Meet CMP Senior Saqeef Ali
Music classes, performances and musicians have the biggest exposure in SFUAD’s Contemporary Music Program, but students also fill all the behind-the-scenes roles as well. With state of the art recording studios and opportunities to work at live music events in the O’Shaughnessey Performance Space and around campus, it shouldn’t be a surprise that many CMP students enjoy exploring the world of music recording and production.
Graduating senior Saqeef Ali, however, did not expect to be so taken with the production aspects of music. “I came to this school and I auditioned as a vocal major so I submitted tracks of me singing and I got in and for the first year or so…I was like ‘Oh, I’m going to sing.’” But like all majors, CMP has a few required classes that take students outside of their genre of choice. “They told us ‘You need to be in [Recording] Tech and you have to take two semesters of Rec Tech,’” Ali says. “So I took Rec Tech I…We get hands on, have something to record or something to mix, we’re learning about different programs…That was interesting to me. And then we got to Rec Tech II and that’s where my current musical goals come from.” In Rec Tech II, students have a final grade based on music recording and mixing projects they work on independently throughout the semester. This freedom allowed Ali to discover his passion for music production and since then it has been his primary focus.
Ali, like many musicians, got started with music at a very young age. He joined his elementary school choir in fourth grade and stuck with it all the way through high school graduation and into the first couple years of college. “In elementary it was like a fun thing…But middle school, that’s when you have guys choir and girls choir…I was starting to take it really seriously during that time. I felt like I was doing really well and my teacher was great. I got into high school and I just tried really hard…and the top choir was called acapella. And so when I did my audition I got into acapella my freshman year.” In his junior year of high school, Ali made the All-State choir in Texas. All-State is an annual competition for high school students in performing arts at their schools, such as choir, band and orchestra. It brings together all the student performers and the best are chosen to perform a concert. “It was an insane experience and it really made me realize that I wanted to do music,” Ali says.
Since his change in interest from vocal performance to music production, Ali has been working on projects with various SFUAD bands, such as the Laser Cats, and musicians looking to record solo EPs and albums. While Ali is graduating in the spring, he has projects lined up through the summer. “I have a couple different groups who have been wanting to record some stuff and so we’re all staying for the summer and they’re like ‘Yeah, we’ll just record some stuff here,’” Ali says. “And [CMP Chairman] Horace [Young] is totally cool with us using the recording studio over the summer so we’re going to try to get some EPs or albums, whatever they want, done over the summer while we can.” Ali is also planning on looking for opportunities to work live sound. His time at SFUAD has not only given him a diverse set of skills but also the freedom to discover this new passion. “I’m really glad I came here because I feel like it helped me find something different and it helped me learn more about the musical world.”