Sound Source: Ferret Bueller is Making Music Together, Even While Apart

Onyekaorisé Chigbogwu, Reporter

Gwen Giedeman is a Communication first-year at Northwestern. She plays in Ferret Bueller along with three other students from Chicagoland universities. The rock band’s members talk through their creative process and how they have adjusted as a result of COVID-19.

ONYEKAORISÉ CHIGBOGWU: From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Onyekaorisé Chigbogwu, and you’re listening to Sound Source.

NYEKAORISÉ CHIGBOGWU: This is Ferret Bueller, a rising indie-rock band in the Chicagoland area. The band has thousands of streams on Spotify and an EP set to release this summer.

GWEN GIEDEMAN: My name is Gwen Giedeman and I’m a part of the band Ferret Bueller. I’m the lead vocalist, and I play guitar and bass. We’re just a band of friends. Indie-rock, sort of like bedroom music. Not really lo-fi but soft fun music. Just for people who want to feel things.

ONYEKAORISÉ CHIGBOGWU: Gwen leads Ferret Bueller which began as her own solo project in 2018. She says she’s not even sure how the name came to be, but when the rest of the band joined forces the next year, the name stuck.

GWEN GIEDEMAN: When I came to Northwestern for school, I knew several people in the Chicago area who were all involved in music, and like we had played a festival together in Chicago. Nayla Jungheim — she’s our bassist and also does guitar. Hammad Imam — he’s lead guitarist. And then Zack Miller’s our drummer. We all had solo projects to begin with before this. We just fulfill whatever role the others need in their bands.

ONYEKAORISÉ CHIGBOGWU: Zack doesn’t lead a project, but Nayla, a student at Dominican University, leads Jungheim. Hammad, a University of Illinois at Chicago sophomore, is the star of Light Blue Lines. Each writes the music for their own acts, so for Ferret Bueller, Gwen writes the songs.

GWEN GIEDEMAN: So, I generally write the skeleton of the song. I just have a list of notes in my phone — anything I think of. And sometimes I’ll write lyrics with guitar at the same time and sometimes I’ll just write lyrics and be like, “Welp we’ll figure out what fits with this later.”

ONYEKAORISÉ CHIGBOGWU: Next, Gwen sends her work to the other members and they add their own flavor to it. Hammad says this back and forth is important to the band’s process.

HAMMAD IMAM: A lot of our creative process is us sending Google Drive links or iPhone recordings back and forth to each other.

ONYEKAORISÉ CHIGBOGWU: Hamad lays down guitar riffs. Next, Zack Miller, a journalism student at Loyola University Chicago, develops a drum pattern.

ZACK MILLER: When I’m writing drums, Gwen will send me a voice memo on the phone — of them playing with the guitar and singing over it. Then I blast my headphones and I sit down at my drum kit for the next like 30 minutes to get a feel for what I think it should sound like.

ONYEKAORISÉ CHIGBOGWU: Nayla plays bass and works on recording and mixing the songs. When the band comes together, the music does as well. Nayla says one of her favorite memories with the band came when recording “Tell You All the Time,” a song she had written three years prior.

NAYLA JUNGHEIM: We were recording one of the songs for the upcoming EP. When I wrote it, I didn’t have any bandmates at all. It was the first time I had heard Zack playing drums along to “Tell You all the Time.” I remember, after hearing him play the drums I just told him I was like, “That is what I’ve heard in my head for the past three years. That is exactly what I’ve heard.” And it felt so awesome.

ONYEKAORISÉ CHIGBOGWU: However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the band has had to change their process for creating music.

GWEN GIEDEMAN: Nayla has an entire studio in her basement. She has a bunch of recording gear. I had to buy a new guitar because all of my instruments were on campus, and I can’t go back to get them yet. But, I’ve been writing.

ONYEKAORISÉ CHIGBOGWU: Nayla says this change has forced her to be even more creative with making music from a distance.

NAYLA JUNGHEIM: For the first couple weeks that quarantine happened, I felt powerless, but I learned to improvise. So it’s really encouraged me to be versatile with music because who could have predicted that we would all be stuck inside by ourselves?

ONYEKAORISÉ CHIGBOGWU: Though stay-at-home orders have canceled some planned performances, Ferret Bueller is still driven by a love for music that comes from within.

GWEN GIEDEMAN: There’s just such a community around smaller independent artists who just are making music for the sake of making music, and I really like it. We’re just gonna put in as much as we want to get out of it and kind of see where it goes.

ONYEKAORISÉ CHIGBOGWU: From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Onyekaorisé Chigbogwu. Thanks for listening! Hope you’ll join us next time for another episode of Sound Source.

ONYEKAORISÉ CHIGBOGWU: This episode was reported and produced by me, Onyekaorisé Chigbogwu. The audio editor of The Daily Northwestern is Molly Lubbers, the digital managing editors are Kalen Luciano and Heena Srivastava, and the editor-in-chief is Marissa Martinez.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @Onyekaorise

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