Student. Writer. Producer. Artist. 

These are just a few of the titles that senior Yandel Calleja holds. 

After messing around with different forms of music in middle school, Calleja decided to make his dreams become a reality by releasing his first few musical projects on YouTube. 

Since his freshman year, Calleja has worked hard to make a name for himself. He went from a YouTube channel with five subscribers to releasing music on well known platforms like Apple Music and Spotify. With these accomplishments marked off, he has made his dreams even bigger. “My biggest goal is to get 1,000,000 streams on a song or do a tour,” he said.

After getting his streams up on his new platforms, Calleja released his favorite project on November 30, 2022, titled “EVE.” The song dives into topics that many high schoolers wouldn’t touch -- looks, fame and fortune. “This track doesn’t just skim the surface; it plunges deep into the very core of human existence,” he stated. “This song isn’t just music; it’s a revelation, an awakening and a reminder that there’s more to life than what meets the eye.” 

Calleja has a variety of different sounds inspired by musical artists like Kendrick Lamar, Isaiah Rashad and J. Cole. “These three luminaries have been the guiding stars of my artistic journey,” he explained. “Their influence is not merely a footnote in my artistic journey; it’s the very heartbeat of my musical soul, pumping with the rhythm of their unmatched artistry.”

With the help of his idols, he has been able to share his story through his music. “I draw from life experiences. Personal stories, emotions and the world around me can be a wellspring of inspiration,” he said. “Keeping a journal or even just jotting down random thoughts and observations helps me capture those fleeting moments of inspiration.” He has found his biggest inspirations come when he least expects it, so stepping back and trying different things has helped him tremendously in his creative journey. 

The biggest reason Calleja began writing music was to get his message out to the world in a way he found most fitting for him. “My message boils down to four main questions,” he explained. “Who am I really as a person? What are my goals? What do I believe in? Why am I the way I am?” These questions have inspired him to make music into his main career in the future. 

“A good artist, in my view, is someone who possesses a unique blend of creativity, authenticity and the ability to resonate with their audience. Creativity fuels their ability to bring fresh perspectives and ideas to life, while authenticity allows them to express their individuality without compromise,” he added. “Ultimately, what sets a good artist apart is their power to connect with people on an emotional level, to inspire thought and to provoke meaningful conversations through their art.”

Story by Sophie Hudson