An undergraduate band called “Toil!” — composed of Luca Scoppetta-Stern ’23, Dani Zanuttini-Frank ’22, Jason Altshuler ’23 and Cameron Berg ’23 — released its first EP titled, “Night Out With Toil” last Thursday.
The four members met during their first year, in 2018, through undergraduate musical organizations and mutual friends. They began playing minor gigs together, and grew to perform at larger establishments like Toad’s Place, Yale Radio House and Yale Farm. The EP has four songs, titled, “Cask,” “Maybe It’s Real,” “Stalagmite” and “Proud.” The band hopes to share their joy of playing together.
“We’d play these concerts that were a night out for us and a night out for the people who came,” Zanuttini-Frank said. “That was the experience that we were hoping to package with the album.”
The origins of Toil! trace back to a night during the members’ first year, when Zanuttini-Frank introduced Scoppetta-Stern to Altshuler. That night, the three musicians played music together for a few hours and realized they had potential as a group.
“The three of us immediately hit it off both as friends and also as musicians,” Altshuler said. “It was pretty clear that we had something there, so we kept on playing.”
Typically, Zanuttini-Frank and Altshuler play guitar or bass and Scoppetta-Stern plays keyboard. In the spring of 2019, Berg joined the band as a drummer, and several months of playing gigs and concerts ensued.
Even though the members always wanted to eventually record their music, they first focused on playing together and getting to know each other as musicians.
“Once we had what we thought was a well crafted live sound, we got to feel like we were really cohesive as a unit,” Zanuttini-Frank said. “Then we were like, ‘All right, let’s record.’”
According to Altshuler, Toil!’s music mixes rock and R&B, but it is unique because the members have different musical backgrounds. Zanuttini-Frank is a classical guitarist, Altshuler enjoys playing rock and Scoppetta-Stern is a jazz pianist and composer.
Berg said the goal of the EP is to display the “diversity” of Toil!’s sound. Each of the four songs presents different aspects of the band’s sound, while showing musical complexity and the members’ deep jazz influences.
Toil!’s main songwriters are Scoppetta-Stern and Altshuler, but all members value collaboration throughout the writing and recording processes. Zanuttini-Frank recounted when he once had an idea for a guitar riff and sent a voice memo of himself playing to Scoppetta-Stern. Scoppetta-Stern later turned it into a song. On the EP, three songs were written by Scoppetta-Sternand and one by Altshuler.
Toil! recorded the songs in February, avoiding the complications of recording music during a pandemic. In the past few months, they worked to “mix” and “master” their sounds.
Berg said that the members’ friendship creates a sense of playfulness and mutual support in the band. For Altshuler, playing together feels “natural and organic.”
“They are some of my closest friends at Yale, and they’re all amazing musicians,” Altshuler said. “We’re always just laughing and joking around. Being able to have the opportunity to have both an interpersonal and musical connection with people at the same time is really powerful.”
All four members were originally members of the Class of 2022, but three, Berg, Scoppetta-Stern and Altshuler, are on leaves of absence.
Marisol Carty | email@example.com