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Kyle Robert, Ellen Hogan ‘16, and Har­rison Doyle make up the band Sunset East. Facebook

As a student, Ellen Hogan ’16 could be expected to perform in most campus musical events. From both chamber and school choirs to Phi Mu Alpha’s Battle of the Bands and Coffee House, Hogan estab­lished her broad musical ability. Now Hogan brings this ver­sa­tility to Nashville-based band Sunset East as its frontman and newest member. 

When Hogan audi­tioned, drummer Har­rison Doyle and bassist Kyle Robert were reviving their band. But they didn’t have a singer or a guitar player. They sent out a notice for audi­tions, but nobody lived up to expec­ta­tions. 

“Except for Ellen,” Doyle said. “Ellen was actually one of the few that I was able to find, and she was absolutely phe­nomenal. We were so happy with the way that she sounded. Right after the first audition we were like, ‘I think that’s the one.’” 

Robert and Doyle had cul­ti­vated a style with rock and Southern influ­ences, Robert having played with The Band Perry, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Chase Rice. Hogan, however, loves pop — espe­cially Ed Sheeran. With the three working together, their style is a mix of country, pop, Tom Petty, The Eagles, and “a big blend of every­thing,” Hogan said. 

With Hogan’s styl­istic influence, Robert said the band now appeals to a broader audience. The band adjusts its style depending on the audience, bringing out the country influence for some crowds, while adding a pop twist to country songs for others. 

Each member brings a dif­ferent skill to song­writing, cre­ating a strong team and playing to their strengths, Robert said.

 “We all write together, which we balance out really well,” Hogan said. 

Robert writes lyrics, Har­rison works with the chord struc­tures, and Hogan creates a skillful melody line. 

“Ellen’s influence in pop has really vocally and melod­i­cally taken us into that com­mercial direction where we’re able to utilize the har­monies of The Eagles, use the jam ses­sions of Dave Matthews, and still have a pop feel that’s viable to almost any demo­graphic,” Robert said. 

While Doyle did not have much pre­vious interest in pop style, he said it was a welcome change. 

“Just the way that the style blended into what we already had, it just worked so well,” he said.

A music major at Hillsdale, Hogan said she did not expect her clas­sical training to help her as much as it has. She also gives input to her band­mates, helping with tonal quality and har­mo­nizing. As a member of the student band The Biting Goats at Hillsdale, she said she learned to manage a band, applying her business classes to orga­ni­zation and logistics. 

“Everyone in the band is pro­fes­sional in a great way,” Robert said. “And every decision is made with everyone in mind and together, which is what I’ve always envi­sioned.” 

Senior Jacob Hann, a member of Phi Mu Alpha and friend of Hogan said when vis­iting her in Nashville, he could see her love for its ener­getic music scene.

 “I know she’s very pas­sionate about it,” Hann said “She’s doing what she ulti­mately wanted to do.”