Spotlighting Singer-Songwriter Stuyvesant Graduate Mina Lone ’22

An exclusive look into the recently graduated high school senior Mina Lone ’22 and her passion for music.


Mina Lone

Mina Lone has fallen in love with music. “Whenever I have free time, whether it is at school, at church, or at home, you’ll probably find me fiddling around on the guitar, cooking up some lyrics, listening to a new song, or some combination of all of the above,” she said.

Seated at her desk in her bedroom is Mina Lone holding a guitar. One hand pressing down on the strings to create chords, while the other hand strums to produce the familiar crisp sound of an acoustic guitar. Behind her, tan walls filled with posters and wall decorations create a backdrop for her newest brainstorming session, shared on her Instagram story. The notes she plays with skillful manipulation are soon accompanied by her voice, a melodious silvery vibration that ends too quickly as the short video abruptly closes out, leaving her audience itching for more.

A few weeks later in our Zoom interview, I am pleased to see the same background behind her bright face. She stares back at me through the computer screen, black headphones over her tied-back dark hair that frames her sparkly eyes and round cheeks. I ask her to briefly introduce herself. She smiles.

“My name’s Mina, I’m eighteen, half Indian-Korean, and from Queens! I enjoy discussion based classes like English and History, and I think it’s really cool to see the way that my peers think differently from me. I’m also really into my STEM classes!” She speaks with confidence, and her answers are clear and thoughtful.

I first met Lone in Pre-K. We grew up in the same neighborhood, less than ten minutes away from one another, and subsequently went to the same educational institutions up until high school, when Lone was admitted to the prestigious Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, and I enrolled at Bronx Science.

Despite knowing one another for the majority of our lives, it was only in high school that we truly reconnected as close friends. It was during my four years at Bronx Science that I first became acquainted with her music. I was completely unaware that she was proficient in both singing and playing musical instruments, so I was surprised when she first shared a Bandlab link in our group chat of friends.

I was unsure of what to expect when I clicked on the link — perhaps a sound similar to Taylor Swift’s country era or the more mainstream pop genre that played on the radio. What I heard was something totally distinctive — a strong bass line and acoustic melody, with Lone’s distinct singing voice over the soft rock instrumental. She sang in higher tones, stretching syllables and holding onto the ends of words until the instrumental took center stage once more, flowing together in rhythmic beats and shiver-inducing vocals.

“It’s hard to classify myself as one genre since I’m always trying to experiment with a bunch of different genres with each song. If anything, I’d say it’d be a hybrid between soft rock and pop with a jazzy twist,” Lone said.

Her passion for music began as a dull duty for Lone. “I grew up being forced to learn the violin, piano, and other instruments. Back when I was younger, I pretty much hated music. It was a chore, it was boring, and I didn’t really understand the point of it,” she confessed. The turning point for her was in middle school, where a practice session in band class changed her entire perspective on music, a moment where it clicked for her. “It was like I could hear the trumpets, the flutes, the clarinets all coming together into a sound that filled up the entire room. I realized that we were creating something together, and that was an exhilarating feeling,” Lone said.

That realization triggered a growing crescendo of passion for music. She began attending her current church and discovered her interest in singing during the worship services.“Church also inspired me to start picking up the guitar, and I’d begun experimenting as I taught myself basic chords.” When she reached high school, she joined Stuyvesant’s music production club as a ninth grader, on a whim. This was a new experience for Lone, who began thinking about how she could create her own personal sound.

The pursuit of discovering her own unique sound was freeing for Lone. “Up until that point, everything I had done was what my parents wanted me to do. Whether it was play the violin, or attend prep classes, or even give up some of my past hobbies in order to make time for school — I’d always done as they told me, because I never knew any better,” Lone said.

She describes this newfound interest in music as liberating. “Guitar, singing, production — all of it was different. My newfound love for music was the first thing in my life that I actually wanted to pursue more than anything else — music was endless, to me. There were so many songs to listen to, so many songs to write. And in a period of my life where I felt like I didn’t have a lot of the emotional support that I really needed, music was there.”

Lone credits music to be the main factor in discovering a way she could express her emotions. When making music was but a chore for Lone, she reflects on her lack of emotion. “Back then, I never understood how exactly feelings could be translated into sound.” She described how her music instructors would compliment her on her skill but berate her for her lack of emotion when playing the notes. But with the development of her own music she realized that music had become an outlet for her emotions. “I realized that with a few simple notes, I could express all the things that I was scared to ever put into words. Music became my support, and from there it became one of the things that I love most to this day,” Lone said.

