While junior Milo Camaya strums their guitar, a tiny black cocker spaniel tears across the room of WVKC. Days like this are exactly what music is for in Camaya’s opinion:
capturing the simple snippets of life and sharing that moment with anyone willing to listen. Camaya finds their inspiration during the smaller moments in life.
“I usually write music as a way to get my emotions out. If I’m happy, the music will be happy. If I’m sad, the music will be very sad,” Camaya said.
Meanwhile, senior Justin Bell looks for his inspiration in collaboration with friends and other musicians, whether it be students, alumni, Galesburg artists, or even friends across the country. One of those collaborators is his music partner currently living in Florida whom he met while studying abroad in Denmark. One of his favorite songs is the first one they performed together.
“It’s just a really funny song about wanting a nice car and a cigarette,” Bell said.
Both musicians tend toward the same ‘acoustic, singer/songwriter’ style, in listening and writing their own songs. Since meeting his music partner, Bell has started to expand his style of acoustic rock into other genres, like punk and country.
Though Camaya is interested in possibly pursuing a music minor, neither artist is involved with music academically or perform in any musical ensembles on campus. Bell found his way into music the same way he finds his inspiration, through others. It started freshman year with him playing things for his friends. As time passed and he became more serious, so did the encouragement of others.
“People encouraged me that [my music] sounded somewhat good and I should record it,” Bell said.
Now Bell is consistently recording new songs and performing at open mics hosted by Knox and the Galesburg community. Over Halloween last year he was able to participate in a paid performance for the Chamber of Commerce.
Open mic opportunities like these are where Camaya was first introduced to the idea of actually performing the music they had written.
“I remember my orientation leader was at open mic and he was like, ‘you should do this,’” Camaya said.
All it took was that small push from another, more experienced artist on campus, and they found their home.
“People really liked it, it surprised me a lot,” Camaya said.
Both artists also had a very similar push through WVKC, the Knox College Radio Station. Bell worked for the station his sophomore and junior year as the recording studio engineer, leaving the station this year. Camaya began working this year as WVKC’s music engineer.
With graduation looming in the distance, Camaya and Bell are faced with the same question every student eventually is faced with: what next? With senior year quickly coming to a close this question has been on Bell’s mind frequently, articulated in the song he performed by the same name.
“I, making a stand against adulthood, raging against what it stands for … till graduation,” Bell sings.
Right behind them will be the others ready and waiting to step into those same positions left behind. Students like Camaya, writing love songs about evenings in June and buying bread and cheese at Trader Joe’s, will continue that legacy and inspire others after them to do the same.
Camaya currently isn’t planning to pursue music as a career. For them, it’s just a hobby. Even if performing music as a career isn’t the goal, that doesn’t mean it ends once they’ve gotten their diploma. Bell still plans on continuing to perform music even after graduation.
“I think I still want to keep making music,” Bell said. “I don’t think I’ll ever make it big, or make a lot of money; I don’t think it’ll be my career or anything but it’s still really fun.”
Bell, Camaya and other talented local artists can be found at open mics hosted by Knox, WVKC, DIY Galesburg and events hosted by other local businesses.