The Reel Music Festival held a Demo Derby to give artists feedback from judges with industry experience and a chance for a free recording session at Durham’s in-house recording studio.
Each artist or their representative went to the front and spoke about the song being presented. They then had three minutes to present the song before being critiqued.
There were six contestants: Lauryn Macfarlane, Courtney Wolfe, John Codey, Luke Gruntz, and the bands Crown Lands and Five Unlucky City Kids.
Sounds of surprise filled the room when judge Greg Jarvis announced a tie. Courtney Wolfe and Lauryn Macfarlane both won the recording session.
Wolfe’s song “Runnin’” is about someone looking for something, but unable to let go to get it, and “someone running from someone else,” she said at the competition.
Macfarlane’s song “Take Me Back” is meant to “take you back to loving someone and trusting them completely,” she said when introducing her demo.
During deliberations, attendee Tessa Troch said she was hoping for Luke Gruntz’ song “City Kids” to win. His song was about unlocking creativity when you are alone, and has connections to his own creative struggles in a small town, he said.
Gruntz joined the Demo Derby through video chat due to illness.
“[The judges] are my professors and I know these guys so it means a lot to get acknowledgement from them,” Macfarlane said, “and to hear that they have that much faith in me for when I go out into this industry on my own.”
She will graduate this year and has been singing since elementary school, and songwriting since Grade 8.
“I’m a little surprised, to be honest,” Wolfe said about her win. She said she was surprised the judges had gone for a tie.
She has been singing her entire life and started writing in Grade 7.
The three judges were Jeff Dalziel, Gregg Jarvis, and Troy Junker. All three have experience within the music industry, according the Festival’s website.
Dalziel worked for Sony Music Canada as in-house producer. He has been a Sony/ATV Music Publishing writer since 2000. He has produced, co-produced and written with many other artists outside of Sony. Dalziel has owned The Post Office/Diesel Music since 2005, where he produces major label records, writes, co-writes for record placement and writes music for television and film.
Jarvis worked for various major labels in the ‘90s, in marketing. He later became executive producer for the BBC’s flagship music program. Today Jarvis writes for the Huffington Post, and teaches at Durham College in the Music Business Program.
Junker recently graduated from that program. He is a hip hop artist who finished a songwriting course in 2012 at University of Saskatchewan. He has opened for popular artists, and created music with artist Belly from RocNation.
The Demo Derby was the last event of the Reel Music Festival for this year, but showcases continued in Whitby.