Remixed campus record label prepares students for ‘real world’
by Betsy Harmsen
On-campus record label Undeclared Records is back on track after an organizational revamp earlier this year. The overhaul has attracted new talent and earned some recognition on campus.
Donovan Jonk, who joined the label three semesters ago, decided the student organization was in need of a change last summer.
“We’ve pretty much started from the ground up,” Undeclared co-president Kaylianna Mathison said. “Undeclared Records is kind of (Jonk’s) baby.”
Jonk, who co-leads the label with Mathison, said Undeclared has become a valuable tool preparing students for the “real world,” adding that because of it, he’s able to work in the music industry in several capacities. He currently works in the studio, engineering and producing as the label records auditioned student work. Hannah Hoeschen is one musician who got the chance to use the space. She first planned to record a three-song EP but later extended her ambitions to recording a full album.
“I was really good at keeping myself accountable for writing and getting these songs together,” Hoeschen said. “Some of them were written when I was in high school and elaborated on when I got to college. It’s kind of a big arrangement of the last four or five years of my life.”
Hoeschen describes her self-titled album as having an indie singer-songwriter sound.
“It’s acoustic, but it still has a lot of guitar and electric guitar with some reverb spatial sound,” Hoeschen said.
She auditioned with her favorite original song, “Medicine,” which she wrote two years ago.
“It’s kind of written about the things that you take upon you and the things that get inside you can’t get rid of,” she said. “We let things get under our sink and take things too personally. It’s one of those songs … that was really healing to me.”
Michael Beatrez, a senior from New Prague, Minnesota, is also recording with Undeclared. He’ll be graduating with Jonk in the fall.
Beatrez said he is about 90 percent done with work on his 10-song album.
“The song that means the most to me is probably ‘Dearest Dear,’” Beatrez said. “It was the first song I wrote for this collection, and I think the rest of the songs have been influenced by it in some way.”
He said the opportunity to work with Undeclared and put together a CD is the reason he came to MSUM.
“(Undeclared has) really opened up my eyes and ears to a bigger vision for the album,” Beatrez said.
Because Undeclared is largely student run and budgeted, its recording schedule is flexible.
“There is so much talent here and so much opportunity,” Jonk said. “Undeclared just needed to be organized, and it needed a face in the student body, too.”