Unique sounds and voices at Oshawa Music Week’s Demo Derby

Four judges sit behind a table.
Photo by Meagan Secord

Demo Derby panelists (from left to right) Riley Farmer, Vanessa Markov, John Curtis, and Greg Jarvis

From “very Canadian” to “90s rock vibe,” this year’s Oshawa Music Week Demo Derby brought unique sounds to the table.

The Derby took place at the former E.P. Taylor’s Pub on the Oshawa campus and provided a chance for new and emerging artists to receive feedback on their demos from professionals in the music industry.

“The uniqueness was their approach to the songs,” said judge, Riley Farmer from Echo Recordings. “It just didn’t sound like anything I’d ever heard before.”

Farmer was on this year’s panel alongside Vanessa Markov from Black Lamb Artist Management, John Curtis of Peterborough Performs, and Greg Jarvis, a professor in the Music Business Management program.

There were six demos and the genres ranged from indie rock to R&B. Solo artist Evan Croft, Northern Roads, A Victory Marked, Deep Dark Rivers, Critical, and No 2Morrow all put their demos in the derby.

They received constructive feedback from the panelists to help better their sound. Between comments from Farmer about sound issues and feedback from Markov about lyric changes, the judges did not hold back. Farmer went so far as to tell a band he could tell they didn’t record to a metronome. The bands all brought a different sound.

Amos Cutler, singer of heavy rock band No 2Morrow, said their sound is unique because “we all listen to different stuff and bring all of our different influences into the band.”

The unique sounds didn’t end with No 2Morrow though. Indie rock band A Victory Marked is made up of three members and uses a process called backtracking to fill in the gaps. The band performs live with guitars, vocals, and drums and fills in the rest using computer generated sounds.

“We backtrack instruments live to keep a tighter sound,” said instrumentalist Kyle Clarke. The band received feedback to try the song on electric not acoustic guitar.

Each band and artist received individual feedback cards written by the four judges and had time to meet with the professionals after the event. They told stories from the industry and encouraged the artists to keep owning their sound.

Oshawa Music Week is run by the Music Business Management program at Durham College and features many events that celebrate Durham’s “rich music culture.” It is an annual event for the program and a lot of hard work and time goes into making it happen.