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Self-taught and self-produced: Evan Hughes releases EP ‘Dead or Alive’

| Senior Cadenza Editor

We all know at least one SoundCloud rapper from high school. You know who I’m talking about—that one kid with trash beats and even worse vocals who thinks he’s going to make it in the industry with 20 followers on SoundCloud. Unlike them, Evan Hughes is the real deal.

Hughes—stylized as “evan” on his streaming profiles—is a Washington University sophomore with a great ear for mixing and dedication to producing high-quality music. This past Saturday, he released his six-song EP “Dead or Alive.” And it is incredible.

Evan Hughes performs at WUStock April 7. A sophomore at Wash. U., Hughes is a rapper and producer. Hughes showcases both skills on his recently-released six-song EP, “Dead or Alive.”Courtesy of Evan Hughes

Evan Hughes performs at WUStock April 7. A sophomore at Wash. U., Hughes is a rapper and producer. Hughes showcases both skills on his recently-released six-song EP, “Dead or Alive.”

“It’s called ‘Dead or Alive,’ and that’s because I have a lot of themes of spiritual exploration. I talk a lot about heaven. I talk a lot about hell. I talk about, like, what if we’re just nowhere…and I have some other stuff that’s unrelated, like earthly s—,” Hughes said.

In only six tracks, Hughes manages to show off his mixing skills and vocal chops while making some serious bangers. If you just have time to listen to one song, check out “I Gotta Go.” It has a killer, easy-to-learn hook and chorus perfect to get hype.

“Latenight Snap” is currently Hughes’ favorite track. “I just think it’s a banger,” Hughes said. “It came out of me and one of my friends in my room—we were just contemplating Snapchat and its evils and stuff and ‘Latenight Snap’ is just what came out of that.”

Hughes wasn’t always the voice on his mixes. He originally got into music with drumming and graduated to producing on GarageBand on his grandfather’s computer.

“I would just go and f— around and make beats—like s—ty beats—but I just kept doing it, and that’s the key,” Hughes said. “You just keep doing it and get better.”

With years of practice and dedication, Hughes has developed a great ear for making mixes. Something that’s really impressive about him as an artist is how high-quality everything he produces is.

“I started to get a really good ear for mixing, so I think now my mixes are—hesitant to sound like an a–hole—at the top of the line,” Hughes said. “I think, at least in instrumental quality, they’re definitely there just from learning by ear.”

This project was a big release for Hughes, with emphasis in production on appealing to a large audience.

“I’m hoping this will be a lot of people’s first exposure to my stuff, because I think I’ve started to build a relatively decently sized base. I think this is the project where people will be like, ‘yo, check this kid out,’” Hughes said.

You can check out the EP on any streaming service. Also, anyone looking for more content from “evan” can look forward to this summer, when he plans to produce some videos for the EP.

“If you’re not open to it, be open to it. Just give it a shot at least. At the very least, you might f— with my music,” Hughes said.