Young Rocklin duo mixes and masters their music
If someone said Connor Cook could live on music alone, it might not seem so far-fetched.
The eighth-grader at Granite Oaks Middle School is an accomplished pianist who performs locally, even one gig on television, and runs his own business teaching piano lessons.
The young musician also plays eight other instruments, composes music and loves to mix up his sound with fresh tracks on his Yamaha keyboard. After organizing a local band and auditioning for “America’s Got Talent,” it only seemed natural that Cook would soon move on to bigger and better things. What that was did not surface until he heard an amazing voice during last year’s middle school talent show.
Kylie Chan, also a Granite Oaks eighth-grader, performed a solo and her vocals blew Cook away.
“She had an amazing voice,” said Cook, 13. “The first time I heard Kylie sing, I knew I wanted to work with her.”
The two young musicians quickly impressed each other with their talents. Chan’s voice, powerful and mature for her age, is reminiscent of her maternal great-grandmother, who used to sing on Portuguese radio. In a matter of months, the young duo became known in the neighborhood as Kylie and Connor. They practiced for perfection, matching Cook’s rich and soothing piano with Kylie’s warm and soulful delivery.
“Then we thought it would be fun to put a song on iTunes,” Cook explained. “When we came up with that idea, Kylie and I started to narrow our choices down to three or four songs. Finally we realized one particular song accented both of our talents equally and it was just a great song to cover.”
Christina Aguilera’s mega-hit “Beautiful” met their expectations for a piano-accompanied piece.
“We were both very familiar with it, so we thought it was the best fit for our first time doing this,” shared Chan, 13, who also enjoys playing the piano. “Connor … tweaked the song by adding violin through an app on his computer. Along with this, when I sang the song, I didn’t really try to sing the song differently. I just had fun with it and I just naturally made it my own.”
After hours of practice, Cook and Chan were eager to record and upload their song to iTunes, but without a record label they needed to do some research. Cook shopped around and discovered Finley Sound in Loomis. Finley Sound owner Matt McCabe normally charges $20-$40 per hour, depending on the complexity of the recording project. Kylie and Connor’s project was fairly simple, so $30 got them mixed, mastered and ready for iTunes.
“My experience at Finley Sound was a lot of fun,” Chan shared. “I had never recorded my voice with professional equipment before, so I didn’t really know what to expect. Of course, at first I was a little nervous, but as soon as I put on the headphones and started hearing Connor’s piano playing in my ear, I got into the ‘singing zone.’ Overall, we had a really good time.”
Next, Cook tackled licensing their product. First he used Limelight, an online tool for musicians to clear cover songs and purchase a license. Cook chose the website CD Baby for an inexpensive and easy way to upload their audio files and cover photo to iTunes, Google Play and Amazon. Soon Kylie and Connor’s version of “Beautiful” was ready for purchase.
Their dedication and determination to music has impressed family and friends.
“I am always amazed at how varied Connor’s musical curiosity is,” said his dad, Steve Cook. “While I believe piano will always be his favorite, he continually tries out new and different instruments. Over the years we’ve listened to him play the violin, clarinet, trumpet and the drums. He’s even gotten recognizable tunes out of a harmonica, bagpipes, mouth harp and an ocarina.”
Chan’s mom said musical talent runs in the family.
“I think that singing comes naturally for Kylie,” Kim Chan said. “She started performing for her family at a young age, and always seemed to enjoy it very much.”
Recently Kylie and Connor have performed at a private dinner and a local sporting event and are looking for other performance venues. With their song on iTunes only a click away, they hope to grow their fan base and keep collecting royalties.