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Student Story April 25, 2019

Alum Spotlight: BDS talks with ’18 Alumnus John Tyler on how Architecture helped structure his music career

Design comes in many forms and for BDS alumnus, John Tyler, it meant translating BDS design into composing music and music production.

John Tyler graduated Baltimore Design School in 2018 with a concentration in architecture and now attends Bowie State University for Music Technology.   While John’s passion is in music, he reflects on how his education in the design thinking process and principles of architecture have helped shape his career.

We had a chance to talk with John about his experience at BDS and the direction he’s laying his path. We also got the drop on his latest release!

You were one of our first students in the architecture program. How do you think that experience impacted your area of study in music today?

The process of making music and designing is very similar. For instance, architecture helped me think outside the box when it came to my songwriting. In architecture you have to think about every perspective when you’re designing. For example: “Who’s going to be in this building? How do I want people to feel when they look at the building, or walk in the building? Is the ground stable for this type of material we’re using to build this building? How can this help someone?” An architect asks himself or herself all these different questions in the process of designing. Same with me and writing my music. I ask myself “What’s the message? If I performed this song how will the crowd react? Who’s the song for?” So without architecture, I don’t think I would have this type of broad-minded thinking when I write my songs. So, I thank Mr. Steve Gordon for giving me the great qualities of architecture!

BDS is structured for design and doesn’t have a music curriculum, so how were they able to support you with your music ?

My first performance with my own music was at BDS! I was in 9th grade and it was at the end of the second semester. BDS alumnus Bryon Bishop and I were recording a bunch of songs for my debut album at the time – “True Art” (which later dropped at the end of 2016). When the semester ended, BDS had an awards ceremony where they shouted out everyone who had perfect attendance and straight A’s.  Bryon and I performed at the end at the end of the ceremony. The following year, they allowed us to throw a concert in the courtyard. We got everyone out of class early and we performed again while everyone played games. Then later that year, the Freddie Gray Riot happened. A few months later I was asked to perform at the Principal’s Party to recite a poem I wrote about Freddie Gray. I also wrote all the music for the BDS Anthem and a piece of the lyrics for the first graduating class of 2017. For the most part, the lyrics came from the bodacious, Mr. Hayes!

In 11th grade, I was a part of the Bloomberg Arts Internship where I interned at Maryland Public Television. (I still work with Maryland Public Television today! I just wrote a theme song for their “Women’s Forum Program” that comes out very soon!) Being apart of Bloomberg, allowed me to make a lot of connections, and I got the chance to make the music for Bloomberg’s video of Baltimore.  Former BDS teacher, Ms. Rebecca Belleville also helped me to get a gig to perform at the 2017 Artscape Festival which was a blast! So if I didn’t attended BDS, I wouldn’t be where I’m at now. Every teacher is very supportive and loving. BDS will always be a second home for me.

Do you feel that BDS is continuing to support you post-grad?

Yes, BDS is still very supportive even after I graduated.  This article would not be happening if the support wasn’t there. If you ask people if they visit their high school after they graduated, most people will say “NO!”, but almost all the alumni come back to say hello, because BDS is so loving and supportive. I truly believe there’s not a school in Baltimore like BDS.

So, you’re currently a freshman at Bowie, but word on the street is that you have a new release out. Could you talk a little about that?

Yes! My latest EP “No Color” shares my story of growing up in Baltimore and the challenges teens face, particularly young black men, when it comes to colorism. You might recognize a few BDS faces in the videos.

What’s next for John Tyler? He simply provided his checklist…

  • continue with many collaborations 
  • write a major film score
  • tour the world
  • start a music studio program for middle & high school students

No doubt he will accomplish all of his goals. You can learn more about John’s work and hear his music at: