Junior Kacie Swierk will soon complete one part of a big musical project that began as an undiscovered passion.
Swierk plans to release her single, “Bonfire Blues,” this Saturday and will mark the release with a celebration starting at 8 p.m. at Jefferson Street Music Studio. The track comes from her upcoming album, which will debut June 10.
The creation of this album spanned two semesters and will be one of the culminating projects of her commercial music major, designed through the Individualized Major Program at IU. Swierk said she acts as musician, songwriter and producer for this project.
The 13 accompanying musicians and three sound technicians working with Swierk on the project met initially to discuss the vision for the album during the first semester and the second was spent in studio putting the pieces of the her vision together, she said.
“The coolest thing I’ve found from it is that I gave them the lead sheets, I gave them the chords, but we didn’t rehearse before we went into the studio,” Swierk said. “We spent 20 minutes before each song talking about the arrangement, talking about what I wanted from them, and it was pretty improvisational.”
Swierk said the different styles of music and the variety of instrumentation, including harp, saxophone and drums, lent a different flavor to her folk songs. Swierk offers her vocals to each original track and plays either guitar or piano, depending upon the piece.
Acting in a variety of roles on this project has given Swierk the opportunity to see her musical plan through in a fuller way, she said. Though the project is in the stage of fine-tuning and finishing, it does not feel complete.
“We have a bunch to do, for me it feels like not even close to the end in a good way,” Swierk said. “I love wearing a bunch of different hats because I have such a vision for how I want all the songs in the album. This is the first time I’ve written any songs and it came together really amazingly.”
Swierk said designing a major through the program has been an unanticipated challenge, contrary to what people may believe.
“It’s a very underestimated major opportunity,” Swierk said. “A lot of people think it’s something you go into if you just want to blow off school and take really fun classes and not study anything, but I found it to be quite the opposite. I came to school as a business major then looked a bit into the jazz piano curriculum after knowing I was going to switch but eventually made it to IMP.”
Having a lot of interests and not knowing which direction to take was the greatest obstacle that IMP helped her surpass, Swierk said. The Individualized Major Program has pushed her to pursue opportunity and hone the specific skills she knew she wanted to use in her future career.
“Personally, my experience at IU has been able to really be so foundational and so helpful, at least so far, in helping me figure out what I want to do and taking classes that support that,” Swierk said.
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