State In The Real – Penn State Music Scene

Category - THON

Shawn Fox Releases “Apricity”

Earlier today, sophomore Shawn Fox released his anticipated freshman album, Apricity. It made its debut only a few hours ago; however, it’s been making waves since it was announced last month. Following the release of well-received singles, curiosity skyrocketed after Fox announced that 75% of album sales would go directly to the Four Diamonds Fund. While his dedication to the cause is a good reason all on its own to invest in the music, I do want to focus more on why you should support it because of the pure talent evident in the piece. He’s only 19, but his instrumentation and composing skills are completely beyond his years.

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Shawn since his high school days. Writing with his talented brother, Ryan Fox, allowed me to get introduced to Shawn’s music, and being able to watch him grow as a songwriter gives me such a feeling of pride, as if he were my own little brother. He’s 4 years younger, but I will always look up to his remarkable ability to leave listeners feeling excited and fulfilled.

Something Fox has always been good at is writing catchy vocals that will get stuck in your head for days, and that gift is extremely evident throughout Apricity. His Brendon-Urie-esque vocals are powerful; however, what’s really impressive is how he uses dynamic instrumentation to take the pop genre in so many different directions. It’s a feel-good album – full of catchy vocal/synth lines and positive, reassuring lyrics – that makes you want to cruise down a tree-lined, fall-embellished highway. While each song gives off its own vibe (folk, beachy, rock, electronic), they all complement one another and create a sound that is solely owned by Shawn Fox.

A few months back, I asked Shawn what the inspiration for Apricity was, to which he responded:

“At the end of the day, I strive to write authentic and memorable songs that resonate with
people of all ages. I think music connects people in ways that merely talking does not.
Throughout the next couple years I hope to further develop myself as a musician and share my
music to the world. If one of my tracks can make you feel something and tap into that innate
sense of emotion many of us have, then I’ll know I’ve done my job.”

Well, Shawn, I can safely say that goal was met because I am one person who hears that lyrical authenticity and the emotional cohesiveness between the instruments and the lyrics. Some songs speak to the highs in life; others to the lows, but they work as a package to reflect the wonderful ride we can all relate to. So, hey, go and support a fellow Penn Stater, and support a lovely cause while you’re at it!

Apricity is now available for purchase on iTunes and for streaming on Spotify.

THON Dancer Interview: Dan Fratoni

We got a chance to talk to Dan Fratoni, a senior management and PR major, who is dancing in THON. Dan frequently pulls all-nighters, and seemed to have no problems staying awake or keeping his energy up.

How is THON so far?
It’s been a blast. It’s crazy. I can [tell what time it is], because of the roles I’ve held with THON in the past so I can gauge the timeline. But I’m feeling fine. It’s totally about eating and stretching and drinking 24/7. I don’t think I’ve put down a bottle of water the entire time. But it’s fun! I still feel like I have the same amount of energy since when I walked in. Almost there- I feel like [the rest] should be interesting. I can do it.

How did you feel when you found out you were dancing?
I was stoked when I found out I was dancing. It was so cool, only because my THON experience previously to dancing my senior year was being a morale committee member as a freshman, public relations captain as a sophomore, then an entertainment captain as a junior. And it was neat because I got to see different aspects. When I was a freshman, you catered to the dancers. And then when I was a sophomore you got to see that outside perspective of THON and what goes into broadcasting that image of what we do. And then entertainment was neat because that tied back into the fact of, “okay what do we need to have here to make these dancers keep going?” And it’s cool that I get to go out doing that. And that’s what I really like about it, which is neat.
It’s awesome because I had no clue what THON was coming into Penn State, and when I first came into the BJC as a moraler it was so cool. And I never had anyone in my family touched by cancer or anything along those lines. But seeing all of those families, it was just one of those things where it was like, “Wow, I can dance to give back,” because in college you do those things that are ‘selfish to get you somewhere in life’ but this keeps you grounded and reminds you to actually live life and that there’s other things out there. It was a wave of emotions, but it was so cool to be selected to dance.

What does the logo or motto mean to you?
I’ll go with the logo. I like the concept of the hot air balloon, only because to me, personally, I think that signifies onwards and upwards. Obviously it means “redefine the possibilities,” but it’s one of those things where the sky is the limit. We’re all here for that reason of hoping that one day there’s a cure.

What role do you think music plays in THON?
Music is huge. Music’s one of those things that you remember a moment or an instant from the second that you hear a song, and it’s captures those memories. And it’s all about the upbeat music to keep the dancers going, to keep the atmosphere in this place what it is. Without it, a huge dynamic of THON would be missing.

What’s your favorite part of the line dance?
The whole Miley Cyrus section is funny as anything. I love it. Doing the Miley face and came in like a wrecking ball. But hey, that was 2013, right?

You kind of answered this before, but why do you THON?
It’s more so for the fact that it’s a chance to give back in the midst of what you’re trying to advance yourself in life as a college student. For me, it was something that made me there’s a lot more out there to life, and after just getting involved in an extracurricular activity as a morale and not knowing what I was going into, I saw that there’s families of people that really do go through things. Although I haven’t had to go through that in my life, other people shouldn’t have to. It was just for the sense of giving back.

Dan with his moraler Madison

Saturday at THON 2014

Today I had the privilege of visiting the floor at THON. As I wandered through the Bryce Jordan Center, surrounded by a sea of vibrant colors and kids wielding water pistols, I chatted with some of the dancers.

Meet dancers Nate Spilman and Kyle Jack representing Phi Mu Delta!

How has your experience been so far?

Kyle: “It’s been amazing getting to see all the families and the children and spending time playing with the kids.”

How have you enjoyed the bands?

