During quarantine, one Purdue student wrote and released a Hip Hop/R&B EP on Spotify — all from his room.
Raul Villafane, a junior in the College of Health and Human Sciences, started working on his EP, called “Thermal Tapes,” in late June, largely because he was bored and had a lot of time on his hands, he said.
He said he began writing songs two years ago.
“At first trying to write anything is a little bit hard,” he said. “But after you write your first verse, you just keep on going.”
He collaborated with several of his close friends from high school.
“He’s one of my best friends,” said Lorenzo Sebastian, who is taking virtual classes at the University of Sacred Heart in Puerto Rico. “We’re in the same group of friends that do everything together, so we always knew that we loved music.”
Sebastian was featured on the last song in “Thermal Tapes,” and though he has sung and wrote music since he was young, he never released anything until Villafane persuaded him to collaborate on the EP.
“He knew that I loved music and that I didn’t have the courage or whatever to put out a song,” Sebastian said, “so he basically told me a saying that we have in Puerto Rico, like — ‘You gotta stop not doing anything and just do it.’”
Nevertheless, Sebastian said he was still nervous about recording for the EP.
“Even though I’ve known them also since like 9th grade,” he said, “they never knew I liked to do music like (Villafane did) ... so I was a little shy and nervous at first but then I got the hang of it.”
Fernando Acosta, a student at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, had high praise for the last song on the EP, on which he and Villafane collaborated.
“That last song with Lorenzo gives me goosebumps,” he said.
Acosta, who worked with Villafane on his first song the summer after his freshman year of college, said he found it easy to work with Villafane.
“It wasn’t this sort of thing where I was feeling pressured,” Acosta said. “He was like, ‘Point me toward the direction you think we should go.’”
Javier Carrion, who is taking courses at the University of Tampa remotely from Puerto Rico, was featured in the song “Mi Liga,” and said that song was made in 30 minutes.
“It wasn’t a thing where it felt like you were working,” he said. “I was just there hanging out. … it was pretty natural.”
Acosta said he worked with Villafane over Zoom, as he’s been in Philadelphia since May.
Acosta said Villafane drew inspiration from a PARTYNEXTDOOR album released shortly before the EP.
Though Acosta helped, he said he didn’t hear the completed EP until the night before it was released.
“The night before it dropped I’m like, ‘So can I hear what’s gonna drop, I know what my song sounds like but what’s going on with everything else,’” he said.
“That was probably the best part, just hearing it all coming together.”
Villafane said one of the more difficult parts of creating the EP was producing it. He had help mixing songs, however, from Aurelio Adasme, a third-year student at Berklee College of Music in Boston, who’s been working with Villafane on music for about a year.
Adasme said Villafane has been supportive with his own music. He can show Villafane a track, he said, and get a fresh perspective on it.
His favorite song on the EP, he said, was the final one, “No Te Acerques,” which he produced. The last guitar solo of the song was played on what he called “a cheap toy guitar.”
While taking classes, Villafane said he plans on working on more singles.
“I love writing,” he said. “I think it’s a great exercise for your mind, so I plan on doing that.”