Student wields acoustic sound with success

William Peebles

Low-key sounds and a mellow strumming of a guitar can be found from a young performer almost every Tuesday night at GSU’s Unplugged, as well as Sugar Magnolia and The Daily Grind on weekends.

Spencer Paul, freshman music major, will bring his alternative rock sound to stage Saturday at ArtsFest with his acoustic guitar in hand and 40 songs in his arsenal for Statesboro’s largest festival.

He is one of the youngest performers at ArtsFest and already recorded his first EP, “These Days,” in November. He will be performing this Saturday at ArtsFest, as well as The Daily Grind on April 12.

How long have you been playing?

I started at the beginning of seventh grade. There was a really cheap bass guitar that my mom decided to buy, and I took a couple of lessons but stopped playing. I didn’t really play anything for a few months, but then started I playing a lot of rock stuff, and my dad bought me my own acoustic.

When did you make the transition to being a singer-songwriter?

At first, I just wanted to play things that I liked listening to. Eventually, I started playing things that hadn’t been played before, just kind of messing around. I didn’t really think of that as writing, it was just me playing. Then I thought “Oh, I can write songs I guess.”

How has your songwriting changed over the years?

You draw influences from everything you hear. As my taste began to change, my friend showed me a Jason Mraz song, “Life is Wonderful.” That kind of music started to get mixed into my writing as I listened to it more. There are still bits of rock and stuff in my music, but it isn’t nearly as prominent.

What is your style of music now?

My style is depressing at times. I don’t have very many songs that are not in minor keys. I’d probably describe it as an alternative sound with lots of elements of folk and a few elements of rock.

What places around town have you played at?

As far as finding locations, I think of where my kind of music fits in and where it’s normal to have acoustic artists perform. I’ll visit those kind of places, search for coffee shops and small places like that. I’ll go in and see if I like the environment. When they’re not busy I’ll ask if an employee if they have people perform there.

How do decide what songs you’re going to play?

It can vary depending on the location. What night it is, who’s there, if they’re there alone, if they’re talking to someone and what kind of conversation they’re having are all factors.

Is it an active decision? Do you decide onstage?

Yes. I tried making set lists and sticking to them, but you have to be able to adapt to whatever is happening. I have my tablet up there attached to the mic stand with a list of all the songs that I play. While I’m playing, I think of what I want to do next and based on the environment I decide what to play. I usually do between two to three hour sets, so I usually have around 40 songs or so.

What does writing and playing music mean to you?

It’s a way of emoting. I’m not really good at talking to people, and that can be bad if you just let all the stuff that you deal with sit inside you. It’s a way of getting it out. I don’t write for other people. I do like using music to help people, but as for what I write, that’s much more selfish. I enjoy soothing people with music. I like helping people, but I don’t write for that. Writing is a therapeutic thing.