Engineering is for Everyone: A Musician at Olin

Hello Reader!

It’s really nice to meet you. My name is Richard Li (‘25), and I wanted to introduce you to what I do with literally all of my spare time: music-making!

I started writing music in freshman year. My school was hosting a talent show, and I wanted to push myself to demonstrate a “talent” that was truly special to me. The result? A really unrefined and cringe-inducing love song entitled (aptly) “Write you a song”. It really wasn’t anything special, but I was hooked!

People always ask me how I got into music -- I say that like I’m a famous person fielding questions, but it IS a natural question to ask upon hearing that someone writes music-- and I’m really not sure how to answer. After cobbling together that first song, I really wanted to try and do it again. But, of course, my high school did not host talent shows every other weekend. Thus, the natural conclusion I came to was that I should make it electronically and put it on YouTube.

Since then, I’ve upgraded my hardware and software, released 2 albums and an EP, and learned how to mix and master better. The journey has been long and arduous, but incredibly rewarding. 

One of the biggest problems I had when applying to Olin was that I didn’t really have an engineering background. I remember walking into Candidate’s weekend and hearing a bunch of kids sitting together in the lobby

Perhaps the project I’m most proud of is the one I finished very recently. I’ve always been a writer and a bit an aspiring programmer. My gap year was a great opportunity and I became leagues better at music production than I was before, but I wanted to shoot for something bigger.

Enter: Something bigger.

It was like a childhood dream come true. Little 9th grade me could’ve never imagined I would ever do something like this.

Coming to Olin was just the cherry on top for me. The concept of “creation” is a cornerstone here, and our discord servers all have channels where you can show off what you’re doing. The combination of random strangers and new friends all motivating and supporting my work was probably the final (but completely unnecessary) confirmation that Olin was the place I wanted to spend the rest of my time.

So, dear reader, I have no idea who you are or why you’re reading this. I imagine it’s because you’re interested in the cool stuff that Oliners are doing -- if that’s the case, let me assure you that it is not even close to the normal engineering stuff you picture. There’s a lot of that, to be fair, but there is also a huge population of students who get a kick out of doing artistic, proudly non-engineering things. I’m one of them, and you’ll hear more from them in the coming weeks.

Stay in touch with me if you’d like! Here are my links: 

  1. My Website

  2. My Instagram

  3. My Spotify Artist Page

  4. My Apple Music Artist Page

  5. My LinkedIn

Thanks for reading!

Richard Li