York College freshman Alex Terraciano is torn.
On the one hand, he's studying the ins and outs of entrepreneurship and the music industry in his classes. It's useful information for his chosen career, and his immediate family insists "college is the top priority," he says.
On the other hand, he's been performing as hip-hop and pop artist Glare Novice since he was 15, and the stage is calling.
"I love performing. I use all my energy," he says. "I'm just trying to make the high-energy, fun songs that people can sing along to. The hooks are very catchy."
Inspiration: Terraciano credits one man with opening the door to his dream.
"My grandfather. There's no way I'd be doing music without him," he says. "He's 100 percent my inspiration."
His grandfather, a pianist and songwriter himself, began taking the then-15-year-old Terraciano to open mic nights after hearing his original song "Garden State" about his home state of New Jersey.
Primarily a self-taught musician who plays by ear, Terraciano is "learning the piano and learning how to read music" at school, he says, as well as upping his vocal game.
"I took a couple months of vocals to learn how to control my breathing," he says. Given his fast-paced but smooth delivery, it's no surprise that "especially on stage, after like four or five songs you're out of breath."
Starting out: He grew up on artists like Eminem, 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg and Green Day, but it's the next generation that he aims to emulate, he says. Artists like Big Sean, Mac Miller, Wiz Khalifa and Kanye West have made an impression. As a junior in high school, Terraciano took the first big step toward his dream thanks to Miller's example.
"I took a trip out to his studio in Pittsburgh, and I booked 16 hours with his engineer," he says. "I recorded a 12-track mixtape called 'One Track Mine.'"
Working in the same studio, with the same people who helped launch the young Pittsburgh rapper's career just a few years earlier, was a big thrill.
"It was a great weekend; I'll never forget it," he says. "That was the first experience that I realized music was really my thing."
New music: Terraciano's latest mixtape, "No Intentions," is due out this month.
"I'm more than excited about this new music that's coming out," he says. "It's the best stuff I've ever done."
He writes all of his own songs, focusing on topics listeners can relate to, from the anxieties of school to the excitement of dating and the struggle to make adult decisions. But he likes to keep things light and hopeful.
"It's really fun. It's more hip-hop and a little pop," he says. "Some wordplay is really funny."
Yorkers can judge for themselves by checking out the music online or catching Terraciano performing live on campus. A concert is in the works.
"I'll definitely be playing the new songs," he says. It's an obvious choice for a rapper whose stage name is all about looking at the world through new eyes every day.
Glare Novice "was a random thing when I was writing a song," he says, but "it means a brand-new start, shining and fresh."
Get the music
Glare Novice's "One Track Mine" is available for download from www.datpiff.com. "No Intentions" will be available soon.
- Reach Mel Barber at firstname.lastname@example.org.