While some students are lucky to dip their toes into the real world job market before graduation, a few music industry majors are jumping in headfirst.
The Music and Entertainment Industry Student Association (MEISA) is a student organization on campus that looks to provide aspiring musicians and entertainers the opportunity to expand their knowledge and get a glimpse of their potential career path. MEISA holds open mic nights, musical showcases and even attends national conferences that allow members to network with big wigs in the music industry.
Now, their experience is bringing them from in front of the microphone to behind a soundboard.
Undeclared Records is a student-run record label on campus. They independently record in Dragon Studios, where music industry students take production lessons. Instead of just taking tests and getting an “A” in the class, the students have begun to apply it to real bands, real sounds and a real record.
The Undeclared Records Spring 2013 Sampler is the outcome of a year-long production process. MSUM senior Rachael Goers is president of MEISA and has been helping coordinate the sampler, as well as heading the promotions and marketing aspect of the demo.
“This is such a great opportunity because I have now had experience running a real record label,” Goers said. “I’ve learned the struggles behind it as well as the benefits. It’s an experience other schools don’t get to have.”
The sampler is comprised of 10 songs, all of which were performed and written by music students. MEISA took YouTube and demo submissions in the fall to see the depth of talent vying musicians had in order to find the best potential artists for the album. Four of the tracks feature returning Undeclared musicians; the remaining six were performed by three new artists.
The album was co-produced by many people in MEISA, but three engineers took the lead in the recording studio and teamed up with the three new artists to create two tracks each. Rob Paulson engineered with Brother Owl, a folk rock band that includes Mike Lauer, Andy Stermer, Chad Hanson, Jason Alyward and Andi Thorenson; Alex Johnson engineered with Dorian Walker, an experimental rock solo artist; and Eric Jensen engineered with O’Shay, a rapper.
Goers said the different artists came in with various stages of development on their music. In some instances, the artists had the lyrics and beat and collaborated with the engineers to build their desired beat. Because Brother Owl is a full band, they had a well-rounded sound developed before entering the studio.
“It usually takes two or three months per song,” Goers said. “The faculty here is very hands-off. They provided help if we asked, but it was cool that they let us take the lead and work on it ourselves.”
Because of this, the engineers had the opportunity to completely control the process of making each song.
“The process has given me a deep appreciation of the work that goes into a record,” Johnson said. “I got to experience first hand the time it takes to record and edit a good album.”
For Jensen and O’Shay, the vision behind the songs was contingent on their collaboration. Jensen said he developed and changed the sound while O’Shay created beats and lyrics. Together, they were able to invent the desired end result.
“It’s challenging to get the sound you want,” Jensen said. “There are so many layers in hip-hop, and it was hard to get the sound of the microphone in the spot where you want it. Each microphone has a different sound, so it was difficult to find the right ones.”
After a year’s worth of writing, recording, editing and mixing, Undeclared Records Spring 2013 Sampler is set to release May 7. MEISA will hold a free release show at Studio 222 in Fargo that day, starting at 7 p.m. O’Shay, Dorian Walk and Brother Owl will perform songs off the album. Buffalo Wild Wings and Nicole’s Fine Pastries are catering the event. Attendees can buy the album at the release show or stream it from undeclaredrecords.bandcamp.com.
MEISA hopes to develop Undeclared Records into an even stronger label next year. Goers said they plan on producing two albums next year, one in the spring and one in the fall.
Photo courtesy of Claire Fiedler Photography
BY BRIAN ASHBURN