With all of the resources and social networking available for young musicians, it's becoming increasingly easier for talent to get listeners to know their name. But what separates somebody from a pack that's now larger than ever? Five members of GRAMMY® Camp 2011's Vocalist track came to spend some time with myself and my journalist peer Alexandria Kern, delivering feedback on their experience so far along with their thoughts on breaking into the business.
Alexandrea Kern: How have you guys grown as a group together?
Danny Wirick: We've connected and have been really close…
Austin Zudeck: Because we're all very like-minded people we all are striving for the same goals: getting signed, making records…
Kashish Shamsi: But we all have our own uniqueness in our voices, and we all kind of feed off of each other.
AK: Do you guys write your own music or collaborate with any of the combos here?
AZ: I'm sure a majority of us write music.
DW: I actually started writing music after GRAMMY Camp® last year. I've done a few collaborations, and this year I want to collaborate with some singer/songwriters and also some combos.
AK: What inspired all of you to be vocalists?
Brandon Martinez: It's always been the number one thing in my life, something that I've been good at. So it's what I picked.
KS: One day I watched Michael Jackson perform, and I said, "That's it. That's what I want to do." I want to make people smile and be happy.
DW: For me, music is something I've always been able to relate with, and feeling the connection between the audience and myself is spectacular.
AZ: After my first concert, I looked up at the crowd and thought: "The way they made those people smile is the way I want to make people smile." So, I felt like, if I can change one person's day and do it with something that I love, then why not?
Maija Pinkins: Singing has gotten me through a lot in my life. My mom's a singer, so after watching all of the stuff that she's done and been in, she's just inspired me to do a lot, and gotten me through it all.
Ben LoPiccolo: Do you guys all plan to make being a singer your career?
AZ: 195 percent yes!
BL: How do you feel about the record industry at the moment? Do you think you'll have difficulty selling records?
AZ: Realistically, it's at a down point. Records are at an all-time low; it's digital media that's taken over. So right now, I think we would all agree the live aspect in music is what's making the money. But I don't think any of us are really about the money, we're about the music.
BL: Do you have any special plans to get your name out there? Maybe something besides traditional media?
KS: In college, I really want to get a education and network throughout.
AZ: (singing) Education is important!!!
DW: Next year, I'm fortunate enough to be studying music at Thornton (at USC). There are so many opportunities that come with living in L.A.; meeting people, networking, and sharing your music around with others.
AK: What's your favorite part about being in this track?
AZ: Mine is the connection with the audience, because we're the vocalists. We get to have an experience with the audience. My favorite part is being able to go up and sing with people, and have them respond back to me physically.
DW: My favorite part with being in the front is that I have very distinct musical ideas in my head that I want conveyed through a band. It's easy for me as a vocalist to direct the band and get the sound that I'm looking for.
MP: When I got here, I met my vocalists, my crew! We just got along so quickly, it's like we just had a vibe and we all clicked. Also, I just love USC and I love GRAMMY Camp because everyone here is so bomb and no one is rude or disrespectful.
AZ: And you can feel it's a wonderful world.
KS: I like the Vocal track because we all jive together. I love performing in front of people; I love having the spotlight shining in my eyes, even if I can't see the audience. I love going crazy; I love waving my hands in the air, and I just love performing.
BL: What's the most important thing to remember as a performer?
AZ: Engage the audience. Make sure the audience is happy.
KS: Love what you're doing. If you don't love what you're doing, get out!
DW: Stay true to what your values are and what your music is. A lot of the industry right now is corrupted and they're trying to make you have a certain sound. As long as you have fans and you know that they love what you're doing, stick with that and in the end it will really pay off.
KS: It's all about loving what you do, and having people watch, and that's basically it!
AZ: Rock on, people!!