‘2688 Miles’ highlights Thornton talent

Man singing in green and purple lighting.
“2688 Miles” by Thornton freshman Sammy Rabinowitz recalls the comfort of a long-distance relationship. The single was released on Mar. 3. (Courtesy Sammy Rabinowitz)

Music runs through Sammy Rabinowitz’s veins. Whether he’s playing the drums with his band Dark Trilobite back home in the DC area or taking a USC songwriting class, Rabinowitz brings creative talent and an appetite for perfection to every project. 

“I’ve been in music since before I formed memories … I think it’d be a shame to not pursue my passion,” said Rabinowitz, a freshman majoring in popular music. “I think of a passion as indescribable. It’s the thing that calms your heartbeat down and makes you feel comfortable.”

His newest venture is a solo career: his debut single, “2688 Miles,” was released last Friday. The pop ballad recalls a long-distance relationship Rabinowitz had, the distance between them measuring 2688 miles. 

Rabinowitz invited his friend Ava Ulloa, a freshman majoring in communications at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, to sing “2688 Miles.” Ulloa previously sung on Broadway as Matilda in “Matilda the Musical.”

“I wrote these songs that I fell in love with, and then I would listen to recordings of myself singing them, and I was like, ‘My singing voice is not doing the song justice,’” Rabinowitz said. “That’s how I ended up making decisions like bringing in Ava to sing ‘2688 Miles,’ especially with [it being] my favorite one on the album.”

Rabinowitz also brought on Grayson Pollard, a freshman majoring in music production, to produce the track. 

“I learned a lot this year so far and am still learning about how to give each song what it needs,” Rabinowitz said. “That’s one of the things I’m most proud of, is understanding who to bring in to help execute the vision.”

Pollard turned his dorm into a mini recording studio with instruments and multiple computer monitors, which he lent to making “2688 Miles.”

“I made my closet into a vocal booth,” Pollard said. “I hang clothes everywhere, on the sides of it, so it’s a super damp sound … And then I just have my microphone there, music stand and some headphones, enough to release quality vocals.”

Ulloa recorded the vocals in this makeshift studio over one weekend, taking notes from Rabinowitz and Pollard.

“[Rabinowitz is] not afraid to ask for what he wants if he wants something a specific way, which I really appreciate because I feel like sometimes when you’re friends with someone and you’re collaborating, you get a little nervous to give your full opinion,” Ulloa said. “He’s a really honest guy, and he’s really dedicated to what he does.”

In post-production, Pollard mixed the song, synthesizing electronic drums and piano for texture. He also layered guitar and bass lines that Rabinowitz’s friends had recorded, and his own drums.

“I wanted to go for a Beatles sound, like a Ringo vibe,” Pollard said. “I didn’t use many drum mics, like a minimal miking technique and a ribbon mic, which will go for a darker sound on the overheads. I was surprised because it was my first time recording drums on my own, so I was happy with how they sounded.”

Despite support from his inner circle, Rabinowitz still struggled with opening up in his songwriting and jumpstarting his solo career.

“At first, I thought it was going to be freeing to finally have something out there and to really put that stamp on [the fact] that I’m a solo artist as well,” Rabinowitz said. “Instead, I’m still just mega scared because I want everyone to like it, and I want everyone to connect with it.”

Rabinowitz’s upcoming album “What Are We Living For?” features 12 original songs, including “2688 Miles.” The title draws inspiration from something a therapist once quoted to him: “You work to live, but what do you live for?”

“I work so hard on my music, but there’s been so many different avenues lately,” Rabinowitz said. “What do I want to do with my career? I call music my passion, but what am I trying to do within it?”

“2688 Miles” is only the beginning for Rabinowitz. He’s already hard at work on the rest of the album, which features even more student talent.

“The team that helped me out with it is filled with amazingly talented people,” Rabinowitz said. “It’s my version of perfect.”