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by Hannah Simon on December 07, 2011
Sophomore > Magazine Journalism > Syracuse University
Harrison Friday is your typical college student musician - but there's more to it than meets the eye.
Harrison Friday is your typical college student musician - but there's more to it than meets the eye.

Harrison Friday was sitting at the piano, casually pressing the keys without much thought. Suddenly his music teacher pulled out his harp. Plucking the strings along to what Friday thought was just goofing off on the piano turned into something spectacular.

“It was pure chemistry,” Friday said. “There’s no other feeling like it.”

Music is soothing for most people, but for Harrison Friday it serves a larger purpose.

“The only time my brain slows down and stops is when I’m playing,” Friday says.  

Friday has Attention Deficit Disorder.

“When I was a kid I was always told that I was gifted and really smart and everyone said that I was going to get into a great college, but then in middle school I couldn’t balance and remember assignments. That just really screwed me up,” Friday says.

It took a toll on his self-esteem. “I didn’t really have that many friends growing up. I was awkward and geeky,” Friday said.

His mind constantly racing, pulling out his guitar is one of the few ways to calm it down.

He began playing guitar in the eighth grade but was not serious about it until his junior year of high school, when he began composing music. Performing in high school began the process of rebuilding his self-esteem.

“I usually get a positive response when I show people my music. It feels really good,” Friday said.

Friday is mostly self-taught and also sings, plays piano and the synthesizer. He cites Radiohead and Paul Gilbert as his influences and openly gushes about his love for Elliot Smith. With songwriting, Friday finds that he can openly talk about his sexuality without making others feel uncomfortable.

“I find that you can pretty much talk about anything in a song and people will respond to it better than they would in conversation,” he said.

A sophomore music composition student at Columbia College Chicago, Friday is now hoping to turn this hobby into a full-fledged career. He is currently recording his first album using only his laptop and the collaboration of a few other musician friends. Other than a few open mic nights at school, this is his first foray into the music world. Friday admits to feeling a bit intimidated. He describes the album as having a post-rock feel ala Explosions in the Sky and Sigur Ros, but with more structured song writing. The sound is spacious and very processed. He mixes his guitar playing with electronic sounds. He plans to release it on iTunes eventually. Friday also aspires to compose the scores to films. He is inspired by Clint Mansell’s work in Requiem For A Dream and Phillip Glass’s score for The Hours.

“Just because I’m a musician doesn’t mean other art forms aren’t important. The more classical stuff I do can draw inspiration from painting, cinema, really any type of art,” Friday says.

Friday says that the environment at Columbia is very creative. He chuckles to himself, saying that students often assign themselves to projects at parties that they have no intention of actually doing, because they had a few too many drinks. Friday finds inspiration from the Chicago art scene. Many of the artists he’s seen appear repressed by the small towns they left behind for the windy city. Friday himself is originally from a small town outside of Pittsburgh. He now has access to culture that he could not find anywhere else.

“Just because I’m a musician doesn’t mean other art forms aren’t important. The more classical stuff I do can draw inspiration from painting, cinema, really any type of art,” he said. “I’d like to have a career in music, but I with the likelihood and everything I have a back up plan to pursue my master’s in music therapy.”

Something tells us he won’t be needing that back up plan. 

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