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Ladue Senior Jams Out

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One year ago, Ladue senior Ben Fister uploaded his account’s first track “47 Ronin (Prod. by iRatz)” on SoundCloud under the alias FYYSTAR. Over the past two months alone, Fister has published more than a dozen more songs onto his page. With pieces he classifies as Grunge, Alt-Rock, lo-fi, Rap, Hip-Hop, Classical and more, the genre-smashing artist is nothing like anyone else you’ve heard. “The reason I do it is because I love it, but the reason, the ways that I create, that’s where it gets weird, I don’t know,” Fister said in an interview I held with him a few weeks ago.

The Ladue High School choir room is haunted by this very much alive 17-year-old student–they just can’t seem to get rid of him. It was in this very same room I met with Fister and he played for me and we talked. When I entered the room, I actually had assumed he hadn’t gotten there yet. In reality, he was just hard at work at a piano in a meticulous trance with the keys, a concentrated sort of peace, certainly close to reaching a mastery of the skill, in devotion at least. As we talk, he sits leaned back in his desk next to mine, with one leg crossed atop of the other. All except for small mannerisms with his hands and small cracks in his voice, he would seem totally at peace. Instead, he seems very precautious about not wanting to say the wrong thing.  “[I] came in here for lunch, like, everyday, starting second semester sophomore year up until last month, probably,” Fister remembered, looking up at the ceiling.

As a 6-year-old, Fister started writing music “informally.” In school he learned cello, and at home he taught himself how to play guitar and bass. What Fister was just describing was his recent and strenuous training routine to learn piano. During that time, Fister met Thomas Lowery. An incredible musician himself, Lowery started teaching AP Music Theory almost two decades ago, an intense school music class Fister later took. Lowery thinks that all aspiring musicians could learn from Fister, and he thinks he knows why Fister is capable of turning over so many wicked tracks over a relatively short time span. “It says enough that he’s spent hours in here during his lunch, his dedication…that drive to always be working and thinking artistically about things.”

Fister doesn’t just work on his own music, though. He’s vocally collaborated with multiple other artists as well as producing for others. “I produce for random people all the time. I would say that’s probably the bulk of my musical output…and a lot of it will be people just hitting me up online or people hearing that I do this kind of stuff and I usually provide instrumentals,” Fister said.

What’s even more unique, though, is that he scores video games. “We did one in January which was part of the Global Game Jam event, which is basically a bunch of programmers, artists, people come together to make a video game in a weekend…Other than that, we just really like bouncing ideas off each other and really asking each other input on what we’re working on,” fellow Ladue senior and bassist Joel Hsieh explained. “I had heard here and there that he was like another guy who liked to write music. So when I heard about this Game Jam event, I asked him to go, and that was the beginning of it.”

In his comfortable, windowless office, Lowery relaxes, reclining in his chair. Surely over his decades of teaching, he’s seen many gifted students, yet it becomes quite apparent to me that even to this man, Fister is something special.

“Kinda quirky. I can only say a couple words…deep thinker. Very musical, very musical person. I think he understands music very well,” Lowery said. In writing this, I realize that it’s probably the same reason Fister understands music so well that he seemed somewhat apprehensive in our meeting, except for when he was playing of course. It was something that he told me at the very end of our the interview: “Music talks with us in the same way that like language does but doesn’t use the language part of the brain so it literally, sometimes it says words that can’t be said. And so I believe that it resonates with people highly…it has the power to, the entire point of music or composition at least is to put somebody in your mindset.”

About the Writer
Will Minifie, Web Editor-In-Chief

This is Minifie's second year on Panorama staff, having spent the previous year as a Staff Writer for the Features section. In his free time, Minifie rows...

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Ladue Senior Jams Out