This month Durham College and UOIT celebrated the 15th annual Reel Music Festival, an event meant to showcase musical talent in the Durham region and give them a chance to pull in a varied crowd.
This weekend the festival held it’s annual DEMO DERBY, where new local artists could submit a song demo and get feedback from a panel of judges consisting of experienced producers Jeff Dalziel and David Hayman of Dieselmusic, Jen Fox of Eggplant Entertainment, artist Derek Hoffman of Brighter Brightest, and Durham College’s own Greg Jarvis.
Many artists were featured at the DEMO DERBY, with most incorporating pop elements and styling into their music, though sometimes met with mixed reviews.
A few artists strayed away from the indie-pop styling of most modern acts. Hip-hop act Fallacy & Bobz/Bohemian Grove, two separate projects comprised of the same members, brought heavy nineties influenced hip-hop style, with Bohemian Grove containing a heavy rock influence in the instrumentals of their song.
However it was pop styling that won over the judges. Sixteen-year-old Julien Kelland’s track, “I blame you,” took judges by surprise. Bringing strong vocals and instrumental arrangement, the young artist was commended for her vocal skill and styling, which Hoffman compared to Miley Cyrus.
The young artist seemed happy to have been given such praise, but as many of the other artists were told, she needed to be more original. Not many artists at 16 have such a strong voice and command of vocal range as Kelland, but just like everything else, practice makes perfect.
Other artists were not given such positive reviews. Local Oshawa artist, Things We Can’t Untie, received a negative review due to poor production quality, inexperienced song writing, and a lack of syncopation, according to the judges.
At the same time, many other artists had mixed reviews due to elements in either song writing or production that were too pop sounding or unoriginal.
The music industry isn’t always easy to be successful in. You have to be original, but sound familiar enough to sell records and get on the radio. Because of this, not all artists succeed in the industry.
The audience and artists that attended DEMO DERBY were excited to participate in the event, and judges gave constructive feedback to budding artists. Once again the Reel Music Festival has opened up opportunities for local artists, helping reinforce the local music scene.