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Audio Majors Ian Jake Robleza and Linh Pham Are a Songwriting Team to be Reckoned With

Columbia College Chicago has long been known as one of Chicago’s shining examples of a beacon for collaboration between up-n-coming creatives. In fact, you can look no further than the successful Columbia College Chicago connection of filmmakers George Tillman and Robert Teitel, who founded the motion picture company, State Street Pictures in 1990, known for Barbershop 1 and 2, Men of Honor, and Soul Food, amongst others. That partnership was hatched while both were students at Columbia. Fast forward to today, where we find Audio Department students Ian Jake Robleza and Linh Pham, releasing their first single together entitled, “Little While (feat. Lionah).”

The seeds for this budding partnership with Linh aka Lionah, began in the fall of 2022 during Joe Tessone’s Mastering and Preservation course. Ian was working on the body of “Little While,” and they both started to feel that this song was ripe for a collaboration. According to Ian, “I remember late nights fueled by red bull and self-hatred for procrastinating so much on projects haha, and I’d tell Linh how I managed to stay up and finish them- she’d always be surprised and tell me she couldn’t believe me! Crazy antics like that would repeat itself time and time again.”

Though the idea for working together on this song was starting to take shape, it’s important to note the different angles both Linh and Ian used when creating and working on their own material before embarking on songwriting together. As Linh relates, “I used to always need all of the lyrics written before I could think of arranging. All the songs that I’ve released were made that way. Now I’m trying to use the production to inspire me, which is great because I’m messing around with more complex arrangements than what I’m used to. It’s a work in progress for sure, but it’s one I think will pay off in the long run. The great thing about Columbia is that you’re exposed to so many different people who make their own art and listening to each other’s songs made us want to create something that felt like both our musical intentions fused into one.” Ian, on the other hand, had to diversify his songwriting for this new project. “Prior to the collaboration, my songwriting process was and continues to be pretty sporadic; a lyric here, chord progression there, as they unfold one another from start to finish. “Little While” feels different in the sense that it’s probably the most existential thing I’ve written about so far, and to explore what that should sound like with Linh was something I really appreciated.”

The beginnings of “Little While” were further strengthened as both Ian and Linh were able to witness first-hand their work ethic outside of class as they worked together as studio assistants in the Audio Department. Working together was the impetus for how the song came together. According to Ian, “The first manifestation of “Little While” was way back in the summer of 2023- just a voice memo on my phone. Later that year in October, Linh and I made a demo- during our Wednesday shift actually. Throughout the rest of that semester, I tracked the rest of the instruments, and we made time to record over our scratch vocals in the mini suites. I showed what was probably mix two or three as my final project in Chris Brickley’s Music Design Practicum, but even after that, Linh and I continued to work on it. We finished mastering it in late March, so from the time the first voice memo was created, it’s been about 7 months!”

With the track completed and released, the pair crafted a marketing plan that they hope will bring awareness to this collaboration. According to Ian, “My friend actually recommended I make an EPK for “Little While”- so that everything anyone wanted to know about the song could be in one place. I think an electronic press kit could be a really succinct way to get our song in front of people and publications! Sharing on social media, an official lyric video maybe, and performing the song when it’s on people’s radars too.”

With graduation around the corner, both students have their sights set on consistent employment in the industry as they take steps to ready themselves for their career, knowing full well that further work together is definitely in the cards. According to Linh. “’Little While’ was an incredibly gratifying song to make, and Ian is a great musician to work with…and a silly dude to hang with.”

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