Teens defy all odds and release debut album through pandemic

As the world was flash-frozen last March, artists internationally found themselves isolated from their studios, audiences, and creative tools. Written off as a throwaway year for many, teenagers Rowin Scott, Marina Furst, and Gia Brutto embraced it as the opportunity they never saw coming. As they collaborated through masked faces and copious amounts of sanitizer, the band transcended genre and traditional style to produce an album titled “Topazuli-the only reason I remember that.”  

A full studio-length recording, the album features nine tracks, each vastly different from the previous with its own storyline and instrumental intricacies. Tracks burst to life over the course of twelve months as band members intuitively crafted their parts of each song to match the others’, with Marina, the lead vocalist and drummer often frantically scribbling lyrics out on the drumhead, Gia improvising floral riffs on the keyboard, and Rowin rocking out solos on electric guitar.  

The players are wildly unique, and from an outside perspective, the band may seem like an unlikely group. No player is exactly alike, as each finds themselves drawing inspiration from vastly different genres---influences of which are found in each track on the album. 

With sixteen-year-old Marina’s theatrical vocals and vivid lyrics of alternate universes and ghosts, the influences of the surrealist avant-garde Lemon Demon can’t be missed. Described by Furst as “raw and just all over the place,” the lyrics in Lemon Demons tracks fuelled her inspiration to be as experimental and authentic to her passion as she wants. “I don't know what draws me to it. I just love the nonsense of it. And the fact that maybe something can be derived from that nonsense or it is just nonsense,” said Furst--and this translated perfectly into the impromptu writing and recording of tracks like “Gravitational Laws 3/ ghost dimension,” “The Christmas Temp or Dearest Phantoms,” and “People are Robots'' which all feature enthralling characters in unpredictably spiraling storylines.  

With a more traditional approach to music, keyboardist Gia provided a clean contrast to the illustrative and experimental lyrics, adding rigidity to each track. Layer by layer, individually recorded instruments manifested each member’s ideas as the songs sprung to life within just an hour and a half, the length of three-person group sessions at Creative Music Institute.  

Through the show-stopping vocals and keyboard embellishments, the energizing guitar solos from seventeen-year-old Rowin Scott strike the listener. As a guitar major at Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts, Scott finds self-expression in the language of electric guitar solos. With just a chord progression and half a second’s worth of thought, the magic on each track comes from spontaneous combinations of single notes, chords, bends, and other technical wonders on his electric guitar. On his fully original song “Heart Break Blues,” the guitarist’s love for music like the psych-rock groups Phish and The Grateful Dead can be heard in each riff, as the song emulates the artists’ colorful yet soulful styles. With his work on the electric drum machine, electric bass, guitars, jazz organ, percussion overdub, digital synth tone, and blues guitar, Scott speaks to the listener from his heart. “I think my best work comes when I truly am thinking of nothing---when my mind is just blank,” said Scott when asked about how the ideas of his characteristic solos form.  

After mixing, editing, and polishing the recordings, the album was uploaded to SoundCloud where it is now available online to the public. As they sat back and listened to the tracks played together, the members not only were extremely proud of the creative work done on the piece but also found themselves energized and ready to continue to a new project. With 2021 already well underway, the group is currently making new recordings and thriving with their tried and tested dynamic of spontaneous group work, while also experimenting and broadening their horizons as musicians. Exploring her interest in mixing, Furst has her eye on engaging in more the technical aspects of production, while Scott is working on expanding his vocal skills with an intent to sing more on future recordings. Defying all odds with such a phenomenal product in a year like 2020, the band shrugged off struggles that may have barricaded others from excelling. With work already coming together in 2021, they are sure to amaze once again. 


Adithi Katikhaneni

CMI Music News