Zachary Robinson-Holness ’24 (Bachelor of Arts in Collaborative Audio Arts) — also known as 571 — will present “I Wasn’t Thinking (where i’ve been),” an unreleased album that was self-produced, written and recorded over the summer, on Friday, Sept. 29, in the Harold Herman Lab Theatre on Shenandoah University’s main campus. With strong collaborative and reinforcement support from Valeria Otero ’23 (Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Design & Production – Lighting Design), the songs were mixed and mastered by Thomas Preston ’23 (Bachelor of Music in Music Production & Recording Technology) and the backing of sound for the show was handled by Wayne Romero ’24 (Bachelor of Music in Music Production & Recording Technology).
Student Reflections on the Creative Process
“This project was hindsight,” said Robinson-Holness. “I would’ve called it that if ‘I wasn’t thinking’ didn’t sound so much like me. When I created this project it was birthed from a period of recklessness, impulse, rash thinking mixed with euphoria and lust. I’m proud of the fact that I independently created a whole tape by myself. One of the songs off the project and setlist is ‘i don’t really care now;’ it will be released on all music platforms on Friday, Sept. 29, under the artist name ‘571.’”
“Almost a year ago to this day Val and I partnered for the second time and decided to put on our very own independent performance. We did everything from marketing and advertising, to producing and performing. Whilst I created my own music, my art, Val created theirs through animated lighting. We did it all, from the ground up. Now we do it better, with efficiency and dedication, from choreography to precise timing.
“Working with Val has made me feel like I have made a connection with a longtime collaborator and friend. I’m grateful to have met them. To know someone who’s dedicated, ambitious, experienced, and professional is a blessing. They’ve always been willing to lend a hand. Whether it was allowing me to be creative, or providing lighting support in my other musical endeavors, or even offering support with just personal matters. When you can bring one of the stories of your life – your art – to a person and they can take it to the next level it’s phenomenal, and Val is nothing less than a phenomenal person. I hope to continue to partner with them as we grow in our respective fields and I have no doubts that this is just the beginning of our joint ventures in our careers.”
– Zachary Robinson-Holness
“The liberty I have had in creating and designing personal shows has been rewarding not only professionally but personally. Collaborating with such a talented artist made me feel like I was part of something big; making a show from nothing but ideas and creativity is like birthing an entity to existence. I get to show what I am capable of, through my own artistic form.
“Through our various performances, I have seen Zach develop not only as an artist but as a person. His personal growth has fundamentally changed his artwork, and it’s a wonder to see it in person as time has passed by. As an artist he has refined himself. I’ve seen his stage presence grow, his choreography improve, his dedication to his brand persist. He pushes himself forward, he collects his life experiences and places it in his art. ‘I’ll put it all in the verse,’ said 571. There is not one person who I’ve collaborated with more than him.
Seeing it all happen before me and seeing him improve, I felt that I was cultivating an artist and I am proud. I have high hopes to see him outgrow his current capacity.”
– Valeria A. Otero
“In all my previous projects, I’ve had other producers come in and work with me,” said Robinson-Holness. I still needed assistance on the mixing side of things. My skills on that end are still developing, which is why I brought my project to a good friend and frequent collaborator Thomas Preston.”
“Collaborating with 571 was a ton of fun. He is always pushing the boundaries with what he can make as an artist. When he sends me music, I never know what to expect, but I know it’ll be good. The project is full of creative sounds and samples. It took me a little bit to get cued into the sound of the project, and how I could help it reach its full potential, but with a little feedback from 571, I really got the hang of what the songs needed. I can’t wait to see what people think of the music.”
– Thomas Preston
“Making music here has always been a passion, but the fact that with the spaces provided by Shenandoah I can also perform my pieces of art is a blessing,” continued Robinson-Holness. “When I first arrived here, I didn’t know anything and I felt a setback as an artist. But I was determined to navigate and make the most of my environment. I’ve done about 15 shows in my four years of being at Shenandoah. The conservatory is still actively growing with its diversity in music. Throughout my time of creating a lane in which hip-hop is present here, I’ve always had Wayne there to help support me and my sound at my performances.”
“Zach and I have learned a lot about each other’s processes through the years working with each other. We have worked out what things we like and don’t like, and that helps us collaborate as efficiently as possible!”
– Wayne Romero