Charleston abounds with local artists of all sorts: visual, decorative, performing. You name it and the odds are Charleston has it. But there is something special about the following six musicians; not only do they write, produce, sing and play their own music, they are college students. On top of classes, internships and extracurricular activities, these six manage to create their own albums and EPs while balancing the stresses that come with being a student. The next time you might want to succumb to a Netflix binge, perhaps take a note from one of these six student musicians and instead listen to your inner creativity…you never know where it might take you.
Alessandro Di Marzio
“The awesome weather isn’t what attracted me [to the College], it’s the balance between nature and city.” For Alessandro Di Marzio, being outdoors, whether that be for a day- long hike or just a walking between classes, serves as his main source of inspiration when producing- music which he describes as a self- reflection in the genre of “vocal electronic music.” Di Marzio began djing in his freshman year of high school; by the time he was a freshman in college, he had switched over to producing. “I fell in love with how to express myself through music. It was an outlet beyond just playing music for people.” His process consists of first humming lyrics, then laying down the instrumentals and lastly going back and recording vocals. He accomplishes all of this through a midi keyboard which acts as a USB piano he plugs into his computer. Di Marzio’s music is deeply personal. “If you listened to my lyrics,” he said, “you’d know exactly what I was going through.” Di Marzio has an EP coming out in late Feburary available on SoundCloud at soundlcoud.com/fabriziomusic.
The first bass Anjali Naik played was given to her by a customer she served at her family’s restaurant. He brought the bass for her on Christmas and she still plays it today. Naik learned to play acoustic guitar when she was in seventh grade and now produces her own music, incorporating guitar and vocals that she describes as “socially conscious chill music.” Naik is the founder of Girls Rock Charleston, a volunteer-based grassroots organization that empowers girls and trans youth through music, feminism and social justice education in afterschool and summer camp programs. “I like doing things people wouldn’t normally think I would do,” Naik said. This line of thought led her to the Computing in the Arts major at the College. Equally passionate about the arts and music, Naik is working on her next release, which she is hesitant to call an album as she plans to incorporate both visual art and writing. Naik goes by the stage name of Diaspora, which loosely translates to a transient immigrant population. She explained, “my upbringing in the U.S. is because of all the migrations that the Indian population has made.” For Naik, the name connects her to her roots and serves as a reminder of her passion for social justice which she expresses through her music. You can find her at soundcloud.com/diaspora.
A self taught ukulele player, Adrian Austin also plays the piano, produces music and sings for the Charleston Vibes. While Austin has the most training in singing, they also taught themselves the ins and outs of producing music. Austin describes their sound as a “mix between electronic and psychedelic with hip hop influences.” Austin got their start performing in musicals and credits part of what got them to where they are today with the support they received from music educators. “They really changed my life, especially in high school,” Austin said. “There were times that the show choir was the only thing that really excited me about school.” Austin’s true passion islies in singing, whether that be at a piano or over beats they created. In the future they want to add “more choreographed pieces and set pieces” into their performances. While Austin frequently performs with the Charleston Vibes, they are also looking to become involved with a “new weekly show… a collection of transgender and gender non conforming performers” organized by Austin’s friends. Their advice to aspiring musicians is to “know that not everyone is going to understand what you’re doing…focus on the positive people who support your vision.” Listen to Austin on SoundCloud at soudcloud.com/adrianade.
Seth Barry-Hinton admits he had a bit of a clashing aesthetic in high school. It was a time when he found himself performing in musicals like “Oklahoma” and “Fiddler on the Roof” while also discovering his passion for punk rock. Currently Barry-Hinton, along with a friend from high school, is in thea band Erratticus Finch, which he describes as, “cleanly produced alternative rock with lyrics that are really politically oriented.” A Political Science major at the College, Barry-Hinton drawsfinds song inspiration from current events, both national and international, and from articles he reads. Erratticus Finch is working on releasing a second album in late March. “Native Son” is a song Barry-Hinton is particularly excited about. “The first verse is about immigrants coming from Latin America… the second verse is about the migrant crisis, specifically people from Syria trying to get across the Mediterranean.” In writing the song, he explained that he “wanted to draw a parallel between someone trekking through a desert environment and somebody trekking through an oceanic environment.” Barry-Hinton stressed that he is “not really about yelling at the audience for five minutes,” rather he is “about getting people to think about issues they might not think about every day.” To listen to Barry-Hinton, go to erratticusfinch.bandcamp.com.
Carson Keeter taught himself to play the bass in three days. His middle school had a Friday morning band that was in need of a bass player; Keeter jumped at the opportunity. “It was a Wednesday when the guy asked me to play and I was like it’s Wednesday? Yeah I can do it by Friday.” Nine years later, Keeter also plays the acoustic guitar and banjo. He has released a solo album and is also in a bluegrass duo, The Roadside Grocery Boys. “I like to tell stories with my music, comparable to folk because it’s just an acoustic guitar and me,” Keeter said. His favorite song to play is “Railroad Bill” from the late 1890s. “It’s about this guy who goes around and creates a lot of havoc and he’s just kind of a bum.” While Keeter writes his own music, he prefers to play songs that are not his own. They already have a “set melody and chord structure,” which he enjoys. Keeter’s latest album, “Songs for the Woods,” comes with a coloring book made by a friend and can be dowloaded at noisetrade.com/carsonkeeter.
“My music is me. Literally, it’s me.” Listen to any of Anfernee Robinson’s songs, which he describes as “retro classic” and this will become quite evident. Robinson wrote a poem when he was 13 that became his first song, though he did not start rapping in earnest until his senior year of high school. He began performing at local coffee shops where he had a “decent turn out, with people passing through.” But, he added, “I’m not Big Sean or anything.” After his senior year, Robinson was hooked on creating music as a way for him to express himself. “I’ve had anxiety for a long part of my life and dealt with the ups and downs that come with that…I felt like the best way to let people know what’s really going on in my life was through music.” Robinson studied abroad in France last fall, where he worked with producers and collaborated on an album with French artists. He is also currently working with producers in Russia; his next goal being to make an international album. “People are people…it’s like, you have great ideas, I have great ideas, we both love and have a passion for this music thing, so let’s get together and do it.” Robinson dropped his album “Anfernee” last year, which is available on “SoundCloud, Amazon, Spotify, Geezer, you name it.” soundcloud.com/anfernee_r/sets/anfernee.
*This article first appeared in the February 2016 issue of The Yard