Making music

Lifelong passions for music and writing lead sophomore Greta Stroebel to record her own album

By on February 13, 2018

Morgan Tencza | The Quinnipiac Chronicle
“Quietly she climbs down from her head, pours herself some tea and smiles,” sophomore Greta Stroebel croons, in the opening verses of her original song, “Mister Black.”

Upon first meeting her to discuss her budding music career, Stroebel brought that same smile that she sings about with her, but totes coffee rather than tea. “Mister Black” kicks off her 2015 album “Society Road,” although Stroebel’s interest in music and penning her own songs began years earlier.

“I first got a guitar when I was 12, at the time all of the artists I listened to played guitar and wrote their own songs, and I remember thinking ‘Okay, I want to do that too,’” Stroebel recalls the early phases of what eventually developed into a passion for songwriting.

She wrote her first song shortly after receiving the guitar, calling it “Scarlet.”

“My dad still says it’s really good, I have to say though, I think it’s pretty bad.” Stroebel said.

After she got her first guitar, Stroebel partook in about a year of formal lessons, but in the following years became largely self-taught.

“I really only learned the basics, since then I try to push myself and experiment,” Stroebel explained. “Making up your own picking patterns has a lot more freedom, you’re not scared of not sounding just like the artist you’re trying to cover.”

Her enthusiasm for music only grew in the coming years, and throughout high school Stroebel gave performances of both covers and original songs in a wide variety of venues in and around her hometown of Salem, Conn.

At one particular performance during the summer of 2014, Stroebel was approached by members of a singer-songwriter group based in Rhode Island. The small coalition of artists, called “Rising,” encouraged Stroebel to participate with them in their book-club-style exercises, where each member would be given a prompt and upon their next meeting, share their original songs inspired by the prompt.

Stroebel accepted their invitation, participating in the group regularly throughout her junior and senior years of high school. Stroebel also credits “Rising” with encouraging her to stick with music and make her songwriting passion a priority, regardless of how difficult it felt at times.

As the years wore on, Stroebel’s confidence in her songwriting ability grew exponentially, and she began to leave the prompts behind entirely in favor of personal inspiration.

Whenever she gives performances now, she prefers to showcase her own creations, rather than covers.

“In terms of performing, I generally like performing my own songs.” Stroebel said. “There’s less pressure in the audience not knowing what a song is supposed to sound like”

Just two years after first picking up the guitar, Stroebel had created enough original content to produce her own album. At the age of 14 she recorded “Society Road,” which was later released on both iTunes and Spotify in 2015. The recording process was a quirky one, with all six folk-inspired tracks being taped in a bathroom which had been revamped into a studio in Stroebel’s hometown.

“Recording in the bathroom was kind of a cool experience,” Stroebel said “I’m actually working on another album right now though, and I definitely don’t plan on recording there again.” Stroebel went on to say with a laugh.

Each of the tunes featured on “Society Road” are inspired by personal experiences but the overall folk tone of the album, and Stroebel’s musical style in general, is deeply influenced by the sounds of the artists who make up the soundtrack of her childhood.

Stroebel explained the smooth, lyrically focused theme of her album by sharing which artists and what kind of music inspired her.

“I always say my favorite band is Simon and Garfunkel and that folk music is where my heart is,” she said. “I say this just because it’s what I grew up listening to with my dad. Also, it’s what I first learned how to play because it’s so easy, most folk songs are only three chords so if you hear a song you want to play, you probably can.”

Stroebel went on the clarify that she’s very much a music fanatic in general, it isn’t just the folk genre that has her heart.

“I like plenty of modern artists too, and I like heavy metal and everything, I could just never consider them to be my favorite because I could never do them any justice.” she said.

It has been a bit of challenge to keep her musical interests center-stage since arriving at Quinnipiac. As an English major on track to receive her masters in education upon graduation in 2020, Stroebel has had to find a way to strike a balance between her assignments and her passions. Since freshman year, Stroebel has been able to attend and perform at a handful of open mic nights co-hosted by student media groups Montage and WQAQ 98.1 and intends to partake in as many as she can going forward.

“She was so professional and was so talented and creative,” Montage managing editor Rosie Persiani said of Stroebel. “Her lyrics are very honest and enjoyable to listen to. She brought something amazing to the first open mic of this semester.”

The performer mirrors this admiration that Montage members have for her.

“I really love performing at open mics and would like to become more involved with Montage in the future,” Storebel said. “I’m still working on it.”

In the meantime, much of Stroebel’s efforts are going towards figuring out how she can find that perfect balance between a career based on her major and music once she leaves Quinnipiac.

“My dad is always encouraging me.” Storebel said. “He says, ‘You’re a great writer, but you’re a songwriter, that’s what you should do. I don’t know if I really feel that way, I love all types of writing.”

It was this love of writing that lead Stroebel to declare an English major. Right now, she is toying with the idea of becoming a high school English teacher, enchanted by the thought of analyzing complex literature and decoding the symbolism in poetry with her students. However, whenever she pictures her future, Stroebel always sees music playing an integral role.

Recently, she has been weighing the idea of putting her career on hold for a year or so after graduation and focusing solely on being an artist, just to prove to herself that she’s capable.

“It’s very complicated right now, originally I never would have thought of music as anything more than a hobby,” Stroebel said. “I’m also so sure that if one day I had a career that never let me sing I’d be sad. I want to be able to do it as much as I can.”


About Aliza Gray