Though he graduated with a philosophy degree, Paul Canetti ’05 always knew he waned to be a musician.
“As soon as I could talk I was singing,” Canetti said. “I’ve always been performing in one way or another.”
Canetti began playing piano in the third grade and was actively involved in choral, theater and a cappella groups in high school.
When he came to Ithaca College, Canetti joined the all male a cappella group, Ithacappella. But he yearned for a more rock-oriented group, so he and a few friends formed co-ed VoiceStream in 2002.
“I was used to rock music a cappella,” Canetti said. “I’m not a shirt and tie kind of guy.”
Marissa DeVito ’03 helped Canetti create VoiceStream. DeVito, Canetti and the other founding members didn’t want to be a normal a cappella group, and other students agreed. More than 80 people showed up for Voice-Stream’s first auditions. The group now has 17 members.
In addition to forming one of the college’s three well known a cappella groups, Canetti was generally popular around campus.
“Paul was voted Mr. Ithaca,” DeVito said. “That pretty much says it all.”
Canetti said his Mr. Ithaca was unexpected. Being crowned the first Mr. Ithaca gave him the chance to meet people in his class he wouldn’t have known otherwise, he said.
“It was really fun,” said Canetti. “I got to wear a Burger King crown to the bars afterwards.”
Canetti started as an exploratory major but later decided to major in philosophy. Rick Kaufman, professor and chair of philosophy and religion, said Canetti was one of the best students he has ever had. Kaufman said Canetti was bright and “a great deal of fun.”
“He was excellent at dreaming up all kinds of strange possibilities, but he always used them to make a significant philosophical point,” Kaufman said.
Canetti said his plan was always to pursue a career in music, but he chose to major in philosophy because he wanted music to remain fun.
“I didn’t want music to be my homework,” he said.
Though Canetti formed a band with friends during college, after graduation he decided on a solo career. “Cycles,” released this year on Canetti’s own label, L4 Records, is Canetti’s debut full-length CD. “Cycles” is a semi-autobiography album that tells the story of a relationship from beginning to end and the possibility for future love.
“I didn’t want to hit people with a concept album, but the [CD] does tell a story over the 13 tracks,” Canetti said. “All life is circular.”
Canetti is also a featured artist on DeVito’s Umixit software. The program, which also features Aerosmith, allows users to remix individual tracks of a song. The business collaboration allows Canetti and DeVito — both busy New Yorkers — to keep in touch and continue working in the music world with each other.
When Canetti’s not making music or working at Apple, he enjoys listening to the Beatles, Radiohead and People in Planes. Canetti said artists like Michael Jackson and Ben Folds influence his music.
“I was always going to these pop, jam band shows and [a lot] of rock shows,” he said. “I’ve always wanted a way to combine the two into a pop-jam, singer songwriter rock type of music.”
Canetti still maintains ties to VoiceStream and tries to attend two of their concerts a year. He and fellow previous VoiceStream members perform solo sets at local Ithaca clubs whenever they’re in town for concerts. Canetti said he revels in the chance to see what has become of his baby and the opportunity to play music with his friends again. Though he enjoys reliving the old days occasionally, Canetti said he is confident in his decision to pursue a solo career.
“I had to do it myself,” Canetti said. “I know that I’m not going to quit.”
Paul Canetti will perform at 10 p.m. Saturday at The Nines, 311 College Ave. $5.