Thousands of Penn State students contribute to THON each year. There are so many ways to chip in, even on top of clubs, organizations, or committees. In short, there’s a reason its the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.
With tons of fundraising options, why not get a little creative? Junior Mike D’Avella chose music production over canning.
D’Avella, a broadcast journalism major, is your average music junkie with a passion for creating tunes and lyrics. It all started with his infatuation with Backstreet Boys when he was four years old.
“I remember watching concerts of theirs on MTV and Nickelodeon and I remember one concert at the Bryce Jordan Center. I wanted to be on that stage more than anything as a five-year-old.”
He found a love for drumming in middle school, where he learned the ropes from his neighbor in eighth grade. After a lot of practice, he auditioned for a spot as a drum set player in his school band. He competed with and beat out older students and he’s never looked back. He developed an affinity for the GarageBand app and a knack for recording and producing music.
The aspiring musician’s dreams came true when he had the opportunity to perform with his band The New Feel at the THON’s Got Talent Competition last year. This ignited a passion for THON intertwined with his music.
“When I got to perform with my band at THON, it was an experience like no other. The crowd was so welcoming and excited,” D’Avella said. “I was nervous to play in front of 20,000 plus people, but I don’t think we could have gotten luckier with the way the audience welcomed us to the stage.”
He’s newest project, EP Late Nights, has been in the works for months and was finally released last week. It’s live on iTunes and Spotify, and all the proceeds go right to Penn State’s Dance Marathon.
Late Nights is D’Avella’s first wave of music, and he is currently working hard on the second half of the full length project. The EP includes the song “That’s Ur Queue, How U Feel,” which was written with D’Avella’s friend Matt Fell, former THON Entertainment Captain. He recorded all the instruments by himself on a software called Logic Pro X and a focusrite 2i2 USB interface, using a Rode NT1A condenser microphone, a guitar, bass guitar, MIDI keyboard, and beat pad.
Looking to the future, D’Avella sees himself in the music industry in some capacity. Though he’s thought of being a sports play-by-play broadcaster, his true dream job would be a music producer.
“I would love to couple my love for sports and music by licensing songs for ESPN in the future. I want to make a difference to be honest. I want to make an impact.”
His dreams include making a notable impact, but D’Avella has already made a splash in the THON community and on campus through his time with Movin’ On and the Student Programming Association (SPA).
“I knew I wanted to benefit THON before I started recording any of these songs. I had seen people do it before and I always admired artists who put the community before themselves,” D’Avella said. “I am a big believer that things will work out for the best, so I’m not really concerned about the money right now. Families that have life threatening expenses to take care of — they need it much, much more than I do.”