Saturday, July 16, 2011

Hip Hop Already A Big Part Of GRAMMY Camp® By Mia Lepp

When applying to GRAMMY Camp® many of the Campers were surprised to find out that hip hop was not a career path to choose considering that rap albums are the second most sold in the U.S. I'd like to see it added for next year's Camp because not only is it a popular style of music, it would also allow more people to have the opportunity to make it into GRAMMY Camp.


While waiting at LAX airport for our ride to Camp, the Bass track's Satarra Troutman was asked to rap with the Keyboard track's Jack Rodenburg, who supplied the beat boxing. Troutman even mentioned how at her dinner table each night they go around the table and rap four bars about their day, everyone from her grandmother to her little brother.


Giovanni Quattrochi, who is in the Electronic Music Production track, shocked everyone with his rhyming skills at the first open mic night. Quattrochi answered whether or not he would be interested in a rapping career track by saying, "I was just thinking actually when I was applying to this Camp my main interest in music is hip hop and that if there was a hip-hop track I probably would of applied for that…I was surprised that they didn't have one since it is such a huge part of the music industry."


Many of the other campers agreed with Quattrochi, like Danny Wirick from the Vocal Performance track. “I think it would be cool. I’m not a rapper myself and I don’t listen to a lot of rap music," Wirick said. "I went to GRAMMY Camp last year and we did a rap last year. We tried to do one this year as well but none of the vocalist could rap. So we definitely have a need for it.”


Almost all the Campers here support the idea of having a rapping career track since many of the Campers perform their original raps at open mic night. Sadly it is not something planned for next year, when asked why this is, the GRAMMY Foundation's Nate Hertweck said, "We don’t offer any genre specific tracks; there are elements of hip hop in every track.”


For Campers interested in rapping and being part of GRAMMY Camp there is more than one track they can apply for that incorporates elements of rap. Those include Electronic Music Production and Audio Engineering and the GRAMMY Foundation's Joe Langford believes those tracks give kids a chance “To produce their own music and rap as well.”


So while hip hop may not be a career track, but it's still a big part of GRAMMY Camp.

Don't Judge A Book By It's Cover By Allie Spice

We have all seen the guy with black clothes, tattoos, and green, spiked hair and you immediately think, "What kind of music do they listen to?" You might guess Mastodon or the Ramones; and then you hear them singing Justin Bieber's "Baby." Just cause they dress a certain way doesn't mean they fit a musical stereotype.

Though most GRAMMY® Campers who were asked questions on the idea of music influencing how people act or dress, believe the two go hand in hand. Songwriting track's Layne Putnam thinks music absolutely affects the way you dress. “Music definitely makes you who you are. You look up to the people you listen to and if they dress a certain way, you want to dress like them," Putnam said. "You want to sound like them and act like them because you look up to them and they play your music.” Music can shape and define who you are and how you act."

Vocal Performance's Brandon Martinez has experienced people's assumptions. "Once, I was going to this party and I was wearing a pair of sweatpants and a sweatshirt. Everyone was giving me this weird look and I went on stage to sing," Martinez recalls. "Afterwards, this guy came up to me and was like, 'Man, I did not expect that from you. When you first walked in here, I didn’t think you spoke a word of English.'" It is very common, when you are in your teenage years, to be stereotyped or judged. You can’t change what people think, but you can stop yourself from judging.

Subconsciously, we all judge people on how they dress, what kind of music they listen to, or maybe even both. Maybe next time you see the guy with tattoos and green hair, you’ll go ask him what kind of music he listens to. And when he says Neil Diamond or Kanye West you won't be so surprised.

Brian London Raises Up GRAMMY Campers By Alexandrea Kern

Music director Brian London came to GRAMMY Camp® Thursday to be work with Campers from the instrumental tracks as part of the guest professional day. Having worked with artists from Lady Gaga to Bruno Mars, London has come a long way in the music industry. He taught about the many responsibilities of a music director, which involves organizing the band, arranging songs, and being able to make quick changes.

London, a keyboardist from North Carolina, grew up classically trained and majored in music theater with a concentration in music at Columbia University. After coming to L.A. at 22 he worked his way up to becoming the keyboardist for Lady Gaga and Rihanna. He told the Campers of what an incredible experience it is working with Gaga. In addition to working with two of the biggest pop stars on the planet he's worked with Aly & AJ Michalka, Salt-n-Pepa, and Katy Perry.

