Bulldog Bites

News and Views from the University of Redlands

Passion drives creation of Pseudo Sunsets

English major Thomas Best ’19 juggles his passions.

As a full-time English major at the University of Redlands and an ardent musician who is writing, recording, and producing my own album, it has sometimes been difficult to balance my music and study time. Sometimes I’ve found myself working until 2:30 a.m. to get a song mix just the way I liked it, and the next night I’d be up just as late working on an essay.

However, I’ve found the two disciplines can inspire and complement each other. Majoring in English literature has taught me the value of the time it can take for ideas to culminate; sometimes it’s best to write things out and come back to it later, rather than to call it quits altogether.

Writing academic papers and writing music are similar processes, too, requiring curiosity and creativity. When writing a song or essay, there’s no telling what the final product is going to be like, but that makes the process all the more exciting and rewarding. Songs are never really finished, they are only abandoned; the same concept applies to academic writing.

The rock/alternative album I’ve been working on for the last year consists of 13 songs from two and a half minutes to as long as 10 minutes. The process began under the name “Pseudo Sunsets,” which I felt to be a mysterious moniker that wouldn't necessarily dictate what music would be associated with it since I am interested in multiple genres. 

Best’s single “Low Tide Night” (cover above) is available on streaming platforms in advance of a longer album.

I taught myself how to use virtual instruments, microphone techniques, and a digital audio workshop. Although I am primarily a guitarist and bassist, I had to learn every other instrument I wanted to include in my songs, even though I was programming instead of playing them. Singing was a new area for me as well, since I had never vocalized the lyrics I wrote alongside my musical arrangements. With no bandmates, I had to assume control of every aspect of the process from the idea to full-fledged song. The learning curve has been extremely steep, and, even after a year, I am always learning new things.

The fact that professors from the English Department always encouraged deeper thought and exploration with my work affected the way I approached this musical endeavor. I was not afraid to think outside of the box or to tackle whatever obstacles surfaced along the way.

I have released two singles across all streaming platforms to tease my full-length release, which will be out on my birthday, June 12 of this year. I am equally excited to graduate (my goal is to be a high school English teacher) and release my album this summer! One of the most important things I’ve learned is that if something evokes enough passion within you, you will make the time for it.

If you’re interested in my music, you can find my single “Low Tide Night” on all music platforms and find me under Pseudo Sunsets (@pseudosunsets) on Instagram and Facebook.

More information is also available about studying English literature, creative writing, and music at the U of R.