The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

@highvyn: from passion to project

Sophomore Josiah Won has risen to fame through his song “idk,” all while balancing student life and his music career
(Screenshot by Eva Pace)

There exists a stigma attached to modern-day music production: the stereotype of the “SoundCloud rapper.” Sophomore Josiah Won, better known as Highvyn, has managed to avoid this cliché and prove his talent by garnering more than 28k monthly Spotify listeners with his music. 

After attending a pop-up concert in November 2019 with artists such as Pastel, the Melodores and Ben Kessler, Won’s passion and talent took hold; he began to learn how to produce music from Youtube videos. Starting off with a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), a keyboard attached to a computer that can emulate any instrument, Won began to produce music and released his first single “Seattle Tears” this year.

“I start off with a beat or sound, never lyrics, so I decide the instrumental and genre first. Next, I make a Spotify playlist of songs that I want to inspire mine. Then I move to melodies, humming and gibberish. I add lyrics, and finally tune and edit with a piano digital audio workstation,” Won said. “I want to buy a guitar and learn it next.” 

Won emphasized that he doesn’t feel pressure to force his music down his listeners’ throats. Yet, with three singles, “Seattle Tears,” “save to voicemail?”, “idk” and over 450k streams on the latter, Won’s music has become quite popular.

 “If people like it, they like it. I don’t want to post about my music all the time,” Won said. “When I released ‘idk,’ the Spotify algorithm picked it up, and it took off.” 

The highlight of his musical career thus far has been the incredible talent he has had the opportunity to meet, Won said. Rodrick Porter and Australian artist Tiffi are just some of the industry professionals reaching out, as well as a number of other artists Won said he would keep private. 

“Ever since my music was first released on Spotify, artists have reached out,” Won said. “Rodrick Porter is the most influential to me because I listened to him even before I produced my own music, and he gives me advice.”

Won also engages in charity work through his music. In late May, he donated the royalties from his single “idk” to the George Floyd fund. He now donates his royalties from his single “save to voicemail?” to COVID-19 support funds. 

Won is hesitant to make the full switch into his Highvyn stage name and drop his academic obligations. For now, he said that Vanderbilt is his priority. 

“I am first and foremost a student. Music is still just a hobby and side passion. By 2021, I hope to figure out if I will go full time,” Won said. 

From working in his basement on his computer to collaborating with real and experienced artists, Won lives the dream most “Soundcloud rappers” strive to reach. His tracks and curated playlists are all available for streaming on Spotify

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About the Contributor
Grace Delmonte, Staff Writer
Grace Delmonte ('24) is a student in the College of Arts and Science double-majoring in neuroscience and medicine, health & society. She is from Atlanta, Ga., and serves as a staff writer in the Life Section. When not writing for The Hustler, you can find her running around Centennial Park, baking, working in her research lab or exploring restaurants around Nashville. You can reach her at [email protected].
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