University of New York at Geneseo

University of New York Student Has Big Hopes in the Big City

In an industry with an abundance of mainstream talent, Allison Altschiller is paving her own way through music.

Allison Altschiller is a communications major in journalism and media at the University of New York at Geneseo and she is making big moves in the Big Apple.

Raised with music and creativity, the Pelham, New York native has a distinct sound; she keeps her music personable and is paving her own path in what is known to be a highly competitive industry.

As she approaches graduation this month, Allison shows no signs of slowing down. Her songs have gained popularity on various music streaming sites, such as Spotify, and she has performed live on different radio stations across the country — serenading many with her song “A Love Song.”

Allison’s musical talents and connections point towards a promising career, and she is sure to keep those in mind who have helped her during her journey to success. Her passion and determination to make her voice heard separate her from other aspiring college musicians.

Sam Kasierski: How did you get into songwriting/making your own music? Is there a specific moment or period in your life that pushed you to pursue this passion? 

Allison Altschiller: Honestly, I’ve always been writing and creating music. My dad has a studio and I remember freestyle rapping to beat tracks when I was four. When I turned eight, I was singing a few songs at a holiday party and an agent heard me and asked me if I would be interested in doing commercials and voice-over work.

That’s how I joined SAG-AFTRA and started singing on various commercials, like the “Hess Truck” commercial, GE spots and other radio tags. So I’ve spent my whole life creating music in some capacity.

When I was 18, I went to the Bonnaroo Music Festival with my dad in Manchester, TN, and I saw a kid about my age playing on a side stage.

Up until that point, I kind of assumed that you had to be signed to a major label to get anywhere in the industry. As soon as I got home from that festival, I buckled down and started writing and I never stopped.

SK: Is there any artist, in particular, that has inspired your style of music? What do you like most about this artist, maybe even dislike or have tried to mimic?

AA: I was raised on all kinds of music. My parents love The Beatles, Grateful Dead, John Mayer, Joni Mitchell and Dave Matthews Band, and I have frequent memories dancing and singing along with all of these artists growing up.

Later, I grew to love singer-songwriters like Ed Sheeran, Rachael Yamagata, Matt Corby and Taylor Swift, and powerful bands like Imagine Dragons and Mumford & Sons.

My main philosophy about creating music is to create something that has never been said or heard before. No one will want to listen to my stuff if it sounds like someone else, and frankly, I wouldn’t either. As an artist, my goal is to unapologetically be myself and I hope this comes through in my music.

However, the variation of music I was provided with growing up, mixed with my later interests, definitely had a subconscious effect on the music I create now. I love “dark” sounding drums. On my EP, there’s a track titled, “Everything You Wanted” and keeping a dark, empowering feel was a huge goal of mine for that one.

SK: Has singing/songwriting been something you’ve been able to do with fellow classmates, or has it been something you’ve largely done on your own? 

 AA: I have been able to write with other people as well as on my own. The EP I am releasing is entirely self-written. When I was 19, I was in Nashville for the summer and experienced co-writing for the first time.

I met and worked with so many talented artists, and this helped me narrow down my own writing style as well as learn what works and doesn’t work in a session.

My experience in Nashville gave me the confidence to start asking my peers in Geneseo to jam with me. I also worked for HeadCount this past summer, which is a nonprofit organization that works with musicians to promote participation in democracy.

I met a bunch of great people who appreciate music the way I do, and I had a great time sharing music with them in NYC and even playing at some festivals.

SK: What’s your plan for post-graduation? Do you plan on pursuing a career in music, or is there something else that you’re passionate about that you want to pursue?

AA: I am planning on pursuing music fully for as long as I can. My EP is set to be released at the end of May and I am planning on touring after it is released.

I am currently based in New York City, and I am a member of the New York Songwriter Sessions, so I play frequent shows at the Bitter End. For more information about my upcoming gigs, you can visit [my site] here.

SK: Have you had any opportunities to meet with others who have had success in music, and if so, did you take any words of wisdom from that encounter(s) that you think has helped you develop as a musician? 

AA: On the EP, I’ve been working with some incredible musicians in New York. Doug Derryberry plays the majority of the instruments on the EP, John Hadfield is on percussion/drums and John McFaul on bass.

It’s been a super collaborative experience. Doug Derryberry has become a mentor for me throughout the process and his experience and talent has been incredibly inspiring.

Also, I had the opportunity to meet with Keith D’Arcy at SONGS Publishing, and he literally gave me a run-down of the music industry. He was very straightforward with me about the challenges but also the rewards of working in the industry and this conversation inspired me to work even harder.

SK: If you’re not writing/making music, what’re you doing? Do these other passions influence your music in any way?

AA: Throughout college, I have been a part of musical theater club, a passion I’ve had since I was young. I am also a part of Exit 8, an a cappella group at Geneseo. Most of my extracurricular activities in college tend to involve music.

Other than music, I love traveling. I studied abroad over the fall of 2017, and it was easily the most informative experience of my life (of course, I also took the opportunity to play a few times over in Europe).

SK: Has there been anyone close to you, be it a family member, friend, associate etc., that has been a guide for you on your musical journey, and if so, what kind of impact have they had on you?  

AA: My dad has been my mentor and my role model throughout my life and journey as a musician. My dad, Jon Altschiller, is an audio engineer and founded Chiller Sound, a recording studio in New York City. He has worked with artists like Bruce Springsteen, Phish, Dave Matthews and more.

This in itself has inspired me because it shows me firsthand that with the right amount of talent, hard work, drive and luck, this could actually become a reality.

However, I am most inspired by his humility. I have never heard my dad speak negatively about a client, and he frequently tells me that “loving everyone” will serve me worlds better than hate.

Everyone has something to offer this world, and thousands of people want to do exactly what I do. I am so fortunate to have him as my role model because he pushes [me] to be a better musician and a better person every day.

Sam Kasierski, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Sam Kasierski

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hil

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