She learned to enjoy being a musician, falling in love with the art form for what it gave her. “It’s like this with any form of art but the fact that I can take empty space and create sound is a feeling that I’ll never be able to quite put into words,” she explained. “And beyond that, progress is such an exhilarating experience. When I find a progression or lyric that fits just right, or when I create a sound that’s just a little bit closer to all the songs that I love, or all the songs in my head that I dream of making, it pushes me to keep on going.”

Lone also places her dedication to church as a large factor in encouraging this pursuit of creating her own music. Lone describes music to be a community based art form. “I love being able to jam out with my other musician friends and also share my stuff with others,” she said. At church, Lone learned how to sing in a way that would allow her to lead a congregation. It was attending service that jump started her love for guitar. She began when she was thirteen with a cheap practice guitar her cousin had gifted her when she was nine. “I looked up chord charts and began to strum simple chords and play along to the songs I knew. From there I started to fingerpick, and played around with different shapes to make different progressions,” Lone said. Her developing guitar skills would be one of the main stars of her music.

However, aside from the conventionally musical aspects of playing instruments or singing, Lone takes her passion one step further with songwriting. “I’d always loved to write essays and poems, it was my strong point in school,” she claimed. So when it came down to writing lyrics to accompany the instrumental portion of her unique sound, she always aimed to create a new layer of musicality with her words. “I was always thinking about ways to make the words and meaning flow smoothly. Since I had always written poetry, it wasn’t too jarring of a transition for me,” she said.

Outside of her classical music background, Lone is self taught. This includes teaching herself guitar as well as singing. “With singing, when I discovered that I liked to sing, and that people thought I had a nice voice, I just did it nonstop. I sang, and still do sing, every day, and it was to the point where it was almost obnoxious to some of my friends,” Lone reminisced. She would sing songs she enjoyed listening to or hum melodies she created on the spot. Along with the guitar, as well as her past education in classical instruments such as the violin and piano, Lone knows the basics of American drums and bass. “Right now I’m kind of like a jack of all trades, master of none,” she said.

Today, Lone has a stronger grip on her unique style and sound and has already created several songs that are accessible to the general public on her YouTube. “I always try to make each song different from the others, so I usually start from playing around with chords and finding a sound that I vibe with,” Lone stated.

Then, she develops the progressions and begins brainstorming lyrics. Once she has created a verse or chorus, she builds the song around the theme revolving what she has written down. Lone finds inspiration from the music she listens to and from exploring different styles. For instance, although she does not keep up with any particular artists or music producers too often, she admires Ichika Nito, a Japanese math-rock electric guitarist popular on YouTube for his signature sound and technical skills. “His skill on the electric and all sorts of instruments is just superhuman, and his creativity really comes through in all of his compositions. He creates a furious flurry of sound and technique that oddly enough ends up being claiming and beautiful to listen to. I hope that I’ll be able to have a mastery over my craft to the extent that he does his,” she gushed.

Her lyrics and general theme of a piece are inspired by what she is experiencing at the moment, or from a scenario she makes up. “I really like creative writing and reading fiction, so sometimes I’ll think about a certain scene  — what’s the setting? What’s happening? How are the characters interacting and feeling? And I’ll base the song and lyrics off of those questions,” she explained.

The intricacy and thought that goes into her lyrics is unmissable. In her song “learning curve,” Lone’s lyrics reveal an immense amount of vulnerability and self-reflection. Much as the title implies, Lone’s lyrics explore the loss of naivety as a part of growth. “I’m learning about the world. Maybe I shouldn’t be so easily manipulated,” Lone sings, with a sense of regret. “I try to see the world in different colors, they blur and fade into a shade of gray,” Lone sings in the song. The creative choice of including a commentary of her perspective of people and society behind a lyrically pleasing metaphor is fantastic.

And this is a personal interpretation, perhaps another individual will see it differently — a benefit that comes from a well created metaphor. The intricate weaving of lyrics to achieve an open-to-interpretation deeper meaning, especially in this song, is wonderful. “I try to pick up the different pieces. I mold myself like I’m a piece of clay,” Lone sings towards the end, yet another well-crafted line that provides an open interpretation to the listener. I interpreted this line as alluding to the idea of developing oneself as one goes through life, picking up different aspects and experiences to create a full identity. Perhaps it truly means something else, like how one molds themselves to society based on commonplace standards. Regardless, the thought provoking quality of these lyrics is undeniable.

