found themselves unable to obtain rehearsal space and hold live performances.
“Me and the rest of our exec board kind of thought the best option for us would be some sort of recording project,” Knee said. “So, we wanted to maybe do an album or an EP, which gives us a shorter album with fewer songs.”
Knee said the group’s departure from its usual path of rehearsing for live performances was tough, especially for seniors who would miss their long-anticipated senior concert.
“In a normal year we have a senior concert where they pick a song that they solo on, and they have one last concert with everyone that's special for them,” Knee said. “It's pretty emotional, telling them we’ve got to work really hard on these songs when there wasn't necessarily that physical end goal of performing on stage.”
Each semester, Just Duet holds a song selection meeting where the exec board and members pitch their ideas, PR and Marketing Lead Jenna Walter said. They went about the same process for selecting songs for their album.
“We did that song selection, and coincidentally, we didn't go into this thinking ‘in dreams,’ or having a theme that we chose,” Walter said. “But all the songs that we chose were about sleep or dreaming or had something to do with the concept of dream. It’s kind of a funny coincidence, but that's how the album came about.”
Walter pitched the album name and designed the cover.
“We had a brainstorm session, and I wanted the word dreams to be in the title, and I did a word dance and was just playing around with different words,” Walter said. “I pitched ‘In Dreams,’ and people liked it a lot.”
Although the group originally hadn’t been very enthusiastic about the song, Knee said his favorite on their album is “Death by a Thousand Cuts.”
“It's the first song that I ever arranged for the group, and I spent a really, really long time on it,” Knee said. “I think for a lot of people it's like, ‘What is this random ‘Death by a Thousand Cuts’ song?’ but I think the song lends itself to be really good in an arrangement and it's got a pretty nice build at the end.”
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Walter said the group kept all its members as involved as possible as the album was a result of everyone’s contributions.
“We couldn't use any of the academic buildings or any practice rooms, so we opted to use our off-campus members' houses [for recording],” Walter said. “With that comes a lot of conflicts because our roommates need to sleep to do work, and they don't want to hear us screeching and singing. But our members were so awesome and generous and so were their roommates.”
Music Director Hannah Chauvin said her favorite part about the project was the recording days.
“I got to see everyone be showcased and be proud,” Chauvin said. “We recorded everything individually, so every individual group member came in and put on their headphones and recorded just them, and it was just really rewarding to see every individual member be proud that they learned and memorized and retained the old music,” Chauvin said.
Chauvin said Just Duet chose to arrange the music themselves to save money and make the songs more personal to the group.
Walter said one of the things she believes makes “In Dreams” special is the chance it gave non-exec members of Just Duet to lead and showcase their talents.
Members Luke Sarrazine and Basim Jassani arranged two of the songs for “In Dreams.”
“They weren't on exec, but they had a leadership position in the way that they arranged the songs, and in rehearsals, they would say, ‘Hey I was picturing it to sound this way,’” Walter said.
Knee said the EP is the product of determination and hardwork under a unique set of circumstances.
“It's been super rewarding to get positive feedback from family and friends and other groups and even people we don't really know,” Knee said. “It's been a very, very rewarding process.”
“In Dreams” can be found on Spotify.