State In The Real – Penn State Music Scene

Author - Olivia Price

PS-U Oughta Know Artist: Julie Bouchard


Photo: Zoë Kushlefsky

Meet junior Education major Julie Bouchard – a young woman with a voice to rival Hayley Williams and modesty to rival…well, probably everyone.  She’s only 20 years old, but the long list of musical involvement and achievements that adorn her resume is on par with that of someone twice her age.

Prior to even arriving at Penn State, the Oyster Bay native had been playing piano since the age of 5, writing songs since middle school, and to top it all off, by her senior year of high school, Bouchard had already published an orchestral piece and interned with the competitive Oratorio Society of  Queens (an audition-based classical choir.)  This kind of classical training, no doubt, provided the stable foundation for her current  successes.  At Penn State, she composed and performed music for the School of Music’s productions of “Little Town Blues” and “Once,” performed with the Oriana Singers for two years, and won “Best Female Songwriter” and “Best Acoustic Act” at the Penn State Music Awards for two consecutive years.

Impressed yet? (If yesjul5, keep reading. If no, keep reading.) How about  once I tell you that, despite the talent she possesses as a songwriter and  singer, she has no interest in being in the spotlight?  In a statement, the  songstress revealed, “I like the idea of assuming a behind-the-scenes role  when it comes to music.  I love writing and I love putting my songs out  there, but I don’t think I’d mind putting my songs out there for other  people to sing.  I could still release my ideas into the world, but while also  maintaining normalcy in my own life.”

There’s no question that twenty-somethings as level-headed as Julie is a  rare breed among college populations.

Julie’s ear for catchy vocal lines transfers well into the acoustic pop genre  she typically represents in her songwriting. You can clearly recognize the way in which her #1 influences (Ed Sheeran, Mariana’s Trench, and Adele)  help to craft the way she plays guitar, attacks notes, and structures songs.  While she may draw upon other artists for inspiration, her voice is all her own.  Its spherical sound is booming, rich, and raw, and it engulfs you when you hear it.  She utters the most impressive vocal runs and jumps among any of the many singers I personally know, but all the while making it look absolutely effortless.

Already, she has a staggering 30+ original songs written, with each one coming to life in just under 10 minutes. She insists that if she likes a song she’s working on enough, then writing it should feel natural and fluid.  If she ever feels like she’s struggling to connect to the content in that moment, then it’s not worth it for her to keep pursuing. “I’ll throw out the idea and move on to the next one.”

If you want to catch one of Julie Bouchard’s jaw-dropping performances, keep your eyes peeled for open mics on and off-campus, as she’s a regular attendee.  In the meantime, though, settle your anxiousness by listening to her Soundcloud and Youtube channels.


Recap: Penn State Music Awards 2015


Yesterday, Open Mic Penn State held its 2015 Penn State Music Awards in Heritage Hall.  The night, designed to highlight the year’s most active and deserving student artists, featured musical performances of varying genres, improv dancing, spoken word pieces, and, of course, trophy distributions to the new generation of winners (listed below.)

Each one of the performers (also listed below) had something special to showcase.  There’s no denying that we have some truly talented artists here at Penn State, many of which unfortunately go unnoticed by the vast majority.  However, I will say that, in my mind, there were a few artists who truly resonated and showcased a unique style that’s all their own:

Keegan Tawa

Photo: Jonny Rabbit Photography

This electro-house musician is by no means a stranger to the spotlight, but for those of you who are only familiar with the name and not the music, I highly encourage you to attend one of his frequent Chome/house show performances. Keegan Tawa truly has an ear and brain for music.  Pushing the limits of a genre is almost second nature to him.  Tonight’s performance is just one example of this ability, as he creatively incorporated jazz saxophone and featured spoken word monologues into the mixes of his original electronic tracks.

Penn State Fanaa
Photo: Penn State Fanaa Facebook Page

Admittedly, it took me until the second song to realize it, but Penn State Fanaa introduces an entirely new dynamic to the organized mess of a cappella groups found on campus.  They describe themselves as an ensemble of South Asian singers who employ members’ diverse backgrounds to bring together a “fusion of cultures,” and I have to say that they achieve this mission rather nicely.  There was one girl in particular who blew me away with her beautiful, haunting vocal trills – a singing technique that characterizes a lot of Indian music.

David Gaines
Photo: David Gaines Soundcloud

Ohh myy David Gaines! You may remember seeing him perform at THON’s Got Talent last Friday night, but you may not remember what exactly he said in his spoken word performance.  Believe me when I declare that Gaines is probably one of the most articulate students we have here at Penn State. He is able to poetically piece together real, raw societal commentaries and set them to a rhythm.  As he’s performing, he makes you think, reflect, and feel.  I truly hope he gains more traction because he has a gift that deserves to be shared more widely.


