Midnight on Oct. 25, campus artist and Whiffenpoof Xavier Washington ’20 was at a Halloween party, scrambling to promote his latest song “Never Again.”
Washington thought the song’s release would occur a day later. The unexpected release prompted him to scramble to promote his work. His efforts were fruitful. As of the following Sunday, “Never Again” compiled 1,256 Spotify streams.
“[The song] felt emotional, and I thought relationships especially are emotional in a way we all identify with,” Washington said in an interview with the News. “And then I had my own relationship life. I wasn’t in a relationship, but I thought this project could be interesting.”
“Never Again” pines over unrequited love. “I thought we had just begun. I thought for sure that you were the one,” Washington sings in the R&B tune. The song’s content is delivered in a woeful past tense, reflecting how Washington was led on by a possible lover who “tore out [his] heart and left [him] for dead.” Washington concludes that this will never happen again, in what listens as a modern torch song.
The song is a collaboration between Washington and another campus artist and producer Sam Lopate ’20. The duo started working on the song towards the end of last semester and continued recording through the summer. After several months of work, Washington released “Never Again” on Spotify and Apple Music.
Last year, Lopate showed Washington an array of music samples he produced. The melody that became “Never Again” was one in this selection, and Washington said he particularly “liked where [it] was going.”
Washington picked out the melody and began recording the background harmonies.
“I think for this song, the idea wasn’t set in stone,” he said.
Washington said the process of finishing up the song’s melody was cumulative, and he was constantly adding elements over the course of several months.
From there, he wrote a chorus and began recording. After the semester ended, Washington traveled to New York to finish production. He said they recorded about every other weekend.
“We originally were thinking about releasing it over the summer and then it took a bit longer,” Washington, who was working on an online web series at the time, said. “Early response to the song has been really good. I guess I’m always very critical of myself, and I was really shocked by how much people liked it.”
Most of the recording took place in the home studio of aspiring music producer Justin Young ’18. Young said the production process was quite long.
“Sam had the majority of the production down,” Young said. “This was his brainchild, so to speak, from the melody of the song to production. The style of music that I make isn’t quite like that of ‘Never Again.’ It was cool to work on this because of the different ways we mix and master the music. Fixing minor things so the overall listening experience was better was really important for us.”
Lopate said that Young was an important mentor for him when he was first learning to produce music. They continued to reconfigure the layering of the melodies after all the vocals were recorded.
“It was good to have two sets of ears listening to it,” Lopate said. He added that he was proud of how it turned out. He intended to highlight Washington’s singing talents, and Lopate said he was “super happy” with how the sound came together.
Washington was a member of Shades and the Yale Glee Club before becoming a Whiffenpoof.
John Besche | firstname.lastname@example.org