by Elizabeth Jancsy `18
If you are Oliver Penn ’17, your weekend might look a little different than the average college student’s. Instead of just relaxing with friends, your weekend plans would also include picking up your guitar, standing in front of an audience, and playing your heart out. As Penn set up for another night of rocking, the senior marketing major and full time musician had plenty to say about his passion for music and future in the business.
“My mom stuck me in piano lessons like everybody else, and I just loved it,” said Penn, “and kept with it. I just wanted to play guitar and drums so bad and she was like you gotta start with piano!” Playing since what feels like forever for him, Penn fell in love with the many sounds of music, recalling his lessons in piano, as well as eventually learning both the drums and guitar.
Learning to play new instruments and being able to create new sounds, Penn started playing around with new styles, thus creating the label of his own music. “I used to put my music in a certain genre, I used to really want to do blues rock and alternative blues, but recently I have decided not to put a name on it. I’ve been collaborating a lot, but it will always be changing.”
Penn remembers the start of his performance career, writing songs that he deemed “not good” in fourth and fifth grade. It wasn’t until sophomore year of high school that things became more serious for him. “I played in school dances in high school, and some were originals but they wanted covers. I always tried to push my stuff. I wanted people to hear my songs!”
Penn notes that his recent move to do more collaborations has had an impact on his sound as well. “Certain artists rub off on you, so I think my sound evolves when I collaborate, but it’s also myself as well. I live in Houston so I’ve gotten to work with some cool artists and I want to keep going with that.”
Aside from performing live and working on collaborations with other artists, Penn is also no stranger to the intimacy of a studio. Releasing a few singles in the past, with the goal of releasing a full-length album soon, Penn prepares to pass his work around.
Deeming Chance the Rapper as one of his musical role models, Penn strives for independency in his music. “He basically has proven to young artists that you can release your own music for free and still make it,” says Penn, “For me, my goal is to keep releasing it the way I want to release it. SoundCloud, Spotify. It’s about learning from mistakes and tweaking it. Learning if I want to have it wider spread or anticipate it and promo it for a longer time. It’s all about learning.”
Penn’s goal for the rest of the year is to release a few more singles before he finally compiles them all for his album. When asked if it will be hard to choose what makes the final album after completing so many singles, he said, “I’m working on just recording all of them, and then the day I actually have to pick I will just be like ‘Okay these!’ and just put them out there. There are songs that I always knew would be on the album, but the rest will just happen that way.”
Penn seems confident in the road ahead, knowing that he will always have a hand in the approach to his music. From the business side to actual composition, Penn will always stay true to himself.