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Q&A with Glenna Jane Galarion ’21, opening act for fall 2020 Lawnparties

Glenna Jane Galarion for The Daily Princetonian
Glenna Jane Galarion for The Daily Princetonian

Glenna Jane Galarion ’21 is the opening act for Jason Derulo, the headliner chosen for virtual Fall 2020 Lawnparties. Born in Tokyo, Glenna Jane considers Las Vegas her hometown, but she is currently living in Ocean City, N.J. She is an anthropology concentrator with certificates in theater and music theater. Glenna Jane will be accompanied by Louis Larsen ’24 on drums, Ewan Curtis ’23 on bass, Christien Ayers ’23 on guitar, and Ed Horan ’22 on keys. The Daily Princetonian sat down with Glenna Jane to discuss the event and her music. The following transcript has been lightly edited for clarity and concision.

The Daily Princetonian: When and how did you first get into music and performance?

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Glenna Jane: I grew up in a very musical family. My dad was a singer at a club, and my mom was a dancer. So music was pretty innate. My mom always tells me that, before I even could talk, I would be humming. I distinctly remember being five or six years old and going to family parties. My mom would ask me to sing karaoke for all of our family members, and I guess that was my first exposure to singing and training my voice.

It wasn’t until middle and high school that I started training my voice in other settings. I ended up going to a performing arts high school and majoring in choral and vocal performance.

DP: Were there any hardships you faced with your music early on? That you continue to face?

GJ: Well, it takes years to develop a healthy technique and even more to retain and maintain that technique. And, as an artist, in general there is so much outside criticism on top of internal criticism. It is really hard to turn off that doubt: whether you are good enough. For some reason, I also feel like there are these overwhelming expectations from people for me to be producing really good music, which is not true. I don’t think anyone is really expecting that much. My fear is also being too personal in my music and people not being able to relate.

DP: Is there anyone who supported you through these challenges?

GJ: I have a lot of people who have supported me through these challenges. I have a lot of other musician friends, and my mom is one of my biggest supporters. She’s honest, too — she’ll tell me when something isn’t mixed correctly or if it’s a little harsh on the ears. Also my best friend, George Rettaliata ’21
, who I met through a cappella. He is the biggest reason why I started producing an album. He was the person I sent my first demos to, and he is a big pillar of support for my artistry.

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DP: How have you been involved with performance at Princeton?

GJ: I came into Princeton knowing that I wanted to develop as an artist and continue learning and growing as a musician. I was involved in a lot of musical theatre and theatre. I still am: I am getting a theater and music theater certificate. I’ve [also] been involved with Princeton University Players and Triangle Club. In terms of music, I have done a lot of performances within rock band — The Princeton University Rock Ensemble, or PURE — and with a cappella. I’m in a group called Shere Khan. Princeton has been really great because there have been so many avenues for performance.

DP: What is one your favorite projects you have worked on here at Princeton? What are some performances or pieces that you are particularly proud of?

GJ: I grew up always wanting to be the front woman of a rock band, and I have really loved performing with PURE. I will never forget my first concert with the band. It’s just fun getting loose on stage and entertaining people. That’s my favorite thing. Sometimes I don’t think I am the most technically talented, but when I’m on stage and I can interact with an audience, that’s where I am most comfortable.

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DP: How were you chosen to open for Derulo?

GJ: Sophie Torres ’21 with USG reached out to me a week ago and asked me about performing as the opener for Derulo. She told me that she had seen a bunch of videos on YouTube of me performing with PURE with my band. She said she liked my work.

DP: How do you feel about opening for Derulo?

GJ: I feel so scared, I’ve been dwelling on this performance. I realize now that I never feel this way when I'm on stage. Wherever I’m on stage, the performance is about interacting with the audience and getting them pulled in. I think there's also added stress because Jason Derulo is a really established performer and personality. So there’s that internal expectation for me to rise to the occasion.

DP: What are your thoughts on Derulo in general? Your thoughts on him being chosen for Lawnparties?

GJ: I'll be completely honest, I don't really listen to his music because I don’t really listen to popular radio anymore. I think, for Lawnparties, whoever is the headliner should be chosen by a vote amongst the student body. Maybe I am just not as excited about this Lawnparties. I think it is a travesty, it is just so wrong, that they would spend $80,000 on a singular artist for essentially a Zoom performance, something that you can find on YouTube. I don’t agree with $80,000 being funneled into a single night. We are living in a pandemic. There are so many other things that $80,000 could be used for. Princeton literally cannot pay some of its employees right now who are furloughed.

Reporter’s note: While PURE performers are usually paid for performances, Glenna Jane and the band will not be paid for their Lawnparties performance.

DP: What have you had to do to prepare for this virtual performance?

GJ: I have had to record it three different ways, not only with vocal tracks, but also with video. I recorded it with a dynamic mic and then with a condenser mic. It was also really short notice — I had to rally up a band within a few days, get them to record all of their things very quickly. They were really incredible; I want to give them the biggest shout-out.

DP: Other than the upcoming Lawnparties performance, how have you been staying engaged with your music during a virtual semester?

GJ: I have been diving into my own music. I will be releasing a single in about a week, and you can stay updated about the single and my music through my instagram (@glennajanegalarion). PURE is still up and running, we are going to be performing and recording things, and will hopefully do a YouTube premiere. In general, I sing and play music as much as I can. Even if it's not really for anything. I try to do that just because music is really my only source of relief and happiness.

DP: How has your last year at Princeton been in general?

GJ: I’ve been busy, busy, busy. I just finished a job with the Lewis Center for the Arts as an anti-racist teaching leader where I lead workshops. I'm also working as a student marketeer for Red Bull. And I'm interning for the music programming operations team within Sirius XM and Pandora. That's been really cool because something that I'm really interested in entering past undergrad is music business. The very lofty dream is to be a performer, to tour and write my own music and make a living out of music.The thing right next to that is entering the music industry on the business side. The main broader goal of me entering the music industry is to try to increase the representation of marginalized voices. Growing up, I didn’t see a lot of people who looked like me on stage. That’s why I try to relish the vast amount of performance opportunities that I've had at Princeton. I don't know if, outside of college, I would have the same opportunities, just by virtue of how I look.

DP: How is thesis life?

GJ: Thesis life is hard. I am an anthropology major, and my thesis is actually also related to music. I am looking to understand how Asian American rappers perform and construct their identity within spaces of hip hop.

DP: Anything else you would like to add?

GJ: With the state of the nation, I feel really grateful that I'm healthy, that my family's healthy, [and] that the people I'm living with are healthy.

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