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Maris O’Tierney – Alaskan, Twin, Artist

Maris O’Tierney: Alaskan, Twin, Artist
Year: Junior
Major: Vocal Performance, Political Science, and Art History
Hometown: Anchorage, Alaska

Q: What are you involved with on campus?
Maris: I’m involved with a lot of artistic things on campus. I teach a lot of private voice lessons through a program in the music school for disadvantaged high schoolers in the Evanston area, primarily just high school girls, and I mentor them too. I also write my own music and perform around the Chicago area and also in Evanston. Recently I had an internship at the Block Museum on campus here at Northwestern.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your performances in Chicago? Where do you perform? Who do you perform with?
Maris:  So the music that I write is all original by me, the music and the lyrics. Sometime I collaborate with my twin sister who plays violin and also sings in live performances in places like The Double Doors and The Elbow Room in downtown Chicago. I’m also Irish so I’ve had the chance to collaborate with some traditional musicians and opened for them at the Irish Heritage Center in Chicago.

Q: How would you characterize your own music?
Maris: I think it’s like folk-pop but it’s more like me being me. People have compared what I do to Regina Spektor. I draw from different influences; anything that I hear that I really enjoy will find its way to what I’m doing even in small kernels.

Q: How do you think your childhood in Alaska varies from other people in the US?
Maris: I think that Alaska has such openness to the landscape that translates to openness in people and ambitiousness that I haven’t really seen anywhere else. I always felt like I could go for anything and that was never too weird.

Q: What’s it like having a twin?
Maris: I think being a twin and having that relationship affects all the other relationships I make in a really beautiful way, in the sense that I have such a strong foundation for love and trust. I think musically too and artistically-I love her and admire her so much. She’s almost a role model to me in a way that it really encourages me to look for something beautiful in everything.

Q: How are you two different?
Maris: We express ourselves differently: I’m someone who cuts to the chase and I’m very honest and upfront with people while she can just be more subtle with the way she conveys her emotions and communicates. In terms of clothing, we’re both very into thrift shopping but I tend to take more risks while Bryce knows exactly what she likes to wear. Clothing sets the tone for the day for me; how I feel determines what I wear.

Q: Where do you see yourself after graduation?
Maris: I had an interest in law school coming into NU, but with where I’m at artistically, as soon as I graduate I’m gonna just go for it with music. Art is now and it wants to be expressed. I feel like there’s almost this higher calling I just have to answer and I don’t know where that would lead but I’m willing to take a risk.

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