Nestled away near the freshman dorms, the Frost School of Music was recently recognized by The Hollywood Reporter as one of the top 25 music schools in the country. With world-famous faculty, the university’s resources and Miami’s vibrant music scene, it is no surprise that the Frost School of Music is one of the most competitive music schools in the nation.
The resources offered at Frost provide endless opportunities for performers to share their love of music and showcase their talent. Facilities like the Weeks Music Library and the newly constructed practice studios in Foster Hall give students spaces to express their creativity. Another advantage of Frost is the opportunity to join ‘Cane Records, the independent, student-run record label, which represents student performers and is managed by music business students. Additionally, there are multiple platforms for students to perform for their peers, like Patio Jams on the Lakeside Patio Stage and Festival, the annual contemporary music festival hosted on campus. The musicians on our campus may cover wide range of genres or find inspiration in distinctive ways, but they all have this in common – a passion for self-expression.
Self-described as a band of savages, SHENZI is making its mark on the music scene by uniting the smooth sounds of future soul with those of funky hip-hop. Members Des Bannister, Conor McCarthy, Andrew Novoa, Koa Ho and Johnathan Hulett – on vocals, guitar, keyboard, bass and drums, respectively– have both similarities and differences when it comes to their sources of inspiration. Their unique sound, however, is something that they can all agree on.
The vision for SHENZI was crafted mostly by the band’s drummer, Hulett, who recruited members based on his search for a specific sound. SHENZI’s unique musical aesthetic can be described as a mix of soul, hip-hop, funk and jazz, drawing inspiration from a range of artistic influences such as Chaka Khan and James Blake. Uniting these styles into one smooth sound has been well-received by audiences both inside and outside of Frost. However, it wasn’t until a successful performance on campus that SHENZI decided to be more than just a school ensemble. The band credits much of their popularity to faculty and friends in Frost who support their musical endeavors. “We seem to attract people that love quality music, genuine creativity, and artistic expression,” Hulett said.
The soulful vibes of SHENZI derive from the special bond that the band formed as a group of passionate and talented visionaries. “We hang out a lot as a family, so creative ideas and personal support are always part of the picture,” Hulett said. The band says their sources of inspiration have ranged from from things like political struggles, to relationships and food. Each member has been deeply connected to music from an early age, so SHENZI aspires to support emerging artists in the community.
“We want to build a studio space and play at festivals like Afro Punk or Governor’s Ball – but all in all, if we can inspire someone to pursue their passion, then we have made a positive impact,” Hulett said.
Mel Bryant is a folk singer with big plans for her future in the music business industry. As someone who finds inspiration in different forms of media, such as film and literature, the ingenuity of her music is guaranteed.
For her melodies and instrumentals, Bryant is draws inspiration from artists like Jimi Hendrix and Dead & Company. However, she cites modern performers such as Lady Gaga and Lana Del Rey as inspiring leaders of the music industry. She believes that both Gaga and Del Rey present consistent visual showmanship with a commitment to their craft. “I feel very strongly about the importance of artists taking back control of their artistry,” Bryant said. “It is a rarity because of the monopoly that the music industry holds over artists and songwriters.”
Bryant plans to spend this summer touring the Northeast and interning at a professional studio (which one?) in New York City. Then, she hopes to move to Nashville to start an all-encompassing music management company that will be run independently for artists, by artists. “It’s very difficult to do all the work of financing, planning recording sessions, advertising, marketing and publicizing your music by yourself, but it’s something you have to do if you want to grow as an independent musician and entrepreneur,” Bryant said.
With the help of ‘Cane Records, Bryant will soon be releasing her debut full-length album, “High Priestess.” The album will be available on iTunes, Spotify, SoundCloud and Bandcamp.
Junior in the Frost School of Music, Jack Lax is a talented musician that shares his love of singing with a passion for soulful songwriting. Since learning to play guitar at age 12, Jack has written more than 300 songs. With a rare sound he describes as neo-soul and R&B, Jack’s distinct voice is sure to capture the attention of any audience.
Lax cites artists such as Amy Winehouse and Erykah Badu as his sources of inspiration. “My music is really groove-oriented,” Lax said. “It’s kind of like Lauryn Hill and Tom Misch had a baby.”
In terms of creative content for his songwriting, Lax said he is mainly inspired by his personal experiences. His passion for songwriting has resonated with audiences at venues such as The Veranda and The Granary (where are these?).
“In the future, I will hopefully be touring and continuing to record my music,” Lax said. “I plan on either moving to Los Angeles or Tel Aviv after graduating if I don’t stay at UM for graduate school.”
Junior Corbet Campbell, otherwise known as Corbét, is a songwriter from New York who creates mystical music that says is meant for wonderers and wanderers.
“I would classify my sound as R&B, with some jazz influence and electro flavor,” Corbét said. “I want to appeal to a hungry, young crowd.” She believes live music should be a full sensory experience and eventually wants to design a show that combines vocal performance with live instruments and electronic music.
Corbét says she knew she wanted to be a singer from the moment she could sing to a tune, but she did not start writing or playing instruments until she was 13. Since then, she has written? a stockpile of songs that draw from various sources of inspiration. “Whether it be film, music, photography or a Stephen King novel, I always like experiencing art and drawing from the moods and emotions it conveys,” Corbét said.
With so many instruments and sounds integrated into her work, Corbet feels it is important to maintain her voice and the overall message of the song. “After I finish school, the plan is to make an extended play, create a show based around that music, and ultimately get people excited about it,” she said.
Better known to his friends as electronic D.J. Eche, Eche Palante is the successful alter ego of junior Dylan Echevarria. Echevarria’s dream of being an electronic D.J. started early, after growing up watching his brother mix on analogs and synths in their basement. Flash forward to 2017 and Eche Palante can be seen on lineups playing for crowds at Miami Music Week pool parties.
The start of Eche’s success as a D.J. came in 2015. Eche’s original track, which was signed to the electronic label Spinnin’ Records, gained popularity among established producers such as Tiesto, Oliver Heldens and EDX. Currently, Eche Palante is signed with the publishing company MusicAllStars Management, which has other famous names within the genre such as DVBBS, Sam Feldt and Sander Van Doorn. Additionally, Eche has been in negotiations with Universal Music Group, affiliated under the label Aftercluv Dancelab.
In a genre with so many emerging artists room for exploration, Eche feels it is important to find inspiration from a variety of musical styles. “I listen to pretty much everything from classical to pop, to jazz, salsa or merengue,” Eche said. “My audience is pretty diverse since I don’t stick to one genre. It’s more fun that way, and you can really experiment with your sound,” he said.
A political science and business law double major, Eche has established a back-up plan if his music career ever slows down. “I know I want to continue my passion for music and keep creating content as Eche, but I also have aspirations of becoming an entertainment lawyer,” he said.
words_ryan fitzpatrick. photos_elias smith & cindy ho.