Maddy Hill is All About That Bass

Katelyn Newton, Mirada Staff

Mastering music is more than memorizing chords or lyrics because personal expression, harmony and rhythm don’t always come from hours of practice, but from something unteachable; passion.
Senior Maddy Hill has had the opportunity to master music, and she isn’t done yet. She is on her way to join the list of talented musicians to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts for her freshman year of college.
Artists like Charlie Puth, Imagine Dragons, Aerosmith and Train include a few of the successful graduates from Berklee.
Maddy Hill began her musical journey in fourth grade, first learning the flute.
“I’ve always enjoyed music,” said Hill. “I’m sometimes not the best with my words so I think it’s a nice way to be able to express myself without words.”
Hill picked up the bass for her middle school jazz band, in need of a player, and fell in love with the instrument from then on. Now she plays for the AM Jazz Band and Smamble, in addition to two of her own bands.
Free Candy! is a pop-punk band that Hill is in outside of school, with other members Caleb Martin, Carson Grimes and Jake Kaspari.
Free Candy! has two EPs out in addition to a full album. The band gained popularity throughout the music community in Sacramento and has received the opportunity to play at some impressive locations.
Hill’s success soars beyond her small, hit band Free Candy!, too. She and the rest of her jazz “tRio,” including Jake Nalangan on the piano and Joseph Bly on the drums, had the privilege to be interviewed on Capital Public Radio’s Student Showcase.
“It was kind of scary being on the radio live… during the interview part when I was actually talking I was really nervous but then when we actually played I felt a lot better,” said Hill.
The interview was a celebration and recognition of the work Hill and the her trio have dedicated to perfecting their rearrangements of complex numbers like “Wise,” originally composed by Alex Mercado.
One of tRio’s greatest achievements was winning a DownBeat award for the best “small jazz combo” in the nation. The DownBeat award is a student music award with an emphasis on jazz and blues and is highly admired in the student music industry.
“Everyone was so happy for us and the band records are always really good about announcing that and making it a big deal so you feel proud of yourself.”
Even with all of Hill’s success and passion in music, the full-ride to the Berklee College of Music was a shock.
“Berklee wasn’t even a dream school because I thought it was so out of my league,” said Hill.
The opportunity to go to Berklee first arose when Hill’s jazz trio was accepted into the Monterey Jazz Festival. Getting into this event was an accomplishment in itself; only six high school combos are accepted from the entire nation.
At the festival, they had live auditions to a five week camp at Berklee School of Music over summer. Hill did the audition and was offered the full tuition to attend the camp. Once at the camp she got a scholarship to Berklee for college.
“I really liked the environment when I went to the camp,” said Hill, “And the faculty is really cool. They have really cool people like Victor Wooten, who is a famous bass player… so I took the scholarship.”
Maddy Hill’s passion for music has opened up doors she never even knew existed. Her experiences showed her the power of taking risks, like doing an audition that snowballed into a full-ride at Berklee College of Music.