Spencer McCreary, 20

How did you get interested in music? Music for me started when I was 3. I played violin. I took private lessons and started in the Suzuki program, which is all that little "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" stuff. Then, you work your way up through the books and learn songs as you go.

Who are your influences? As you're being trained in violin or classical music, you're forced to listen to these composers like Mozart or Beethoven. You grow accustomed to that style of music. In my household ... we always listened to classic rock - bands like The Beatles, Yes (and the) Rolling Stones. My dad had "Breakfast with The Beatles" when I was younger. When I was a little kid, I would always go to school singing "Hey Jude." I think all those styles of music complement each other because we have classical writing in ... older rock. I could understand the structure of music better than I could understand techno or whatever (groups) play nowadays.

When did you start to think that you wanted to be a performer? I don't even know if I do yet. This music stuff - starting to write music - has almost been a hobby. Four or five years ago, I started writing little things on guitar and violin and it slowly grew into a curiosity. I'm still studying biology and (am in) the pre-med program at Wheaton College and I'm playing basketball there. Music is definitely summer work. I try and play music around as much as I can and write as much music as I can in the summer. I'm looking forward to going back to Chicago and playing music with the group of guys that is together out there in the fall and the spring time.

How did you meet other musicians at school? I was playing music in my hallway in my dorm. A friend of mine who I knew came up and started playing guitar with me, and he later became our electric guitarist. He's like a piano wizard in the conservatory. All of the other guys lived on our floor. There's a saxophone player, a bass player and a trumpet player who all sit first chair in their respective instruments in the symphony and the conservatory.

Have you performed at all in Chicago? Right now, playing live music is just (something I do by) myself. Last summer, I spent pretty much the entire summer playing all these backing tracks to cover tunes. I have drums and horns and stuff that I played and recorded on the computer. When I go out and play live, I just play piano, violin, guitar, electric guitar and sing along with the tracks that I recorded. I play it all out here in York, but I'd like to try to get (into) a couple clubs in Chicago (near Wheaton). It's a different experience with a live band.

Are you writing music? I'm producing ... an EP (that should be out) this September. I want to have it done and out to record labels and on iTunes. I wrote six songs this summer and (the band) had three that we kind of already perfected before we left. I've been playing those around bars and clubs out here in York. I'm excited to ||ýPage=003 Column=002 OK,0004.06þ||kind of get into a ... studio at Wheaton and see what happens.

Describe your sound and style: I always focus on the music. I make it very intricate. I want it to be hard for me when I play and sing it to make it a challenge to me and to the people who are listening. Music is what we feel. When you go to a rock concert ... you're going to hear the music; you're not really going to see people. Music pulls emotions out of people. I start writing lyrics ... that make them think about what they're feeling. That comes from my classical training. Those violin concertos and amazing orchestral works have no lyrics and people went to listen to them and kind of created stories on their own.

Is it hard to juggle all of your activities? It's a lot, between school and basketball. Basketball is at the forefront ... and then school and then music. I find time to go off to just little stairwells and little halls. (They have) these awesome acoustics ... and nobody ever goes there. That's where I do all these ... writings. I'll come up with a riff coming back from class, and my pace picks up. I jog back to my apartment ... and I just start playing. That's how the songs start to generate.

FlipSide staff

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