Do the names Julia Easterlin, Flearoy, Mainland Fever, or the Whiskey Collection sound familiar? No? I hadn’t heard of them either a year ago, but they just might be crafting the soundtrack for our generation in the years to come, and they’re all college students.
As conservatory students, we are all trying to perfect the juggling act of attending classes and rehearsals, practicing, studying, and living our lives. However we also owe it to ourselves as young artists to not only stay informed about the ever-evolving music scene around us, but also to support, inspire, and be inspired by our peers who are also striving to do what we love to do: make good music.
Over the past four years at Juilliard, I claimed to be someone who was very connected with my musical contemporaries and hip to the up-and-coming groups just hitting the scene, but it started getting embarrassing when I would be asked, “Have you heard of so-and-so at the New School?” or “Have you checked out that awesome band from U.S.C.?” And I hadn’t heard of them. Dealing with this juggling act, I had fallen into the trap of allowing myself to stay within the bubble of a music scene here, and it got frustrating. How could I seek out those mind-blowing talents among the hundreds of bands and artists sprouting up on college campuses each semester?
This frustration eventually led me to create a Web site dedicated to the discovery and promotion of the great music being created on college campuses all over the country and world. Called Campusounds, it gives readers daily snapshots of the music scene on different campuses. Student-written interviews and CD and concert reviews (often with music clips) let people share the sounds of the artists they love. The site also provides up-close-and-personal slices of life at different colleges from the students’ rather than the administrations’ perspective. And finally it offers a platform for artists to showcase their musical voices and connect them to their peers around the country and the world.
“College is a time of discovery and growth,” explains Max Wrightson, the Web site’s co-founder and chief communications officer—and a jazz drummer at U.S.C. “Because most of the artists [on Campusounds] are not signed to a label, they are not under pressure to make mainstream music. The result is a very honest and thoughtful sound.”
Additionally, we are trying to aid the search for the diamonds in the rough as the indie scene becomes more and more cluttered with people who have just figured out what GarageBand does and how easy it is to put their EP on iTunes. Yet we are in no way attempting to be the authority on what should be considered good music. Each week, writers come to us with ideas about which artists to cover. We pick writers who have some type of connection with and relationship to the music they’re going to write about, and we give them complete freedom in their selection of artists, no matter the genre or musical style. Whether they are musicians themselves or just avid music lovers, we know they’ll report on great music and explain what makes it good. It’s hard to define, but you know it when you hear it.
The greatest thing is that the writers come to us with a strong belief in the Campusounds philosophy and a love for music, and as the site has continued to grow, more and more people have been asking how they can help out or get their stuff on Campusounds. The answer is, just ask. There’s no catch here, there’s no band membership fee or percentage we take from your sales. We’re simply trying to connect the talented minds of this generation and create a community that will shape the sound of music from here on. Because hearing what our peers are creating around the globe can have an incredible impact on our own art. In order to be balanced artists, we must not only be inspired by the greats who came before, but we must also be aware of what’s happening today.