State In The Real – Penn State Music Scene

Author - Emily Foster



This is the first installment of IndieU’s column in State in the Real. IndieU, similar to State in the Real, is a company that is dedicated to connecting college students to their local music scene. With its online music magazine steaming website ( and mobile app [download on iTunes & Google Play], IndieU offers a unique and valuable music-sharing platform that connects independent artists to college students. Keep an eye out for more IndieU column posts in the future!

If you want to learn everything there is to know about Penn State’s music scene, download the IndieU app TODAY.

This article originally appeared on IndieU’s website on October 7th:


By: Lauren Duncan and Kelly Xiang

Though founded in 2014, The Absolute Sky is a group years in the making. The friends-turned-bandmates formed from the ashes of a collection of high school projects, learning to make music together amidst weekend sleepovers and adolescent antics. Their brand of indie rock is reflective of their youthful spirit: vibrant, wild, and larger-than-life. The five-piece put out their debut album, Rurala, last March, and released their first single since the project, “August In Orange,” earlier this week. We recently caught up with their Penn State-based branch, drummer Joffrey Hoy and guitarist Jamie Lyons, discussing their mishmashed sound, the meaning behind their name, and what’s in store for the future.

How was the band first formed?

Jamie Lyons: We’ve been together since the summer of 2014, but have been kind of on and off being in bands with each other.

How would you describe your sound? Are there any artists in particular you would cite as an influence?

Lyons: Everyone asks us what our sound is all the time, but I never know the answer. I’ve been told we sound like Cage the Elephant, The Who and The Cavemen. Kind of like a ’90s sound. We try and make big, nostalgic music. We’re inspired by Radiohead, Sufjan Stevens and Kurt Vile kind of sounds.

Joffrey Hoy: In the simplest form, it’s rock music. We all like different music, so we try and combine those sounds.

What’s the significance behind your band name?

Lyons: Basically, the whole concept is that our singer [name] wanted to created a collective group where all of his friends could work together. He saw a picture of this guy with Absolut Vodka, and the word Absolut kind of stuck, and then the sky is obviously a huge kind of collective thing so it worked. He’d be able to explain it better, but that’s the main idea. Our original idea was Headshots for Happiness.

Hoy: We’ve had so many band names in the past, The Stowaways turned into Basement Culture and then we’ve had a few other collaborative things like Jesus on Rollerblades.

What were you listening to while making your past release?

Lyons: I was definitely listening to Radiohead at the time we made our new single. We were listening to nostalgic music. Atmospheric, intimate, melancholy music.

Hoy: We recorded this at Temple University’s recording studio, and in my garage I have a little loft area where we can record a lot of this stuff. We have a friend in another band called Reflexes, and he also helps record and produce a lot of our work.

You’re both seniors. Is there anything that you would want your freshman selves to know?

Hoy: I would tell myself to take a year off, save some money and think about a few things before rushing into college and switching my major around. I felt a lot of pressure trying to continue in a straight line.

Lyons: Think about what you want to do more, and try not to worry so much.

What can we expect from you in the future?

Lyons: For our next release, our writing process has been kind of scattered just because of school. We want to add more sound and make it bigger. We’re thinking of maybe brass or strings. We want it to be full.

Hoy: Our lead singer, Branden, has a few notebooks just full of future songs and ideas and lyrics. We’re working on a lot right now.

Lyons: As far as inspiration, our lead singer wrote some of the new stuff while he was going through some intense personal things, so the tone may be a little different than in the past. A lot of the music we’re making for it has been written over the last few years, so it varies.

Hoy: We’re planning on having another album coming out within the next year.

Anything else?

Lyons: Don’t be afraid to chase your dreams and do what you love. Support indie music.

Like IndieU on Facebook.

Follow IndieU on Twitter and Instagram.




Are you an up-and-coming band in the State College music scene? Well if you are, you’re in luck. Happy Valley Music Label, Penn State’s first student run music label, is looking for bands/artists to represent for the upcoming year. HVML was founded in 2014 in order to give local bands and artists the chance to get exposure both on campus and in the local community. After a successful first year, the label is looking for new bands/artists to represent. HVML is comprised of four committees: booking, promotions, A&R and a business team. These committees, whose members are all students, work to book artists in local venues, gain publicity in the campus and local community as well as oversee and help artists record their original music.

HVML currently represents some of State College’s most popular local artists. Their roster includes Keegan Tawa, Lenina Crowne, Mute Cities, Port Vue and more.

If you are interested in being represented by HVML, please visit their website!

Applications for Battle of the Bands 2015 NOW OPEN

movin on

The applications for Battle of the Bands are NOW OPEN at! The event will take place in Alumni Hall on March 21st, 2015 at 8pm. Battle of the Bands is a great way to showcase student bands. The winner of this event will receive the opportunity to be the opening act in Movin’ On 2015. Last year’s winner, Lenina Crowne had the chance to share the stage with acts such as Wiz Khalifa, Fitz and the Tantrums, Aloe Blacc, Sky Ferreira and Air Dubai. Applications are due February 28th, 2015 by 5pm to No late applications will be accepted. Don’t miss the opportunity to be part of the 40th Anniversary of Movin’ On Music Festival!

