‘What it felt like’ before Spotify

Freshman Gillian Goddard’s second single, “Player,” is set for release tomorrow, just over a month after Spotify, iTunes, and SoundCloud simultaneously released her acoustic song “What It Felt Like” on January 1.

An upbeat pop tune Gilli began writing around two years ago, “Player” is about a boy who inspired the name.  

“[‘Player’] is one of my favorite songs on the EP,” Gilli said. “It’s so fun to dance to, and it’s so empowering!” 

 Gilli’s music can be found under her stage name, Gillian Heidi, and is written from vulnerable places, she said. “What It Felt Like,” which describes the heartbreaking moment when a trusted friend becomes a stranger—and which she said has already reached over 12,000 plays on Spotify—retells the story of a real relationship from her past. 

Gilli said she began writing the song upon realizing the emotional and physical distance that had separated her and her former best friend.

“I was thinking about all the memories we had, and I was feeling kind of down about not being friends with her anymore because we were basically sisters before that point,” Gilli said. “I was talking to another friend about it, and that’s when I realized that I don’t miss her, but I miss what it felt like. I thought, ‘Oh, gotta go write a song about that!’” 

Gilli said her inspiration to write music came from her mother, who used to sing to her as a child. Since then, Gilli has always enjoyed singing. When she was 12, she began recording her own songs in a studio near Brookline with the help of her former piano teacher Patrick Hanlin, now her producer.

Recording a rough cut of one song takes about four hours in the studio, Gilli said, and after that her producer helps her figure out which sections need to be re-cut or re-recorded. She describes the process as relaxing and fun and said the process takes place in a two-room studio: one room for recording and one room for mixing. Once all the recording is finished, Gilli’s producer mixes the song by layering different parts on top of each other, which makes the sound more cohesive, she added. Usually around seven hours later, the song is ready for potential release. 

She has since recorded an Extended Play (a short album) called “Unfiltered,” featuring some of her favorite compositions, including “What it Felt Like” and “Player.” To release the finished product, Gilli will upload the album onto, which distributes artists’ songs to Spotify, iTunes, and SoundCloud within two weeks of their upload. “Unfiltered” will be released in mid-March.

Despite stage fright, Gilli performs live because she loves how people enjoy her music, she said. Her first big performance took place at her former school, The Winsor School, when a friend signed her up for the talent show. Gilli said her hands shook beforehand, and she thought no one would like her song. Nonetheless, she walked on stage, sang, and received a standing ovation. 

“It was probably one of the biggest moments for me in music because it taught me to trust myself more and not to be so scared to be vulnerable,” Gilli said. “Getting positive feedback is what keeps me going.” 

Along with performing twice during Community Times at the Middle School, Gilli also sang in front of her grade one night near the campfire at Bivouac this past fall. Her Junior Guide, Maddie Ford ’19, said she loved “What It Felt Like” because of its relatability. 

“I think that many people can connect with it because it’s something that a lot of us go through—how we miss certain people or situations,” Maddie said. “I think that she captures that feeling very well.” 

Sanya Goenka ’22, who said she has known Gilli throughout her songwriting process for “What It Felt Like,” praised the effort her friend put into writing it.

“I’m really proud of her for releasing it,” Sanya said. “The song itself is talking about an ex-friendship, and she’s grown from that. It’s made her who she is. She isn’t as angry about it anymore; she just embraces it.”

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