Jacobs student’s percussion work catches Gotye’s eye

A life of technology and music: Indiana University Jacobs School of Music senior Evan Chapman hopes to sustain that balance after graduation.

It’s a combination he’s managed to maintain throughout his four years in Bloomington, studying percussion, performing serious classical pieces and playing in rock bands, as well as creating groovy YouTube videos covering pop hits.

It was his cover of Gotye’s 2011 hit single “Somebody That I Used to Know,” in fact, that landed him and fellow Jacobs student Natalie Salzman a pair of VIP passes and the chance to meet the Belgian-Australian singer-songwriter during the fall 2012 semester.


Natalie Salzman, left, and fellow Jacobs School student Evan Chapman, right, met singer-songwriter Gotye, center, at a VIP event.

“It was so cool, and something I never in a million years would’ve thought would come out of making the cover,” Chapman said. “Gotye was very personable and down to earth. He said a lot of people had covered the song, but I think he was interested in our choice of instrumentation. Natalie played the harp, and I played some other instruments he might not have seen, the vibes and marimba. So I think that kind of classical route interested him and caught his eye.”

Chapman has covered other bands and musicians, including Radiohead, Skrillex, Bon Iver and Damien Rice. And he plays in several local bands, including Square Peg Round Hole, where he and three fellow percussion students perform contemporary classical music

“Music is a thing in our family,” Chapman said, describing piano lessons as a youngster, a musical brother and a father who played bass guitar. “And I’ve always been into technology and videography. My inspiration is my brother, a recording engineer and producer in Philadelphia. So I just kind of combined all those things and began filming myself playing.”

Filming personal performances and covering some of his favorite bands can be a “nice break,” he said, “because in orchestras and bands you’re playing out what other people want, so it’s nice to do things for yourself. I cover bands or songs I really like, or drummers I want to emulate. It started out as fun, and now these have really morphed into a kind of music video.”

Chapman said his studies at the Jacobs School of Music have broadened his perspective and inform his work, including working with faculty members Michael Spiro, John Tafoya, Kevin Bobo and Steve Houghton.

“Ever since I started playing, my goal was to be in a band and tour the world and be a rock star,” he said with a grin. “But as I get closer to graduation, I’m just trying to think of a way to make a living out of combining these worlds; playing music and still keeping the technology side of what I do alive. There are so many possibilities, and they’re all fun and exciting.”

Chapman’s solo album, “Spring Forward,” is available on iTunes and Amazon.

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