Yale’s underground music scene is about to take a trip to the surface.
17O1 Records, a new student-run company, has collected 101 submissions of original student music for a 10 to 15-track CD documenting the student talent on campus. Named after the year Yale was founded, 17O1 Records will serve as a “central hub” for campus musicians of all backgrounds to showcase their work, said 17O1 founder and president Daniel Esannason ’11. In collaboration with the Yale College Council’s Spring Fling Committee, the company will distribute 200 copies of the CD across campus during Spring Fling free of charge, and it will also be available to download online. 17O1 will make final selections Feb. 21, exactly a month after the submission deadline, and the CD will come out Apr. 18, he added.
“The music scene at Yale is fragmented,” Esannason said. “A lot of groups don’t have a fan base. What we plan to do is put out a compilation album of Yale’s premier musical talents.”
While most students have heard of a few campus artists such as Sam Tsui ’11, Esannason said, many talented artists are still underground. He said he hopes the CD will give some of these other talented musicians the audience they currently lack.
After the Jan. 21 submission deadline, 17O1 records had received submissions representing various genres of original music including pop, rock, hip-hop, jazz, folk, techno, and a cappella, Esannason said. A selection committee made up of the six 17O1 board members will announce the final track list on Feb. 21. The committee will send out tracks they are considering and collect feedback through an online survey, said Esannason. Vice President Martin Weaver ’12 said they are looking to pick a “representative sample of the variety of Yale’s campus [music].” Esannason added that there is no “magic formula” for what 17O1 looks for in a track.
Tracks are selected based on song quality, style, execution and lyrics but not on production quality, Esannason noted. 17O1 Records will provide artists with any resources they need to produce their tracks, he said, adding that many songs come to the company produced in Garage Band, Apple’s music editing software. If the artist is willing, 17O1’s team of engineers will reproduce the song in a professional studio.
“If we like a song, we’ll dedicate the appropriate time to have the band work with engineers to re-record the song,” Esannason said.
The project is entirely funded through the office of Susan Cahan, the associate dean for the arts, and through the Undergraduate Finance Committee, making the CD free for students. Esannason said Cahan put the group in touch with the School of Management professors to market the album and intellectual property lawyers Brad Rosen ’04 and Elizabeth Stark served as a legal counsel.
“I think it’s totally cool,” said Oliver Hill of the retro-folk group “Plume Giant.” “All the raw materials are there, [the music scene] just needs a little juice. No one’s being much help in the actual institutions.”
Plume Giant recorded its submissions, which combine three-part vocal harmony, guitar, violin, viola, drums and harmonium, by hanging microphones taped to projectors in empty classrooms on campus, Hill said, adding that it would be nice to use some of the professional recording equipment 17O1 Records could offer.
Nathan Prillaman ’13, the guitarist for a new rock trio yet to be named which submitted two tracks for 17O1’s review, said he thinks the CD will help student musicians by both giving them the resources to record tracks and by increasing their exposure on campus.
“I think it will be a great way to showcase what a lot of Yale musicians have been working on behind the scenes,” Prillaman said. “What’s important to me and my career is exposure and building a fan base.”
Esannason said as 17O1 looks to increase its membership, it is also still in need of a graphic designer for the CD cover and a web designer for the download webpage.
The name of the CD will be announced this week; other CDs will follow.
Correction: January 27, 2011
An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported Associate Dean for the Arts Susan Cahan’s job title and did not acknowledge that the program’s funding may also come from outside sources.