Nate: “Lenina Crowne was amazing! They started the weekend on a high note and they’re probably the best band we’ve seen so far.”


Meet moraler Matt Tessitore representing Alpha Sigma Alpha!

What is most interesting costume you have seen so far?

“I’m going to have to go with C3P0. I couldn’t tell if it was a robot or if there was an actual person inside of it.”


Meet dancer Nathan DeTurk representing the Off Campus Student Union!

What songs have you enjoyed dancing to?

“I like the line dance because it gets everyone involved. Everyone is doing the same dance and it brings all of Penn State together.”


Meet dancer William Theodore Olson IV representing the Smeal Student Council!

What songs have you enjoyed dancing to?

“My friend is keeping a “Timber” count. So far, it has been played seven separate times so of course that’s my favorite song.”

What keeps you dancing?

“Everything! From getting sprayed with a water gun to the smiles on the kid’s faces.”


I also got the chance to talk to some of the people working behind the scenes at THON. When I entered the BJC, I was greeted by Captain Tyler Marchewski who had these words to say about THON:

“THON means a lot to me because it brings everyone at Penn State together for a great cause.”


If you’re looking to make a THON playlist, here are some of the best songs I heard at the BJC:

“Wake Me Up”, Avicii; “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, The Beatles; “What Is Love”, Haddaway; “Get The Party Started”, P!nk;  “It’s Tricky”, RUN DMC; “It’s Raining Men”, The Weather Girls; “Under The Bridge”, Red Hot Chili Peppers.

And a big thanks to Victoria Scialfa for guiding me around the BJC!


THON Dancer Interview: Analise Gruenewald

We got a chance to talk to Analise Gruenewald, a senior veterinary and bio-medical sciences major dancing for HEAL.

How is THON so far?
Awesome. Our THON family has been here a ton so that’s great. My moraler is great. THON is awesome. Awesome awesome awesome awesome awesome. Please write that too. Write awesome five times.

How did you feel when you found out you were dancing?
Ecstatic. Ever since my first THON I knew I wanted to dance. When I joined HEAL, I fell in love with it. [Dancing] is a culmination of my involvement. The physical feat of standing for 46 hours is nothing compared to what THON has given me.

What does the logo or motto mean to you?
I’ll do the motto. I’m a science person, and I’m not totally sure, but I think that 70% of the money we raise goes to research. “Redefine the possibilities”- if we keep putting money to it, we’ll get closer to a cure and eventually not have to do this anymore.

What role do you think music plays in THON?
It’s huge. I give a lot of props to the ENT captains because they’re keeping the music fresh and exciting. It keeps up the energy.

If you could have one artist perform at THON, who would it be?
Timeflies. They’re still small but THON loves Timeflies so it would be perfect. Also I think their songs capture the spirit of THON.

What’s your favorite part of the line dance?
The Miley Cyrus part. I’m really into her right now. She’s crazy and she’s doing what she wants.

Why do you THON?
A lot of reasons. Everybody knows someone effected by cancer. For me, I’ve been involved with some of the best people I know at this school for the best causes- everyone is here not caring about anything but having fun. And spraying me with a water gun. It’s probably something I’ll never experience again in my lifetime.

THON Dancer Interview: Eric Taylor

We got a chance to talk with dancer Eric Taylor, a junior EBF major dancing for the business fraternity AKPsi.

How is THON so far?
Since I’m a junior, this is my 3rd THON. My first thought was that it’s unbelievable- I fell in love with it right away. Coming to this THON, I can’t put it into words- it’s unbelievable. Coming through the human tunnel, you can really start to feel the atmosphere. What we’re able to do for the 4 Diamonds Fund is incredible. Kids can come here for the weekend and be kids. I can’t put it into words.

How did you feel when you found out you were dancing?
It’s tough because we had a lot of good people trying to dance who put a lot of effort in. When I found out that I was dancing, it was the biggest honor. I know how much people put into it, so it’s an extreme honor to represent my organization and our THON family.

What role do you think music plays in THON?
It keeps the energy going. For me, 5 or 6 hours ago I was feeling kind of tired. But a band came on and started playing upbeat songs and it kept the energy up. It keeps everything positive for us to keep going, especially for the final 4. The place is electrified.

Why do you THON?
Speaking from personal experience, coming to Penn State and meeting the THON families and kids is incredible. Everyone has been affected by cancer. The burden is puts on the family…and it’s not fair to put that on a child. THON helps to work to a future where parents don’t have to hear, “Your child has cancer.”

Jaime Pritzker: Kickin' Butt All 46!

Earlier this week, we got to sit down with Jaime and chat with her about her expectations, excitement, and anticipation for THON. Well now that THON is in full swing, we were able to find Jaime through the sea of capes and tutu’s to see how she’s been so far and if it is all she hoped it would be!

How are you doing so far?

Good. My feet hurt, but whose doesn’t? I don’t really have a voice right, either, but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else right now. All this stuff is mental, so if I can push through the pain, I’ll be fine.

What has been your favorite part so far about THON 2014?

Me and 12 other dancers from my sorority and paired fraternity just walked all through the halls hanging on to one long rope like you did when you were in kindergarten. Everyone was staring at us, but it was so much fun, and that’s all that really mattered. That’s what this weekend is all about, and I’m loving every moment of it.

What’s something you’re looking forward to?

I’m trying no to look forward to anything, because every moment is one closer to the end. So I’m enjoying every single second as it comes, and I’ll enjoy every second until the very end.

What’s been your favorite song to dance to so far? 

“Can’t Remember to Forget You” by Shakira and Rihanna.

Jaime’s doing great so far, and we will be catching up with her after THON to talk about her full experience as a THON dancer. Keep up the good work everyone! You’re doing great, especially you, Jaime!