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Making "Kinda Moderate" Music with Ex-Paly Student Adam Pelavin


The Soundcloud artist writes, sings, mixes, and produces original music in a one-man operation from his bedroom.

Adam Pelavin practices a chord on his new guitar, an instrument he just started self-learning a week ago. "What’s important to me is not what I’m doing now, but that I have potential."

By Ashley Wang     Photos by Zoë Wong-VanHaren

September 20, 2018

For every one of Adam Pelavin’s songs that you hear, there are 50 you don’t hear. His Soundcloud page, on which he goes by Kinda Moderate, is home to a meticulously curated list of a mere nine songs. Yet his Google Drive is cluttered with a sea of audio files, some intrinsically unalike one another and some just slightly different versions of the same song. Though he wants to share his passion with others online, he admits that he's scared to put all of his work on public display.


Despite being fairly new to the music game, Pelavin’s dived in headfirst: writing, singing, mixing, and producing all-original songs in a one-man operation based in his bedroom. Music was always something that he’s found joy in, though he’s only had time to deeply explore it after leaving Paly his junior year for the Foothill Middle College program. Now he's happier than ever, thriving in an educational environment that he says has allowed him to delve into topics that he has a real interest for.

His new single is titled "Identity."



Songs just randomly pop into my head. I usually start with a beat; one channel will be the basis of a song. And then I'll progress the song and keep adding and layering everything else until it's finished.

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A lot of what I do is experimental. For example, using instruments you wouldn't normally hear like gongs and then distorting the frequencies. I'm scared it's too experimental for the tastes of other people. So it's mostly pop and R&B that go up on my Soundcloud.

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My style is hard to explain. It's emotional music. I try to put as much emotion into my music as I can. Make people feel as much as I do.

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I have a lot of instruments: guitar, bass, keyboard, harmonica, conga, kalimba... I taught myself how to play them all. I just started learning the guitar a week ago.

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The hardest part of music is getting the structure right. Also making it more dynamic; bringing in more parts. Out of all my songs, "hey" has the most layers and dynamics.

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I’ll sit down here for maybe one to two hours if I’m working on something casually, but if I’m working on a song, it’ll be three to four hours at a time. I’ve recorded certain parts of a song 100 times, and none of them sound good. I go insane when that happens. It can really hurt my ears if I’m here for a long time.

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I’ve been trying to find female vocalists to sing for me to give my music more variety. But it’s difficult to work with others. I’ve been rejected so many times. They’ll say yes, but when it’s time to deliver, they’ll dip. It gets frustrating.

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Looking back, there was a lot of predictability in my music. The first song I ever put up on my own, called "Part Of You," I hate now. But you have to start off somewhere.

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What’s important to me is not what I’m doing now, but that I have potential. But people don’t want to work with potential. They want to work with people who are already good. So I’m struggling a bit right now.

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When I listen to music now… everything’s different. It’s hard not to listen to a song now and think about what went into it and how it was made. You just have a new appreciation for music.

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These are some of my favorite albums. I like having a variety of albums up here, not just albums from rappers. I’m trying to fill up the whole room.

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