More than a penny | entertainment news

Drew Erickson

For many artists, creativity comes from a selfish source; they create because they need to. But most creative people eventually find that what they create can be more than they planned. Privately created art can be the tool we use to heal ourselves. But when art is made public, it becomes a form of self-expression that can go far beyond its creator. New to sharing his music with the world, musician Zane Penny has focused on how he can use his work to bring Anchorage’s arts community closer together.

As a songwriter, Penny uses her lyrics to create pleasure and beauty from pain and ugliness. “I really believe that when you turn trauma into art, it is no longer trauma. You have a really cool piece of art. Then I don’t look at it like, “This is a shitty part of my life.” It’s like, “Damn, this is good writing material,” he said.

But in sharing his music, Penny discovered that songs can also help the listener. “I write something really personal and then I kind of change my mind about it because I’m like, ‘Do I want people to know this about me? Because it’s incredibly personal. It’s just weird to reveal things about me that my family might not even know about. But I think that’s what’s so cool about it. People you don’t know can probably understand what you’re saying a lot more.

Penny wants the sense of community and connection to reach as far as possible. He is part of the Vitus Collective, a group whose goal is to provide events for people of all ages to enjoy art and music.

“There are no shows for all ages here, except for the Nave show, so when there is an opportunity, so many people come to support.”

Currently, most live music in Alaska is performed in bars, limiting the demographic reach of the audience. But the team is working on expanding the scene.

“No alcohol is really cool. I got messages from people after the show, like: “It’s very nice for a sober person to be in an environment where this is not the norm.” When there are kids or people my age under twenty-one, they want to be included. So everyone dances and everyone sings. It’s such a good environment. This is amazing. It’s just a lot more fun to get everyone involved,” Penny explained.

The joint element of Penny and Vitus’ activities applies not only to their public events, but also to their joint work.

“Every time I write music, it’s a very collaborative effort. All my friends make music, so I just pass it on, get ideas, and we all add our little sauce to it,” Penny said.

And this feeling extends not only to the Collective, but also to the local musical community.

“In Los Angeles, everyone is so replaceable that everyone is climbing to the top. But in Alaska, you have to make it work with each other. It’s not competitive at all – at least in my eyes. It’s like, “I put on a show with the homies,” Penny said.

Before starting to write and perform music, Penny was behind the scenes, working with Vitus on filming music videos for the other members.

“I started when I was in kindergarten making stop-motion Lego animation. And then I sort of got into short films.” But he always wanted to make music himself. “I was obsessed with Justin Bieber. I wanted to be Justin Bieber. So my first dream was, “I want to be a pop star.” And then I sort of got into filmmaking and stuff. And then I did that until, I don’t know, I joined Vitus and we started doing gigs and now I’m like, “I want to be a pop star.”

After seeing his colleagues perform live, Penny plucked up the courage to step into the spotlight and began performing as well.

“Being able to see someone in the position you want to be in is really inspiring. Especially when you see it in front of you. I think you can have high hopes for people,” Penny said.

This summer, Vitus plans to be very active in Anchorage, with a wide range of artistic endeavors in mind. In addition to making music, they work on fashion design, a magazine series and a podcast. They also plan to host shows for all ages every week throughout the summer. As for Zayn’s creative plans as a person, he intends to release singles every few months while working on the publication of his first full album. In the meantime, we can look forward to his next song “The Avenue” coming out soon.

Check out Zane Penny’s work on Spotify and be sure to follow @VitusCollective on Instagram.


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