With a little help from their friends—and the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus—students at Vancouver School of Arts and Academics recently came together to record and film an original song and music video, all in one day.
Lennon’s eponymous bus, a nonprofit recording and production facility backed by Yoko Ono Lennon and sponsors, drops in at approximately 200 schools per year. Its VSAA visit on Feb. 16 and 17 was the first Washington stop in more than a year and its first return to the school since 2011.
Students toured the facility on the first day. The following day, the core songwriting and recording team of students worked in the bus and filmed their music video.
The result is “Two Dimensional.” The title is a rebuke of superficial assessments, and the song borrows from a genre that also resists facile characterizations: jazz.
“We wanted to do kind of a newer jazz feel,” said senior Hunter Gillam, who played the saxophone on the track and contributed vocals.
Yet much like the Beatles’ music, “Two-Dimensional” blends musical styles. “It’s a cross of Moonchild, neo-soul, jazz and R&B,” Gillam explained. “Heavy hip-hop drums. A lot of complex chords. It’s pretty groovin’.”
The students all play instruments—some even play multiple instruments. Still, the songwriting, recording and editing process challenged them. “I’ve learned how to collaborate with people that I haven’t played with before,” said junior Nikolas Barber.
The Lennon bus’s two studios and state-of-the-art audio and video equipment and software let their imaginations riff under the guidance of three onboard engineers. “It’s fun to be able to use all this equipment,” said Emma Josephson. The senior spent the day filming with a camera she’d had her eye on for a while. She added that the experience was a “once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing.”
As was the chance to touch musical history. Said Barber, “Lennon is an important figure in American history and music history. It’s cool that his followers and people who really appreciate him made something like this so young people like us can make music and carry on the legacy he created.”