First-year Eleanor McQuistion Seeks Music Career in Los Angeles


Author: Chris Ellis

Eleanor McQuistion arrived at Occidental with an impressive musical resume, including: a produced album, show experience and years of work in a studio and on songwriting. McQuistion hails from Westchester County, New York where she was a regular member of the local club and coffee shop scene. As a singer-songwriter she writes all of her own music, and last year she spent four months producing an album titled, “Westward Bound.” At Occidental, McQuistion performs with her new band, Five O’ Clock Horzion.

She started playing gigs during her sophomore year of high school and continued to attract a following in the small towns and cities surrounding New York City. She describes how the small-town mentality allowed her to become a familiar face to many people who casually watched her perform at their local restaurants and events. “People started to recognize me and would stop and tell me about how they saw me perform the other day or how they had looked me up online and liked my sound,” McQuistion said.

The sound McQusition produces is a unique combination of folk and rock. The vocals become a central sound in her songs and provide a progression through the catalogue. The Strokes, Simon and Garfunkel, REM and U2 all appear to be influences of her work. McQuistion’s music also seems to borrow the melodic tones of Michelle Branch and Jewel.

McQuistion’s time at Occidental will be a combination of pursuing her education and trying to promote her sound in the Los Angeles music scene. “The reason I am in Los Angeles is for the music. I want to be part of the industry and the industry is here,” she said.

She has become involved in the Occidental community by becoming a KOXY DJ and a new pledge of Delta Omicron Tau. McQuistion is also a founding member of RAWRecords, which is a new organization on campus that hopes to produce records and albums for aspiring Occidental musicians.

RAWRecords is working to buy enough equipment to create a studio on campus where musicians can work on original songs or collaborations with other students. It remains to be seen what impact this organization will have on campus, but RAWRecords could provide an outlet for students who want to experiment outside the traditionally classical music department at Occidental.

At Occidental’s Apollo Night McQuistion performed with her band Five O’ Clock Horizon which includes Nick Gallagher (first-year) and Seth Hansen (senior). She says that their mutual love for music and the process of writing and producing good work is what brings them together. “[I hope] after college we can stay together as a group and continue to write music and try to make it in L.A.,” McQuistion said.

McQuistion’s trajectory towards musical stardom hasn’t taken a traditional path. She picked up a guitar around the age of 11 and is almost completely self-taught. She admits to less than a year of training formal voice training. She developed her voice by playing the guitar in her room and finding a sound that seemed unique to her.

The reason why McQuistion continued with music is more important than how she picked it up. She describes music as a way to get her through hard times in middle school and high school. “Writing music was my way of coping with the stress” she said.

McQuistion shared her musical talents with this community by engaging in volunteer programs in New York that included bringing music and teaching guitar to children in her local communities.  

When asked what she thinks of the music department at Occidental she said, “I didn’t really come to Oxy for the music, I came to Oxy for the education and came to Los Angeles for the music.”

Los Angeles is teeming with small venues that love bringing in aspiring talent. With Occidental close to places like Silverlake and West Hollywood, McQuistion will have plenty of opportunities to play for a diverse and expansive audience.

McQuistion rebels against the notion of having a back up plan to music. “As a musician you don’t have a backup plan because if you do, you’ll always have an easy way out,” she said.

She hopes to continue where she left off in New York and find a musical community in Los Angeles, where she can grow and expand her musical repertoire. “I’m in this for the long haul. I want to make this happen. I want to play music, and that’s it,” she said.  

The record “Westward Bound” can be found online at McQuistion’s Myspace music profile along with some of her other recent songs.

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