Zoomin’ through quarantine: Gursh’s new single is a catchy success

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Courtesy Mark Padaong and Gurshaan Arora

2019 Los Altos High School alumnus Gurshaan Arora has received an outpouring of support and positive feedback, as well as a $500 prize, after the release of his new single, "Zoom!" The current Foothill College student wasn't expecting much when he submitted his music video to the Foothill COVID-19 PSA Contest, but he says that the success of "Zoom!" has inspired him to get back into songwriting and see where his hobby takes him.

By Elana Eisenberg, Staff Writer

While most people were baking a thousand loaves of banana bread or giving questionable haircuts to their family members during quarantine, 2019 Los Altos High School alumnus Gurshaan Arora (Gursh) was writing the lyrics to “Zoom!,” an original song that would end up winning him $500.

Gursh is currently attending Foothill College as a biology major. When the school’s curriculum transitioned to online learning, he found himself with an abundance of extra time. As soon as he saw the flyer for the Foothill COVID-19 Public Service Announcement (PSA) Contest, he immediately knew that he needed to enter. 

The contest, which advertised a $500 prize, encouraged members of the Foothill student body to submit a PSA in a creative format that focused on one of four topics surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic: online resources, mental health, xenophobia and misinformation. Gursh entered the online resources category, and “Zoom!” — a catchy, original song about the virtual learning opportunities at Foothill — was born.

“I remember thinking, if I win, I win. If I don’t, at least I’ll get a song out of it,” he said. “It’s a creative release for me and a way to destress.”

Gursh has been writing music about different school-related topics since he was in fifth grade, from his sixth grade graduation verse to the tune of “Feel this Moment” by Pitbull and Christina Aguilera to his “Group 2” song as a part of the 2018 Los Altos Homecoming court. Once he decided to enter the contest, however, Gursh realized he didn’t have the proper equipment to record his song with the audio quality that he wanted.

Gursh got to work buying equipment and asked some of his friends for help, starting by purchasing a starter microphone and setting it up in his closet. He also reached out to 2018 Los Altos High School alumnus Emilio Sanchez, as well as Emilio’s younger brother, junior Nicco Sanchez, for help with the production process. Emilio created a beat and sent it to Gursh, who then listened to it on repeat to kickstart the songwriting process.

“I don’t really have any specific inspiration for my music because I listen to a variety of artists and genres,” Gursh said. “When I’m writing, the process in my head revolves around which artist I could see on the beat or what songs the beat reminds me of.” 

Once Gursh wrote the lyrics and recorded the vocals of “Zoom!,” he began sending different audio files to Nicco. When it came time to mix the vocals with Emilio’s beat, Nicco and Gursh called each other over FaceTime so that they could both hear the song come together and collaborate in real time.

After spending 16 hours writing, recording, producing and filming, Gursh submitted his final “Zoom!” music video to the judging panel of the contest, not expecting much to happen. 

“I’d say I mostly felt surprised when I won, not because I didn’t think it was a quality piece of music, but because they really liked it,” Gursh said.

Within hours of the announcement, Gursh’s project was being shared by educators and his peers on a variety of different social media platforms. Foothill College president Thuy Thi Nguyen tweeted that her kids couldn’t stop listening to the song, and the music video was even published in the California Community Colleges newsletter.

“It’s been kind of surreal because writing the song was more so for the creative opportunity,” Gursh said. “I hadn’t really explored doing music as a serious career or trying to make money off of it.”

Gursh is still committed to completing his education and plans to go to medical school in the future, but he says that the success of “Zoom!” has inspired him to create more music and see where it takes him.

“My goal is to release an EP before the year ends,” Gursh said. “I plan on making songs about non-school related topics in the future, but I’d still like those songs to connect to my experiences growing up, such as the hidden aspects of Silicon Valley or the good times I shared with my friends during my high school days.”

As Gursh continues to draw musical inspiration from his background, he is constantly reminded of the people and places that have supported him along the way. 

“I’ve gotten the most dedicated support from former and current Los Altos students. That’s why it was important to me that Talon covered ‘Zoom!’” Gursh said. “At the end of the day, those are my roots. That’s what matters most.”