And without further adieu, your 2015 winners of the Penn State Music Awards are:
Best Singer: Olivia Price & Shawn Fox
Best DJ: Keegan Tawa
Best Producer: Keegan Tawa
Best Songwriter: Julie Bouchard & Louie Petrone
Best Performer: Olivia Price & Daniel Wells
Best Dance Group: R.A.M. Squad
Best Poet: Jerrie Johnson & David Gaines
Best Rapper: Louie Petrone
Best Mixtape: Louie Petrone
Best Band: Mute Cities
Best Acoustic Performance: Julie Bouchard
Best A cappella Group: The Pennharmonics
Artist of the Year: Louie Petrone

Complete List of Performers:
Keegan Tawa (electronic)
Penn State Fanaa (a cappella)
Daniel Wells (r&b/jazz)
David Gaines (spoken word)
R.A.M. Squad (dance)
Andros Kalos
Ashadeep (spoken word/rap)
Julie Bouchard (acoustic pop)
Cecil Blutcher (rap)
Louie Petrone (rap)
**Moosh & Twist (hip-hop/rap)**


Congratulations to all of this year’s winners, nominees, and performers!  Each one of you is an integral part of Penn State’s developing music scene.

SOMA Arts Crawl Applications ACTIVE

Calling all musicians and artists: A couple days ago, SOMA (Students Organizing the Multiple Arts) announced the official February 28th applications deadline for their annual spring music and art festival, Arts Crawl.  The event, which is scheduled for Friday, April 17th, will feature talent both internal and external to the State College area.

art art3

For those of you who don’t already have the pleasure of knowing what Arts Crawl is, allow me to be your guide: Extending throughout the northern portion of campus, Arts Crawl is a festival-style event designed to celebrate the arts.  With over four different venues, soloists and bands are given time slots to perform original music, and artists are provided with spaces to display their original pieces (examples featured above, artists TBD.)  The evening wraps up with a widely-known (widely-known in an underground sense) headlining act.  In the past, headliners have included Why?, Ramona Falls, Future Islands, and most recently Kevin Devine.

We’ll be sure to announce the 2015 headliner once the gods grace us with the knowledge, but in the meantime, apply apply apply!

kevinmumblr*Photo credit to Eric Poluhovich (bands) and Simeon Pantelidis (art) for the featured photos.

Have Yourself A Very Alternative Christmas [Playlist]

Photos courtesy of RidetheTempo, Putninsh, and Rebloggy

Don’t get us wrong, we love Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Dean Martin just as much as the next music blog, but let’s be honest, we’re all getting a bit tired of the same 5 classic renditions that are played on repeat over the holiday season. Holiday songs are supposed to put you in the holiday spirit, so what do you do when listening to them starts to make you cringe? Should you stop listening? NO. You turn to State in the Real to give your ears a rest and your spirit a lift!

Presenting our Very Alternative Christmas playlist: featuring The Killers, She & Him, The Wombats, Fitz and the Tantrums, and many many more!

From everyone here at SITR, good luck on finals, have an awesome break, and happy holidays!

Lenina Crowne's Plans To Keep Rocking Penn State

Good news, Lenina Crowne fans: The 5-sometimes-6-man band isn’t leaving us quite yet!  With lead singer, Eric Faust, graduating this December, that leaves one remaining member (graduate student and State College’s own sexy sax man, Nick Rudenko) enrolled at Penn State for the coming year.  As fall graduation quickly approaches, rumors are circulating that Lenina may be taking advantage of the free time to make a daring move to the Philly music scene.  After attending their Friday Noontime performance and speaking with the members, State in the Real is pleased to announce that we have at least one more semester, if not more, of the folk-rock, testosterone-powered band.

Eric Faust relayed the band’s overall sentiments towards a potential advantage of pursuing music in a small town, like State College, over a big city, like Philadelphia.  To put it simply, State College is a central meeting and practicing place for all the members, they’re guaranteed 3-4 shows per week here, and now that all of the members have completed their undergraduate degrees, they have more time to seriously write and record.

“Everything is done online nowadays,” says Faust, “It used to be that a band would play some renowned club in the city with a big-time producer in the back who was scouting new bands to sign.  It’s not like that anymore. For the most part, bands find fame over the internet and social media, so if we can pursue music seriously in a comfortable town, like State College, with guaranteed shows and without having to kill ourselves working to make a living in the city, then why wouldn’t we?”  In the same breath, Faust didn’t discount the possibility of one day moving to Philly once things are more set in place for all of the members.

Some more exciting news from Eric: Lenina Crowne is scheduled to record with the underground-famous Philadelphia recording studio, Weathervane Music (famous for launching the career of Sharon Van Etten, among others, through its highly-viewed Shaking Through Sessions) this January! Stay tuned, readers, because it sounds like LC has some serious tricks up its sleeves for the coming year.