On Sunday evening, Feb. 24, in the live room of WMUC’s Radio station, Ava Mirzadegan, a 23-year-old singer-songwriter from Fairfax, Va., performed a magical set of music for the College Park community under the band name Pen Palindrome.
Inspired by her name, Mirzadegan’s band name originates from the signature on her childhood penpal letters, which she signed, “Your pen palindrome, Ava.”
Mirzadegan said that her emotional state is something her songwriting is inspired by, and that she has not been inspired to write anything with particular direction lately.
Instead, she said, she ad libs lyrics that showcase her “emotions and subconscious at play,” even though there are musical influences that Mirzadegan draws inspiration from.
“I would describe my genre as ‘ambient rock that you can take home to meet your family,'” Mirzadegan said.
WMUC Live Music Director, James Lore, said that after seeing Ava’s first live show in early February, he wanted to have her play a show at Third Rail.
Whether big or small, Lore said that it’s important to give all bands a chance to share their music by giving them a platform at the radio station.
“There’s so many talented musicians around here that deserve exposure like we give them,” Lore said.
Lore said that bringing different music genres to WMUC, ranging from hard core rock to soft indie sounds, shares the larger life narrative that “live performance is super vital and without it, music is less interesting.”
“I would describe my genre as ‘ambient rock that you can take home to meet your family,'”- Ava Mirzadegan
During a few of her songs, Mirzadegan is accompanied by a drum machine that resembles a tiny piano. She said that the machine is part of an electric organ that she bought off of Craigslist.
It’s not the only instrument from Craigslist that Mirzadegan owns. She also has “three organs and an autoharp” as well as “a bunch of guitars and pianos that have either been gifted to [her] or bought.”
Inspired through instruments, Mirzadegan said she would rather recreate sounds when she plays live, than produce them through a computer.
“I love finding all their unique voices and being able to hold them in my hands rather than it living on a screen,” she said.
Playing music right after a louder, more intense band, Lore said that Mirzadegan’s sound emphasized the importance of showcasing a diverse range of live music.
“I liked having Ava’s set as an immediate foil to that of a hardcore punk band,” Lore said.
Maliq Emmanuel, a show-goer and resident of Hyattsville, Md., who had not heard of Pen Palindrome before said that he thoroughly enjoyed the sound of Mirzadegan’s solo band and would see her perform again.
By performing in the small space of the live room and having the audience sit closely next to one another, Emmanuel said that the intimate experience made Mirzadegan’s music stand out more.
“I really enjoyed the chill vibes of all of her songs, ” Emmanuel said. “To me, it felt like the music she wrote came from a genuine place.”