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Spring Sing 2022: Izzy Escobar seeks to bring spirit of youth, hope to students in ‘Jenny’

Sitting atop a counter, fourth-year theater student Izzy Escobar plays the guitar. Having played instruments since she was four, Escobar will bring both instrumentals and vocals to the Spring Sing as she performs her original song, “Jenny.” (Photo by August Suchecki/Daily Bruin. Photo illustration by Ashley Shue-Lih Ko/Daily Bruin staff)

By Annie Liu

May 17, 2022 3:34 p.m.

Spring has sprung into full bloom for Izzy Escobar.

The fourth-year theater student will be bringing her song “Jenny” to the stage as one of the performers at this year’s Spring Sing. Escobar said becoming a professional musician has been a goal of hers since childhood, and she wrote the song as a message to a younger version of herself. She drew heavily from her own experiences and struggles believing in her ability to persevere and succeed as an artist in the competitive music industry, she said.

“It’s about embracing the younger version of ourselves that still lives within us, the dreams that we had when we were younger,” Escobar said. “I found that the song helped me to keep pushing forward with my dreams because that younger version of Izzy was still in me.”

Escobar grew up playing violin, starting when she was 4 years old. She said the experience allowed her to gain an understanding of melodic cadences, which helped her to learn how to write music. As she grew older, Escobar said she often sat in her basement and sang over YouTube beats that she played out loud, which let her further explore writing songs. Now, she said she consistently writes about six songs a day, treating songwriting as a method of journaling and expressing her emotions.

[Related: UCLA student draws inspiration from musical background, youth to release new single]

In addition to her own songwriting interests, Escobar’s mentor, Cletus Bradley, said her family has also influenced her musical trajectory. Her father was a former DJ and raised Escobar around various genres of music, such as jazz, classical and soul, which have influenced her current songwriting and music, Bradley said.

Although “Jenny” is inspired by Escobar’s own experience finding the motivation to pursue music professionally, it is also more broadly a message about endurance, she said. By talking to her friends in different fields, such as those in STEM, she said she learned that a common struggle is being able to persevere. Through her song, she said she wants those who listen to know that they can go after their goals and that their younger version of themselves is rooting for them.

“I remember sitting down by my piano and just almost feeling so down,” Escobar said. “But then seeing that younger Izzy, sitting on the floor in front of me being like, ‘You can do this, you wanted to do this.’ So I wrote that song for her.”

Escobar plays the violin as she sits near a window. Escobar said her original song "Jenny" serves as a message to her past self, centering on her musical aspirations at a young age. (August Suchecki/Daily Bruin)
Escobar plays the violin as she sits near a window. Escobar said her original song "Jenny" serves as a message to her past self, centering on her musical aspirations at a young age. (August Suchecki/Daily Bruin)

The positive message in “Jenny” is consistent with the rest of her discography, Escobar’s producer, Chris Jackson, said. In the first year of working with Escobar, he said the pair focused on exploring what type of artist she wanted to come across as and forming a foundation on which her artistry could be built. Ultimately, they decided to gear Escobar’s music toward the young generation, with a focus on uplifting sentiments and tapping into spirituality to discover one’s identity, Jackson said.

“The biggest thing that we’ve tried to focus on in the music is inspiring the youth to reach your (their) full potential,” Jackson said. “Don’t put negative energy out there. Just do good things. Don’t give up on your dream.”

As a solo performer at this year’s Spring Sing, Escobar said she plans to keep her performance straightforward in order to draw the audience’s attention. With a simple set comprising a spotlight and her at the piano, Escobar said she wants the lyrics and music to speak for themselves rather than constructing an elaborate set that detracts from her song’s message.

“Just for a few minutes, people can tune out of whatever is going on in their life, and hopefully these lyrics can speak to them and inspire them,” Escobar said.

[Related: Student band Even Kevin combines indie jams, surf rock in debut album]

For Escobar, the opportunity to perform at Spring Sing has been one she has been working toward for several years. When she was rejected from the competition during her first year at UCLA, she said the initial dejection that she felt turned into a pivotal moment in her college career, as it propelled her to push herself harder as a musician.

By bringing “Jenny” onstage this year, Escobar said she hopes she can give people a sense of relatability, rawness and the feeling they are not alone in the struggles they face. While the ambitions that Escobar, her friends and audience members are pursuing may be different, Escobar said she hopes her music can encourage people to chase their dreams with youthful hope.

“If I’m able to inspire one person who’s there that night, that’s the purpose,” Escobar said.

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Annie Liu
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