ROCK THE QUAD
by Gabriella DePinho, News Editor
After hearing Tara Connor perform at a few coffee houses and Quadchella and hearing rumors about original music, I knew I had to find out more. After reaching out to her, Connor, a senior philosophy major and religious studies and music double minor, agreed to let me interview her for this column. Sitting down with her last semester, we talked all things music and everything coming up for spring semester – her final semester – here at Manhattan College.
The Quadrangle: How did you first get into music?
Tara Connor: Music has always been a thing. My sisters and I grew up surrounded by music. We used to dance in the living room to the Tarzan soundtrack – it’s just been everything – and we’d sing in the car and it was everything. When I got to sixth grade, I used to do talent shows, which were awful but they were fun, and I just kept doing it from then on.
TQ: When did you first start writing your own music?
TC: High school. For my fifteenth or sixteenth birthday I asked for a ukulele and my parents were like, “That’s weird.” I picked it up right away and I just started playing. A little while after I learned how to play the ukulele, I started writing my own music.
TQ: Can you play other instruments besides the ukulele?
TC: I don’t know if singing counts as an instrument, but I sing. I used to take piano lessons but I gave up on it because reading music is really hard. I wish I could say that I play the piano or something but it’s really just the ukulele. I took a guitar class here [at Manhattan College] so I do know how to play the guitar, but not as well. I’m most comfortable on the ukulele but I do know a few chords on other stuff.
TQ: When did you first start sharing your own music in public spaces?
TC: I was in a band in high school, an all-girl band. There was five of us. We used to perform at Starbucks and fairs in our town and anything, anywhere. We just started with covers and then we started writing music. We all did it separately so my friend would write a guitar part and then we would build off of that. The last time that we performed together – because we’re not still together anymore – our last performance together, we performed two original songs that we wrote, which was cool
TQ: What was your band’s name?
TC: It was PSA and the whole big thing about it was that no one knew what it stood for. Everyone was like “what does it mean?” and we would just pick random words that started with the letters. I think it actually stood for “Probably Some Acronym” just to be really annoying about it, so that was exciting.
TQ: What is your favorite lyric or song you’ve ever written?
TC: That’s a good question. I don’t know if I have any lyrics that I, per se, “hang” over because most of the time when I write a song, it’s about an experience so the experience itself is what I linger over, more than the song itself. I don’t know. I don’t think I have any lyrics that particularly come out at me.
TQ: Why is music important to you?
TC: Music is definitely a way that I de-stress and get over anxiety but also, at the same time, it causes me immense stress to perform. So writing music and playing in the leisure of my own room has been a really good stress relief thing. I feel like even if I’m spending hours and hours writing a line of music, I’m still doing something and I feel like I’ve accomplished something in my day, if I feel like I’m not doing a lot.
TQ: When did you start performing more on your own? How’d you get into it?
TC: Definitely in college, that was the first time I was doing stuff on my own. It was definitely because of coffeehouse. I would sing with my sister and we would do a bunch of songs together and then as time went by, we would do one song together and then I would do one song by myself. It just branched off of that. My RA my freshman year was in charge of Coffeehouse and he was like, “You have to do it, it’ll be so much fun!” And he was very supportive throughout the whole thing. He was like, “Please do a song” and all of that. It was very popular my freshman year, more so than it is now, so it was like a normal, every other week thing in Jasper [Hall] and that’s just when I would do stuff.
TQ: So you still go to Coffeehouse?
TC: Yes, I still go. I actually played one of my originals there because I was supposed to play one of my originals at Quadchella, but I chickened out because I got so nervous. I had been sick so my voice wasn’t doing well and it just wasn’t the quality that I wanted to be displaying out there for the first time so the first time I played an original was at Coffeehouse.
TQ: So moving forward after graduation, you’re not going to have Manhattan College’s Coffeehouse, but are you still going to look for opportunities to share your music?
TC: I don’t know. I mean, I’m writing an EP right now and it should be done by January hopefully. I’ve been working on it for quite a while with Andy [Bauer] so I’m hoping that can continue on after college. I don’t think I’ll ever stop writing music or anything like that but maybe I would sing at a coffee shop. I don’t know I haven’t really thought about live performance after college because it is so accessible here and it’s not something I have to worry about, so I haven’t worried about it yet.
TQ: So this EP of yours … are you going to put it online or is it going to be something you share with the people close to you?
TC: I’m going to put it out there. I’m hoping to put it on iTunes, Spotify, all of the things and places that you can do listening to music so people can access it. It’s exciting but also terrifying.
TQ: Have you ever collaborated musically with anyone on this campus?
TC: I’ve never written music with another person. My sister and I always did covers but never wrote anything. In the spring, I’m taking a class with Andy, it’s Album Composition and I’ll be writing an album with other students which is really exciting. I mean I did write songs with my band in high school but very limited amounts and most of it I did on my own and then I’d bring it back to them. This class is really going to test me with that and I’m really excited for it.
TQ: That’s such a cool class.
TC: Yeah, Andy has done The Beatles class for the last few years and now they’re not offering independent studies anymore, I think. I, as a music minor, need a 400 level course to graduate so I went and was like “you have to give me a 400 level” because they didn’t have any at the time. Album Composition was what Andy wanted as the independent study in the first place, so they just turned it into a class. So we’re going to write an album and perform it the same way they do with the Beatles class, so that’ll be really exciting.
Watch her performance on our YouTube channel by scanning the QR code.