KRISTEN SKILLMAN/THE HOYA
KRISTEN SKILLMAN/THE HOYA

Although he just began trying his hand at songwriting this summer, Sam Pence (SFS ’16) is an emerging artist with many years of musical experience. When Pence was 7 years old, his parents encouraged him and his five elder siblings to take piano lessons. Even though he wasn’t overly fond of the lessons, he stuck with the piano on his own. He began playing the violin in the sixth grade and the guitar in his freshman year of high school and he developed a passion for singing somewhere along the way. He continues to sing and play the piano and guitar today.

“I didn’t really start seriously writing music until college. I would say that my sound really evolved because of college,” Pence said.

His first collection of original songs, entitled “Up and In,” was released during the summer of 2013 onBandcamp, an online music store and artist promotion site. The songs in this collection were inspired by his relationships, whether intimate, platonic or familial, and by general life experiences.

“Random subtle details in life that you come across and the dynamics you have between different people are all kind of amalgamated into some idea that turns into a song,” Pence said.

He describes his sound as “acoustic minimalist,” which he says is inspired by the styles of EdSheeran, John Mayer and the early years of Coldplay. If he had the hypothetical opportunity to collaborate with any three artists, he would choose Bob Dylan, William Fitzsimmons and Chris Martin of Coldplay, whom Pence calls his first real musical inspiration. Experimenting with different styles of singing, songwriting and recording, Pence urges those who might not yet love his music to bear with him.

“I have a lot to share with the world but maybe my sound isn’t so developed yet, so I’m working on it,” Pence said.

Having just begun songwriting himself, Pence has some good advice for those who hope to write their own music someday: “Just be patient. Don’t try to rush into things that you think are going to please other people, just kind of go with your gut. If you’re struggling with songwriting or writer’s block, always revert to patience.”

His most recent original song is a holiday song entitled “Happy Days.”

“It’s kind of cliche, and I was ok with that. I wanted to see what kinds of sounds I was capable of creating. It’s a lot different from my previous songwriting,” Pence said. He has yet to perform his original music on campus but can be seen performing covers at Uncommon Grounds or singing in co-ed a cappella group, Georgetown Superfood. Pence think his experience in Superfood has improved his technical vocal abilities and he hopes to try his hand at arranging for the group in an effort to improve his composition skills.

Pence records his songs using a USB microphone that hooks into his computer, and he edits the tracks himself in Garage Band. He has recently been experimenting with different recording styles and techniques and shares his music on SoundCloud, Bandcamp and his Facebook artist page.

He currently classifies his musical interest as more of a hobby than a career path. “It’s such a volatile pursuit, and it does take a lot of luck and I think I still have a long way to go. But I’m definitely going to stick with it and just see where it takes me,” Pence said . Though he doesn’t plan to pursue music seriously, the Hilltop can still expect to see more Pence originals, covers and live performances in the near future.

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