Among his words of wisdom to the Campers was not to let the industry push you back. "A lot of times the music industry will suck the enthusiasm out of you," he told the Campers. "Don't let them take that from you." He also shared what it's like to be on stage in front of thousands of screaming fans. "When you raise your hand, and the audience raises their hands, it's the best feeling you can have," he says.


Nick Jonas Gives Lessons By Allie Spice

Nick Jonas took time from his busy schedule in the studio to come visit with GRAMMY Camp® Thursday. Despite being the same age as some of the Campers, the 18-year-old Jonas used his nine years of experience in the industry to offer a lot of lessons to 12 of the students from both the Electronic Music Production and Songwriter tracks.

"What I have learned over my songwriting career so far if, if you can, soak up as much as you possibly can," Jonas said. He drew upon his own recent activities, including a trip to India for a songwriting camp. He also reaffirmed his love for music and told the Campers how he was evolving into a new place in the business.

He gave a demonstration of that, playing on piano a a new acoustic ballad he had just written a week before. And in offering feedback on demos from three of the Songwriters and answering questions he taught everyone in the room a little bit more about the music world.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Lucas Frank Is A Jack Of All Trades By Mia Lepp

GRAMMY Camp®, held at the USC campus in Los Angeles, is filled with talented Campers from all over the U.S One of them is 17-year-old drummer Lukas Frank, from Santa Monica, California. At the GRAMMY Camp mini-concert held on July 10th he showed everyone how talented he was by playing in two different combos, one being a jazz piece and the other a rock piece. Each time he performed in a combo the faculty would make comments on the drumming by saying, "The drummer did a good job keeping the pace of the song where it should be and not rushing it." The following day I met up with Lukas to interview him and talk about his drumming.


ML: Hi, my name is Mia Lepp, and you are?

Lukas Frank: I’m Lucas Frank, I’m 17, and it’s my first time at GRAMMY Camp.


ML: How do you like it so far?

LF: It's good, I like it. I like the collaboration, the different tracks, and that everyone working here is pretty much in the thick of It In their field. My favorite parts are the collaborations and that's my favorite part about music in general. I think this gives you a good sense about what the real world is like and I’m enjoying my track.


ML: How long have you been playing drums for?

LF: Ten years, but I tell people four.


ML: Why?

Lucas: Ttwo reasons: one, If you say 10 years they are expecting you to sound like 10 years and that's too much pressure on me. Then the other reason Is I don't count the years when I was like seven and taking classes, I had a good teacher and I liked It, I definitely liked It but I wasn't really studying, learning about the instrument. I really got passionate about It when I was 12 or 13.


ML: What is your favorite part about playing the drums?

Lucas: Just the feeling to have like an extension of yourself, just something to hide behind.


ML: Who inspires you when you play the drums? What musicians do you look up to?

Lucas: It depends, in certain situations I'll have different inspirations. If I'm playing a funky tune I'll try and sound like my favorite funk drummer. If I'm playing a jazz standard I'll think about my favorite jazz drummer or whatever. I've never had one, but if it was to be one person who constantly inspired me it would probably be like my dad, my uncle, my grandpa, or something like that.


ML: When you're playing the drums what types of style do you like to play the most?

Lucas: I hop around or I have been hopping around, it used to be jazz. I used to be obsessed and that was like my only thing and then sophomore year I heard John Bonham play and I was like, "Damn, that's cool," so I got back into rock. I get conflicted because you want to be a jack of all trades but you don't want to spread yourself too thin and you want to be a specialist but you also like certain different genres. It's hard to pick and chose but I would say jazz, rock, alternative rock, indie rock, funk, just anything with good musicians who will kick my [butt] and make it fun.


ML: All right well thank you and by the way you were great yesterday.

Lucas: Thank you so much.



