By Sean Meyer/London Community News
How many students have told their teachers over the years that they had lost their homework?
While this time honoured excuse may work for some, Kylie John had actually lost hers, or at least the flash drive that contained it. Kylie, 12, a Grade 8 student at Northridge Public School, had been given the task of creating a public service announcement (PSA) on the environment. So, Kylie wrote a song, recorded it, saved it to her flash drive, and then promptly lost it.
“I do have a habit of losing things,” Kylie said. “When I thought I lost it, I thought, ‘Gosh, who knows who might find it?’ I looked everywhere, in my pockets, in my bag. It was gone.”
That is where Darryl Lahteenmaa comes into the story. A recording engineer at Brick House Productions, who also teaches audio post-production at Fanshawe College, Lahteenmaa found the drive while out walking his dog.
Having lost data himself in days gone by, Lahteenmaa said he knows how disappointing the feeling is to lose one’s hard work, so he decided to do what he could to find the owner.
Lahteenmaa brought the drive over to friends and neighbours Sarah and Steve Giardino and after a little time on the computer, discovered the PSA and decided before returning it, they would give the song a little professional fine-tuning.
“It was a song about recycling and the environment, a really cute vocal that had a message. So we thought we could have a little fun with it,” Lahteenmaa said. “It was kind of a cool song, it was a Friday night, we were looking for a little project to do and we thought it would be something fun for when we gave her the key back.”
Lahteenmaa copied the file to Pro Tools (a digital audio workstation platform), put a beat behind it, matched the vocal to a temp, added a drum beat, some bass line, and after Sarah Giardino recorded some backing vocals to it, mixed it together and put it back on the flash drive. Their intention was to not say a word to Kylie, but rather just let her discover the new song.
This may have been the end of the story had Lahteenmaa not made a video to go with the song, which he posted to his private Facebook account. After some overwhelmingly positive response, they decided to put it up on YouTube — Lost Flash Drive - Remixed then Returned (click for link) — once getting the permission of the family that is.
“We said if it was okay, we were going to make it public, but if not, we would take it down for sure. When Sarah went over, they had already seen the video and were just floored. They couldn’t believe someone would do this. Kylie loved it,” Lahteenmaa said. “And the rest has been history. It just started getting lots of attention. We didn’t have an intention of anything coming from it; we just thought it would be a fun, neat thing on a Friday night. But it has turned into something a lot bigger than that.”
Lahteenmaa was right; Kylie indeed loved the song and the video and can’t believe how well things have turned out.
“I thought it was really cool. I was nervous before I saw it, I didn’t know what to expect. It is really exciting to hear my voice on the video. My family loved it. My friends keep telling me they saw it and they loved it,” Kylie said. “I think it is great what they did. A song about the environment hopefully helps get the message out about how important this is. It’s been so many places. I was in an assembly; the video has been played in so many places. It does make me feel a little bit like a celebrity, which is fun.”
Kylie said she likes to write songs in her free time and the song for her original PSA was written off the top of her head, with a little inspiration coming from Jordan Sparks.
Lahteenmaa said he was really impressed by Kylie’s efforts in writing a song, at her age, that, “so honestly and innocently,” gives people a whole new perspective on environmental awareness.
As a audio engineer, Lahteenmaa said he was impressed by what Kylie had accomplished all on her own.
“I was impressed that in her original version it was a 30-second PSA for her class that was actually 30 seconds long. I know it wasn’t recorded professionally; she just recorded it at home on a little tape recorder and she was able to get it perfect in 30 seconds,” Lahteenmaa said. “Which is tricky to do even for me with every audio application known to man and all the tools to do it properly. She was able to do it with just a simple recorder. It is really impressive.”