All bands who consider applying should meet the following requirements:

1. All bands MUST contain at least one member who is a Penn State University Park student.

2. All bands MUST be able to perform a 15-­‐minute set containing only original songs.

3. All bands MUST submit original music samples with their application.

4. No member of the Movin’ On Core or Executive Committee may participate in Battle of the Bands (or at Movin’ On).

5. Musicians may only participate in ONE band.

6. All musical genres are welcome, including but not limited to rock bands, alternative bands, pop acts, acoustic acts, solo acts, DJs, and rappers.

Movin’ On is an annual, ticketless music festival held on campus for University Park students near the end of the spring semester. Penn State’s Movin’ On Spring Music Festival is one of the largest and well-­‐known college music festivals in the United States and has become one of Penn State’s great traditions. This year’s music festival is celebrating its 40th anniversary and will be held at the IM Fields on May 1st, 2015!


Open MIC set to host the Penn State Music Awards on February 26th!

Open MicYes–The Grammy’s Are Finally Coming To Penn State!

The Penn State Music Awards are coming!  This is an awards show put on by Penn State’s Open Music Inspirations and Concepts (Open MIC).  They will be having rounds of nominations for possible candidates to be nominated for a variety of categories.  For example, “Best Male/Female Poet At Penn State”, “Best D.J. At Penn State”, “Best Dance Group At Penn State”, “Best Rapper At Penn State”, “Best Acapella Performance at Penn State” and many more.  After the winners in each category have been determined they will receive their “golden mic” at the event.  After awarding the winners, we will have several student/guest performances.  Following that, “OCD:  Moosh & Twist” will be performing, and opening for them is “Ground Up”.  “OCD:  Moosh & Twist” will be going on their “Patiently Waiting Tour” and Penn State is just one stop among many for them.  They will be traveling and performing in many places, such as New York, Kentucky, Pittsburgh, Texas, and Canada just to name a few.  The group consists of two young male artists, DeQuincy “Moosh” Coleman McRae and Oliver “Twist” Feighan.  The two bonded over their love of music in first grade and have worked together to become the successful hip-hop artists that they are today!  They have over 12 million Youtube views and over 100,000 mixtape downloads.  “Living Out Loud”, their first EP, was ranked in the top 5 on the iTunes Hip-Hop charts and was ranked #1 on Billboard Magazine’s Heatseeker’s list.  The two 21 year olds have opened for artists such as, The White Panda, Hoodie Allen, and Wale.

Moreover, the Penn State Music Awards will allow groups and organizations to be recognized for their talents who may not have been otherwise.  And it also provides an affordable concert for students and others in a convenient location!

Tickets will cost only $11 for PSU students and $15 for PSU faculty/staff, general public and children/youth.  The event will take place on Thursday, February 26, 2015 in Heritage Hall at the HUB at 7:00PM!  This is a cannot miss event, and Open MIC looks forward to seeing you there!

Do you know a talented Penn Stater? Well you are in luck! Open Mic is currently accepting nominations for various cateegories. To nominate a musical act or group, click here.

Country Singer Jana Kramer Will Perform as a Part of SPA LateNight

The Student Programming Association is thrilled to announce that Jana Kramer, the highest debuting female country singer since 2006, will perform as a part of SPA LateNight on Friday December 12, 2014 at 10 p.m. in Alumni Hall in the HUB-Robeson Center. Students need their IDs for entrance.

Jana Kramer first broke onto the scene as a successful actress, appearing in many films and television shows like CSI, Grey’s Anatomy, Prom Night, Friday Night Lights, Entourage, and more. The actress rose to prominence as a series regular on the hit show One Tree Hill. On this program, Kramer introduced her vocal abilities and eventually started a successful music career.

In 2012, Kramer’s first single “Why Ya Wanna” peaked at no. 3 on the Country Radio Chart, quickly making her one of the fastest rising debut country artists in the past few years. Her 2012 self-titled album reached the top five in the Billboard Top Country Album Chart. Recently, Kramer released her single “Love” off her upcoming second album and the song became the number one Spotify viral country song, showing her success and promise as a country singer.

Speaking of her fans and achievements, the “Whiskey” songstress stated: “My fans have continued to support me, even through some tough times. The excitement that they show me when I am on stage gives me confidence. When I go into the studio, I know I’m getting better every day. I sing with every bit of emotion in my body. I feel like I am giving them the best performance I can give.”

All fans are encouraged to attend Jana Kramer’s concert this Friday in Alumni Hall of the HUB. To learn more information about the concert, SPA LateNight, as well as other SPA events, visit

PSU Hip-Hop Artist Releases "One-Take" Video To End Year Long Hiatus

After taking off more than a year and a half from releasing, the King of Prussia native and Penn State student Malik Elarbi is back with one of his most intricate videos to date. Directed by Miles Cable, the single take video will have you going back over and over looking for all the hidden messages Elarbi leaves in the background. Combined with the always-impressive production from Aaron Cipala, the opening piano line will have you hooked from the get-go. Not to mention the phenomenal engineering from Nick Kermelewicz that will have you humming the hook in your head for days to come.


Following two co-ops at Unilever and Johnson & Johnson to support his field of studies in Finance and Supply Chain, Malik has finally found a way to balance his interest in business along with his love for music. Starting in January, Malik will be heading to Seattle for a third co-op with Amazon before returning to The Smeal College of Business in Fall 2015 for the final two semesters of his senior year. In the off time, Elarbi also launched Malik Elarbi Studios to support undercover artists in his hometown of King of Prussia, PA. Keep an eye out for more releases from Elarbi in the near future!

He might have taken a break, but in true Penn State fashion, Malik is back and better than ever.

Go check him out on social media: