Student Spotlight: Dakota Cohen

Get to know the singer-songwriter and L.A. native ahead of her performance at the Recording Academy's Texas Chapter Block Party during SXSW this week. 

March 13, 2023

What’s it like to study at Berklee? Our Student Spotlight series asks current students all about their Berklee experience—what they’re learning in class, what kinds of projects they’re involved in onstage or behind the scenes, how they recharge, and of course, what they’re listening to. This week, get to know Dakota Cohen, an eighth-semester double major in contemporary writing and production and music business/management. The singer-songwriter and Los Angeles native recently released a new single, “Same Way,” and was selected to perform at the Recording Academy's Texas Chapter Block Party during South by Southwest on March 15.

Follow Dakota on Instagram and TikTok

Tell us about your path to Berklee. What made you decide to come here?

I have always known that music is my path and what I want to do for the rest of my life. I’ve been studying music since I was 5, learning to play new instruments and to write my own songs. Through performing with cover bands at home, I found my passion for performance and knew I wanted to be on stage one day, singing my own originals with a band. Once I stumbled upon a Caf show performance by Berklee students, I knew that I wanted to study here. I wanted to learn more about the music industry, but most importantly, I wanted to gain skills as my own musician and be able to write and produce my own music.

What's been your favorite class so far, and what has it taught you?

My favorite class so far has been the Songwriter Practicum taught by Rodney Alejandro and Jason Petrin. This course is all about collaboration and working with different songwriting briefs, which I feel is super crucial when entering into the music industry. This course is great for students who are getting ready to graduate and looking to meet new collaborators.

What's a project you've worked on since coming to Berklee that you've been especially excited about?

I’m always excited about new music that I’m working on. Since coming to Berklee, I’ve learned a lot about production, and it’s always exciting to apply what I’ve learned to my own music on both the composition and production side. During my time here, I’ve released a couple of singles and now I have more music coming out soon. I’m also super grateful for my performance opportunities at Berklee’s BPC shows. I sang in some Singer Showcase concerts—Tina Turner and the music of Sting and the Police—and it was such a dream to share a big stage with so many talented musicians. I’m always super excited for more performance opportunities that Berklee has to offer, like Two Track and Career Jam.

Watch Dakota's music video for "Favorite Mistake": 

How do you typically recharge or find new ideas outside of class?

I love exploring new restaurants and shops around Boston! It’s so nice to get around in the city when I can and discover new areas in town.

When you think towards your own future, who inspires you most?

My peers. Being at Berklee, I’m surrounded by the most amazing artists and musicians that push me to be better everyday. I love being with creative people because they inspire me in so many ways, so I hope I can continue that in my future.

What's one piece of advice you'd give to your high school self?

Be yourself and don’t ever give up! When you’re feeling down, there is always something around the corner. In our industry especially, authenticity is key. I try to always remember that now so I don’t get lost in the pressure of being a musician in this competitive industry.

Dakota’s Top Five Songs Right Now

1. "Go Thru Your Phone," PJ Morton

I’ve always loved this song and I’ve seen PJ about four times now. He is one of the best performers I’ve ever seen.

2. "Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now," McFadden & Whitehead

Such a classic! Whenever I’m feeling down, I know this song will put me in a good mood.

3. "Beatbox," Lucid Monday

It’s just a feel-good groove to put on repeat. Every time I listen to it, I find new elements that I didn’t notice before. So much ear candy!

4. "Orange Juice," Noah Kahan

Noah Kahan is one of my favorite songwriters ever, and this song just gets me teary-eyed every single time I listen to it.

5. "The Words," Muni Long

VOCALS!!! Muni Long has such an addictive voice and this production really give her vocals the room to shiiiiiiiine!

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