State In The Real – Penn State Music Scene

Weekly Outsource with Jon Markson

time crisis

We at State In The Real strive to bring you the most up to date goings on the revolving the PSU music scene. However we also think its important to take a look at what musicians from other campuses are doing at their schools to improve their music scene and check out their tunes. Fresh ideas never hurt anyone right?

The first outsource of the week goes to school at Connecticut College, and is quite the multi-tasker. Jon Markson, a senior and active member of the music scene at Conn College, is a creative force behind the hip-hop group known as Time Crisis, as well the indie-rock band; Shake The Baron from Boston (correct, he is in a band from Boston while going to school in Connecticut). Did I mention he also records and produces the music for both of these projects? Now in an attempt to start a solo act, Jon has been releasing one solo EP per month since June under the moniker “Community of Living Things,” and plans to keep doing so until may.

For fans of The Decemberists, American Football, Pedro the Lion, Death Cab For Cutie, or just indie rock in general.. Please check out the song Sirens from Jon’s album “August.” And check out the rest of “Community of Living Things” here

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SITR: You’ve been in numerous music projects before now and you’ve been featured in many albums, what made you decide to finally do a solo project?

Markson: I’ve been so accustomed to working with other people, which is the core of being in a band. Both of my other projects, Time Crisis and Shake the Baron, are very much collaborative entities. At the beginning of this past summer I holed up in my Brooklyn apartment, guitar and cassette machine in hand, and decided that I was going to write “songs” for the first time. I’ve been writing and composing in bands for years but hardly had a repertoire of material I could play by myself! I figured that it was about time I did.

SITR: What is the reason behind writing, recording and releasing an EP every month?

Markson: At first the idea was just so I could consistently write new material and release it and force myself to do it by imposing a monthly deadline, but it quickly became much more than that. I really love the process of putting together a release. I’m super obsessed with thematic and artistic continuity, so I’ve been putting in a lot of effort to make each EP stand on its own as well each one exhibiting my own personal aesthetic. For instance, June was essentially just acoustic guitar and voice. July was all ‘full band’ instrumental. August was acoustic guitar, electronic drums, bass, and (generally) soft singing. Etc… I think they all distinctly sound like “my” music though.

SITR: Do you intend to play live with this project? Do you have any upcoming shows in the works?

Markson: I actually just played my first show as “Community of Living Things” a few weeks ago at “Goodbye Blue Monday” in Brooklyn. I’ll be playing a few shows around New England and New York during the semester and hopefully a bit of touring during winter break. I just need to make sure I give myself enough time to write, record, mix, master, and release each EP!

SITR: How is your schools music scene? Has it helped or hurt your efforts in getting your music noticed?

Markson: Connecticut College’s music scene is awesome, even though we are a school of only 2,000 kids. We are super lucky because we have an organization known as M.O.B.R.O.C (Musicians Organized For Bands’ Rights On Campus) of which I am the president this year. We have a huge practice and storage space for bands known as The Barn, which is actually just an old dilapidated squash court, where bands and musicians can freely practice and create. We also book shows all over campus and in New London, where the school is located, in order to further the music scene. The student body is very supportive here.

SITR: Is there any significance behind the name?

Markson: At the beginning of the summer a friend gave me this really cool old book from the 50’s called “The Community of Living Things: Forest and Woodland”. Its from a series of educational books for children about animals and plants in their natural habitats. The title of the book struck a chord with me, and most of my songs in this project thus far have dealt with life, death, and the various human conditions such as fear, hope, love, etc..

SITR: What do you foresee happening for Community of Living Things? Will you call it quits after the 12th EP?

Markson: When I’m done with “May”, which will be the 12th EP in the series, I’m going to be releasing a limited edition run of all the EP’s on CD, cassette, and T-shirt w/ free digital download packed with a ton of extras and b-sides that got put on the back burner over the course of the year. After that I’m going to be begin work on a “Community of Living Things” full length.

SITR: What advice do you have for other musicians attempting to break into the scene as well as maintain a solid academic career.

Markson: It’s really hard to juggle music, academics, and a social life. The best advice I could give is to keep writing music and putting yourself out there through shows and social media. Make yourself known for working your ass off on your craft. I’m lucky in the fact that a lot of my social life revolves around the music and art scene, the more you can make those two worlds intersect the better! I guess keeping up with your classes is pretty important too.

As a musician I’ve had over 15 people come to me saying they want to get a band together but can’t find a space to practice, and even more who specifically just need a place to house a drumset.
All in favor of petitioning for an old dilapidated squash court, say I Aye.
~Topher Out