Lawrence University senior Tomi Oladunjoye is blending interests in music and wellness into entrepreneurial pursuits as he heads toward graduation.
Oladunjoye, of Boston, Massachusetts, crafted a self-directed music major focused on electronic music and entrepreneurship. He’s in the early stages of launching ZOANYI, a music-focused wellness enterprise that creates, among other things, sound bath symphonies aimed at sparking imagination while reducing stress.
He will present one of his sound bath symphonies, an immersive sonic experience, as part of a show scheduled for 6:30 p.m. June 6 in Stansbury Theater. It is a follow-up to two sound bath symphony experiences he showcased in Warch Cinema earlier this year.
The ZOANYI musical experiences are meant to be creative and meditative in nature, Oladunjoye said.
“We create sound bath symphonies that not only have elements of meditation, so listeners can come with wonder and leave with peace, but also elements to spark imagination,” he said.
Oladunjoye said he’s interested in how he can use his music to build tools that enhance wellness. The launch of ZOANYI and its website is a chance to dip his toes into those waters to see where it might lead.
Finding a musical path
Oladunjoye came to Lawrence four years ago with plans to pursue engineering through one of Lawrence’s cooperative programs. He has a fascination with building cars and thought that might be his path. His love of music-making, though, kept tugging at him.
“As a first-year student at Lawrence, I had so many ideas of things I wanted to do,” Oladunjoye said. “I was on the football team; I was thinking I wanted to do something with engineering, and I still might; I wanted to be part of Makerspace; I wanted to do something in musical theater. I was thinking I wanted to do everything, but I didn’t have a specific thing.”
Conversations with Brian Pertl, dean of the Conservatory, and other Lawrence faculty helped him find direction. And spending time in and around the Conservatory sparked new interests.
“The free time I had during COVID actually helped me see what I want to do,” Oladunjoye said. “I found SOL Studios [a student-run recording space in the Music-Drama Center] and for one summer during COVID I was there almost every day from 7 p.m. to about 3 a.m.”
He was creating musical tracks, experimenting with sounds, searching for creative outlets.
“I realized I wasn’t getting sick of this stuff,” Oladunjoye said. “I loved making music. I really like the challenge of putting emotions through frequencies, through music. It just kept evolving from there.”
That led to him working with his academic advisor and others in the Conservatory to craft a self-directed music major.
“Tomi is a student with boundless curiosity, endless drive, and creative ideas that are big, bold, and beautiful,” Pertl said. “Lawrence’s seamless integration of music production, composition, entrepreneurship, and customized faculty support provided the ideal environment for Tomi to maximize his incredible potential. It has been such a pleasure working with Tomi throughout his Lawrence journey.”
Now, as graduation nears, Oladunjoye is experimenting with ways to combine his music with the promotion of immersive sound baths, another of his passions.
“Why not use music to inspire creativity in people?” Oladunjoye said. “That’s what artists do. They connect with their fans through their music. I want to do it through wellness, through sound baths. Why not use music for good? I’m trying to create a different way to listen to music, more of a service.”
“I just love learning”
Oladunjoye has worked with Gary Vaughan, lecturer in innovation and entrepreneurship and coordinator of Lawrence’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship program, and Michael Clayville, visiting assistant professor of music in entrepreneurial studies and social engagement, as he’s explored potential business paths forward.
“If I had it to do over again, I’d tell my freshman self to tighten it up a little bit but also that it’s good to keep imagining,” Oladunjoye said. “I think that’s one thing I didn’t lose—imagination. But one thing I did gain was structure. I believe Lawrence helped me with that. “
What direction his entrepreneurial interests eventually take remains an open question. But the process of getting to this point has been thrilling, Oladunjoye said.
“I just love learning,” he said.
Oladunjoye is a huge proponent of Lawrence’s newly introduced business and entrepreneurship major, an interdisciplinary program that leans into the liberal arts. It will give students new opportunities to carve their own path into the business world, be it in music or elsewhere.
“You have some of the best professors here who actually really care,” Oladunjoye said. “You come to them, and they’ll drop everything for you. They want to see you succeed. I feel that every time I come to them.”