There has been quite a shift in Yale’s student music scene in the past few years.
Where there was once a surprising lack, now there are student bands that play to packed basements and release highly anticipated EPs. (I’m talking about Magic Man’s unforgettable concert earlier this year and Plume Giant’s EP that dropped just last month.) We have gone from a world of outsourcing — heading to New York for concerts or playing sets in Hartford bars — to opening Spring Fling with a student group each year, the winners of the annual Battle of the Bands event.
“I think it could be a robust scene waiting to happen,” said Nathan Campbell ’14, a member of Yale Radio. “And from what I hear it’s a lot more robust than it used to be. When I saw Magic Man it was packed, people were jumping around … and that’s what more shows could be like if there were more of an awareness.”
Much of this resurgence is thanks to WYBC-X (“Yale Radio”) which has re-established itself over the past few years, and now boasts a vibrant online presence and hosts weekly concerts in the basement of 216 Dwight Street. WYBC even has its own record label — WYBC Records — that records and distributes mp3 sessions of the bands that the station brings in to its studio for weekly interviews and performances. The station’s General Manager Sean Owczarek ’12 said the label hopes to release a vinyl at the end of the year.
But Owczarek implied that the station isn’t meant to appeal to everyone nor act as a centralizing force in on-campus music, even though it has the resources.
“It’s the best-kept secret at Yale,” he said.
But that means those interested in student bands have no central outlet.
Enter 17O1 Records, a new student record label whose goal is to create a compilation of student-submitted music by the week of Spring Fling. All acts are welcome, from rap to folk, from already-recorded to needing equipment.
“There’s a lot of talented musicians on campus, but a lot of people don’t know about them unless they saw a flyer somewhere,” the label’s president Daniel Esannason ’11 said. “There needs to be a central hub for musicians to come together.”
Esannason wants 17O1 Records to be that hub. The record label will reach out to student bands, who will either have their own submission tracks recorded or will ask the label for help. 17O1 will use Yale’s resources to put together the CD — the head of the Digital Media Center for the Arts recently taught two of the label’s members the basics of sound production. The group already has an executive board, faculty advisors who are specialists in music and intellectual property, and interest from graduate design students and members of Yale Design.
And all the current members agree that there are issues with how musically interested people get in touch.
“I feel like it needs some cohesion,” said Treasurer C.J. Uy ’12, a guitarist and digital producer for the band Salivating Eyes. “Right now there’s not a lot of cooperation.”
17O1 is still in the meeting stage. Esannason said he doesn’t want conflict and is open to working with WYBC. He also hopes that after he graduates, the next executive board will “take it to the next level.” He hopes they’ll look into multiple CDs each year that are based on genre.
But 17O1 records has yet to realize one aspect of any music scene that can’t be changed: music enthusiasts are a part of an in-group. A centralized hub — like the one 17O1 Records is proposing — means that everyone is in, so everyone might as well be out. That’s why Yale Radio is “the best kept secret at Yale” — it doesn’t cater to just anyone, only those who are there for the long haul.
So if 17O1 wants to succeed, they’ll need to come off as exclusive in order to become widespread. Like an indie band going big.
Is exclusivity the best thing for everyone on campus? Is that the way it should be? Probably not. Would more people go to shows if all the information were in one central place? Probably.
But that’s not how people want to enjoy music. There’s a reason they call it indie.