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Soundtrack for growing up

Soundtrack for growing up

Rebecca Sutton '25 February 08, 2024

In this age of sharing everything on social media, one common theme is nostalgia. That’s one thing sophomore Johnny Sebastian knows a lot about. 

Johnny Sebastian sits on a couch with his guitar.
Johnny Sebastian

The music technology and English double major recently released his first full-length music album titled Blow Out Your Candles! It centers around nostalgia and sentimentality. 

“[The album title] refers to this idea that you don't really have a choice in growing up, as opposed to a lot of different coming-of-age stories where it romanticizes being a kid,” Sebastian said. 

Blow Out Your Candles! explores childhood expectations and how making mistakes is a natural part of youth. Birthdays are a central motif, with the album cover art featuring pictures of Sebastian as a boy at his own birthday parties.

“It's a coming-of-age story, but in a backward way that revolves around birthdays,” he said.

He began conceptualizing the album in 2020 and finished writing songs over two years. Many were inspired by home movies recorded on VHS tapes, something many college students today don’t remember using, Sebastian said.

The song “Self Sabotage” came together as part of an assignment in his music theory class.

Though this is his first full-length album, Sebastian started writing songs in eighth grade and began releasing more of his own work in high school during the pandemic. 

While Sebastian draws on popular punk and indie rock artists, some of his most creative and eccentric lyrics are inspired by an unlikely source from his childhood — video games. 

“A lot of it was inspired by old video game soundtracks of games I used to play, because I wanted it to be inspired by media I consumed as a kid.”

“A lot of it was inspired by old video game soundtracks of games I used to play, because I wanted it to be inspired by media I consumed as a kid,” he said.

Sebastian said being at UD equipped him with the technical skills needed to complete his album, and he is encouraged by the support he receives from his classmates. Sebastian has performed at ArtStreet Café, with the Dayton Jazz Ensemble and with the student a cappella group the Audio Pilots, and he often plays at his house parties in UD’s student neighborhood.

“Some of the resources here for music technology are incredible,” he said. “[Brady] Harrison (adjunct faculty member) has already taught me so much about music technology.”

Sebastian said many people helped him along in the album-producing process, especially his family. His dad even helped him design the album cover. 

“Send a thank you to everyone who listens,” he said. “I really can’t appreciate it enough.”

Blow Out Your Candles! is available for streaming on Spotify and Apple Music under the name Johnny Sebastian.

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