Lone takes on every role when making a new song, from producing to songwriting to singing to creating the instrumentals to editing — she does it all. As a one-woman team, a single song can take Lone over a month to finalize. Despite the difficulty of producing and creating music all by herself, Lone focuses on the positives. “It’s definitely difficult. Doing everything myself means I have total creative liberty, but also means that I’m the one deciding the next steps and how the project is going to go.” While she admits that there are moments where she feels lost and unsure of how she should continue the development of the song, she finds the process stimulating and enjoys a good challenge.

Whether it be tinkering with the songwriting, or logicizing the production side of development, which includes mixing tracks and dealing with technical difficulties that come with her equipment, Lone works tediously to produce a product that she will be happy with. “My biggest goal is to experiment and learn something new with each, having that total creative liberty makes that possible. Even if a track doesn’t end up being my best, or if I have no idea where to proceed with it, being able to work things out and create a sound that is completely mine is something really fun,” Lone said.

Before publishing a final song for the general public to enjoy, Lone runs it by her friends first.“I always have my friends listen to my demos and get their opinions on it which is really helpful,” she said. Aaron Wang, a listener, fellow recent graduated senior, and friend of Lone at Stuyvesant High School, elaborated on Lone’s progress as a musician. “Listening to the myriad videos on her YouTube channel, you really start to get a sense of her as a living, breathing individual — an acquaintance even. Her songs tell a story and with each video, the listener really begins to get a glimpse into her life and her passions as an artist.” he said. Wang’s favorite song from Lone is “Again”, a piece he describes as “dreamy and space-like, and the tune profoundly memorable.”

A similarity among all her listeners is their appreciation for her experimental style. “Mina’s music isn’t all one style and she tends to experiment a lot,” says Vivien Li, a day-one supporter of Lone’s passion for music. Wang also points out the variety of styles and musical aspects Lone incorporates into her pieces. “I really like how Mina’s music style is always so experimental — over the course of listening to those songs on repeat, you really start to notice the growth such as with the addition of percussion instruments in her more recent pieces,” he said. Her close friends could not be more proud of the masterpieces she creates, happy to watch her develop as a musician. “It creates a sort of personal connection that really illustrates her development as an artist and you, as a listener, get to accompany her on her metaphorical journey,” Wang elaborates.

Another listener, Justin L, as he prefers to be referred to during our interview, chooses “Labyrinth” as his favorite. “A lot of her songs are just singing and guitar, which seems simple but it’s really nice to listen to. Her singing is really natural and it’s easy to get lost in the flowing lyrics and melodic chords,” he said. The musicality of the piece that he describes to be present across all of Lone’s songs is part of the reason why “Labyrinth” is his favorite. “The guitar playing is impeccable, not just in the chord progressions, but the musical flourishes and slaps and other forms of percussion on the guitar help create an organic sound that compliments her voice well.”

Personally, my favorite song is “Lovin Mood”. It is one of her simpler songs, created before the introduction of heavy percussion and music production edits that her other songs include. The single guitar creates a wonderfully light feeling, as if you were floating on clouds. The simplicity of the guitar emphasizes the beauty of Lone’s voice as her pitch rises and falls like soothing waves. The theme of this song seems to be romantically inclined, evoking the image of a young girl in love expressing her intense admiration for another person. “The sky has never looked so blue and the world so exciting,” sings Lone with a convincing tone of longing. The idea of love allowing one to see the world in a positive, vividly colorful perspective is captured captivatingly by Lone’s musical prowess in this song.

While she was a senior at Stuyvesant High School, Lone juggled her passion for music with other obligations, such as the rigorous coursework that comes with attending a specialized high school as well as clubs, a social life, and family duties. “I usually chose a weekend to sit down and just record a few tracks,” she said. From there she took advantage of any free time that she had throughout the week which included free periods in school, after she was done with homework, or when she just wanted to relax and take a break from work.

Before Lone attends her first year of college in the Fall of 2022, she has several music-based plans for the summer months. “Right now I’m working on a song for my school’s music production club’s album that they put out every year. After that, I’m planning on finishing up another track that I’ve pushed aside for now. From there, I’ve been really excited to plan out a few songs based on different genres like r & b, pop rock, and even some chill acoustic tracks, so the summer before college will probably be spent trying to push as many of those out as I can!”

Returning and new listeners can look forward to Lone’s upcoming projects by following her YouTube channel as well as her verified artist Spotify account to stream her music. Be prepared to get lost in the vibes and melodies of Lone’s spectacular songs, with the echo of her guitar and a note lingering in your ears days after you first heard them.

“My biggest goal is to experiment and learn something new with each, having that total creative liberty makes that possible. Even if a track doesn’t end up being my best, or if I have no idea where to proceed with it, being able to work things out and create a sound that is completely mine is something really fun,” Mina Lone ’22 said.