For most, being forced to sing in front of their middle school class would be cruel and unusual punishment, but for one 2013 Spring Sing contestant, having to learn and sing “Mi Burrito Sabanero” in Spanish class marked a turning point in his life: it was the moment he learned that he could sing.
Andrew Marian, a fourth-year psychology student, is one of this year’s performers in the soloist category. Encouraged by his friends and family, he just months ago began performing for others. The majority of his performing experience consists of living room shows for his friends and impromptu sidewalk shows on Gayley.
It was through these shows that he was able to gain confidence and establish his sound. Marian lists The Black Keys, Iron and Wine, Modest Mouse, Kings of Convenience and John Mayer as his inspirations.
“I have a very blues background, and I love that aspect of The Black Keys. I like singing over quick guitar melodies. I began by playing electric guitar, but I’ll be doing an acoustic song for Spring Sing which isn’t really as reflexive of my roots, but it’s something I do feel comfortable with.”
Marian’s decision to transition from electric to acoustic was not one based on choosing his sound, but one of necessity.
“I switched to acoustic when I wanted to start recording my own songs. My recording equipment at this point is pretty much a basic computer recording program and the mic from the video game ‘Rock Band,’ so with an acoustic guitar I can still hear me sing,” Marian said.
Pursuing singing is a recent phenomenon in Marian’s life. However, his friends say “he’s been in love with his guitar forever.”
“I’ve always played the guitar, but I only really discovered I could sing four or five years ago,” Marian said. “And I only really originally started writing my own songs to get a girl.”
While it may have begun as a strategic play for the hearts of women everywhere, Marian believes that the hobby grew into something much more – it’s become therapeutic.
“It’s kind of like a personal diary thing; it’s something to record emotions that I feel I have to express. I really like songs that put you in a mood and then tell you a story, stuff with emotion context, so it’s something I try to do in my music,” Marian said.
Marian’s somewhat sudden decision to perform publicly was spurred by both close friends and complete strangers.
“A lot of my friends graduated last year, so I haven’t had that many people to hang out with,” Marian said. “So a way I’ve connected (with people) is by sitting out on Gayley and playing music. I’ve received a lot of encouragement from the people that hear me play. So I figured if they think I should be doing this, maybe I’d give it a try.”
But it hasn’t been all strangers that have influenced his decision. A select few important people in his life have also motivated him to try his hand at performing.
“There’s a few of my close friends whose music taste I respect, and they’ve said that they feel inspired by my music,” Marian said. “That really means a lot to me, and I feel like if they feel inspired by my music then maybe it could have that effect on other people.”
Spring Sing staff also recognized his talent after first seeing him perform. “When he auditioned, we knew we had to have him for Spring Sing,” said Jen Hioki, a fourth-year international development studies student and talent director for Spring Sing 2013. “He has this aura about him, and his song was light and happy.”
More than 100 members of the Student Alumni Association were also enthralled by him after he performed during one of their meetings.
“For never really having played publicly before, he seemed comfortable on stage. We all really enjoyed him,” Hioki said.
“I felt like he definitely had a Jack Johnson or Ben Harper air to him,” said Matt Bojanic, a fourth-year communications student and member of the Student Alumni Association. “Not so much just in his sound, but also his presence when performing.”
Marian describes himself as a bit solitary by nature, but says he is growing more and more comfortable performing for others.
“At this point writing and singing has become something of a stress release for me, a way of working things out. It’s very cathartic.”