Music Journalism Comes Together At CNN By Ben LoPiccolo

Perhaps the most enchanting aspect of GRAMMY Camp® is the fact that the team works together to give students interaction with professionals in the field they aspire to be in -- basically meeting somebody that's currently working your dream job. In the Music Journalism track, we had already met a blogger, a photographer, and a publicist, three knowledgable individuals that gave us a great look at what may lie ahead for us. Today, we ventured to a place that brings all three jobs, and more, together: CNN's Los Angeles headquarters.
Leading us on a tour of CNN's offices was producer and infrequent reporter Denise Quan, who gave us an understanding on how journalism and interviews arrive on-air and online. Our improvisation skills were put to the test at the beginning when Dr. Drew Pinsky stopped to chat; we asked questions that prompted him to share his experience working in the entertainment business alongside his medical career. Later in the tour, a cameraman set up a mock interview with the class that out us in front of the camera after a weeks worth of asking questions.
Walking through the hallways of the building was such a positive experience as an aspiring journalist; not only did I get a good look at some of the possibilities I could encounter as a journalist, being at CNN reaffirmed yet again what a rewarding field it could be.

Steve Slate Engineers A Great Visit At GRAMMY Camp® By Alexandrea Kern

Steve Slate is a well-known music producer, engineer, and songwriter in the Music and Recording Industry. Working with artists from Taylor Swift to Train, he has become a popular name among the industry. Slate, who designed Pro Audio lines such as DRAGON, an award-winning dynamic processor, came Thursday during our guest professional day to visit with the Audio Engineering track and talk to some of the students about his career.

His career first started when he was the same age as many of the Campers, doing internships at recording studios getting coffee. Eventually, he worked his way up from there to where he is today. "The first thing you do, you are literally the gofer. That's what you do when you start up in this industry," Slate told the group. He learned most of what he knows by working at other studios and just observing. Being in college as well helped him picked up more knowledge about audio engineering.

His big "ah ha" moment was when he listened to the Nirvana Nevermind record. " I was fascinated by the sound of quality of that, I overlooked the music for a second, I didn't hear it as just a musical experience I heard it as a oral experience." From then on, he became interested in the recording field of the music industry.

"It's so exciting to see all these young people who are interested in one of my favorite things which is music and recording music and making music," Slate said when asked about his initial reactions on GRAMMY Camp®. "What's also fun about it is, its a completely different generation and this generation has different opportunities and different tools that I didn't have. Its cool to see how that changes things."

Students Views On The Changing Music Industry By Ben LoPiccolo

It's no secret that the music business has been changing at a much more rapid pace than ever. Record sales have waned away from their all-time high in the early aughts, and companies and artists have expressed difficulty accommodating to new customs. However, while GRAMMY Campers understand the challenge of a constant shift, they've learned to be versatile enough to start off in the trying industry. I sat down with students from different tracks throughout the week to get their takes on how they were feeling.


"Realistically, [the record business] is at a down point," Vocalist Austin Zudeck acknowledged. "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."


Zudeck's philosophy was shared with the other Vocalists in his track, who all stressed the importance of networking for a stable career, especially when instituting a name for themselves. Their positive attitudes have paid off during the week; each Camper has gotten involved in multiple projects in collaboration with others. Danny Wirick, also an incoming USC Thornton freshman, urged his peers to stay true to their values after they become established.


"A lot of the industry right now is corrupted and they're trying to make you have a certain sound," he began. "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."


Songwriter Elise Go, who I met with later, was mutual with Wirick's thought. She questioned the sincerity of some mainstream artists, and pointed out the importance of staying unique in order to succeed with fans not spending as much on records. Go's track mate, Victoria Pritchard, says that she plans to release her music on a major label, but will work to make sure the business does not hinder her creative voice in the writing process.


To get a perspective from an instrumentalist, I asked Keyboardist Evan Rees his opinion on the industry. "I think it's exciting because it's changing," he started. Rees went on to elaborate on his "new school" views, citing social networking as an essential tool along with performing live -- his forte from a strong jazz background -- to get other musicians to know his name.


Perhaps the most eye-opening experience on the subject came with the Camp-wide entrepreneurial panel. "We are currently preparing students for jobs that don't exist using technology that hasn't been invented," speculated GRAMMY Foundation Senior VP Kristen Madsen. The night offered thoughts from individuals both relatively new to the industry and experienced veterans, including Virgin Records co-founder and former EMI Marketing President Phil Quartararo who presented a very simple, yet provocative comment.


"The record industry is heading towards the coffin," he admitted. "But the music business is about to be bigger than it's ever been."


GRAMMY Campers Get A Taste Of Journalism Life By Ryley Mueller

GRAMMY Camp® L.A. was excited to host a master panel consisting of multi-platinum producer Mike Elizondo, artist Greyson Chance, and singer/songwriter/producer Nick Jonas. The room was full of GRAMMYCamp staff, faculty and Campers awaiting the words of these guest professionals. Campers got a taste of the media with outlets covering the event such as Fox, Buzznet, Cambio, Us Weekly, and Rolling Stone.

The panel was open to the audience for questions, which many GRAMMY Camp students participated in. Campers asked Elizondo, Chance, and Jonas questions ranging from the start of their music careers to their biggest fear within the industry.

Chance was very well spoken and humorous, commenting on, among other things, his new album, Hold On 'Til The Night, being released on August 2nd on Interscope Records. He reflected on the start of his career, his goals for his future, and his unusual discovery on You Tube.

"I think you have a passion for something when you're young, especially in your teen years and I think it's always there. Whether you choose to take that path or you don't, I still think [the passion] is always there," Chance said.

During the panel, Jonas discussed his recent projects within the music industry, his band Nick Jonas & The Administration, starring on Broadway, and producing for other musicians.

"Now that I've started writing and producing for other people, my main focus is taking a concept, whatever that concept is and making it into a full song and basically having another writer or producer come in and attack it. I take the experiences I have writing for myself and put that into writing for other people," Jonas said.

Elizondo expressed his appreciation for GRAMMY Camp and talked about how he made his way into the music industry. He gave advice for students who want to pursue music, anyone interested in producing for artists, and how social media has influenced the business today.

"I think as far as the interaction with the fans, being able to shoot a message about what they're doing in the studio, it generates that excitement for the audience and makes them feel like it’s part of the process and hopefully generates excitement for the record," Elizondo said.

After the panel concluded, Music Journalism students got the opportunity to stay and interview the guests. With media lined up waiting to get their chance, GRAMMY Campers practiced their interviewing skills and get a taste of journalist life. For some Campers, this was their biggest experience dealing with pop culture, the media, and the people involved in the music industry. Students were left with an education from experienced professionals and an amazing experience.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mike Elizondo: Inside the Mind of One of Music's Most Versatile Figures By Ben LoPiccolo

50 Cent, Fiona Apple and Avenged Sevenfold -- certainly not artists that would normally be grouped together, but for producer and songwriter Mike Elizondo, working with any of the three is always a possibility. He stopped by GRAMMY Camp® for today's guest professional panel to share some useful advice gathered throughout his career, telling stories and answering questions from Campers.


While plenty of guests had spoken during the week about their work with many different artists, Elizondo was the first who had worked with such an eclectic mix in the creative perspective.


"I have a pretty short attention span, so if I only did one style of music I would get bored," he explained. "You've got to be versatile enough to try different things."


Continuing throughout the panel, Elizondo mentioned that for each Camper, being flexible is the most important trait to have in order to excel in the industry. After speaking about the broad range of genres he had worked in, he described that his philosophy while working is to be someone that takes an artist to places they haven't been before, and to evolve along with them. For someone that started as a session bassist, production was not something that he expected to be skillful with, but after a lucky break with Dr. Dre and Bono he was able to explore his unknown talent. "Keep an open mind," Elizondo began. "There may be some other areas in music you may not even know exist, but that you may actually excel at."

Seeing Music Day And Night By Mia Lepp

After five days of waiting for the GRAMMY Camp firld trip, with students wondering such things as, "Does anyone know where we're going?" and "I wonder if we'll see anyone famous?" the day finally arrived. The exodus off the USC campus into L.A. began with the Campers being split into three different groups; one going to the GRAMMY Museum, one to the Village Recording studio, and one to the headquarters of IMAX.



As my group arrived to the GRAMMY Museum we were greeted by a huge vibrant and modern mural on the right wall that showed different popular places in L.A. We split up and started looking around on the fourth floor, where the first thing I saw were actual GRAMMY Awards. Further back on the fourth floor I saw the paper where the lyrics to some of the Beatles songs were originally written. Also on display were clothes worn by members of the Beatles and their guitars. Electronic Music Production's Mia Lalanne, who is a Beatles fan, said, "I'm a fan of the Beatles even more now that I see really what John Lennon behind and I think it is great to have a place like this to honor his work over the years."



Throughout the GRAMMY Museum there were areas where we could "play" the drums or the keyboard, remix original songs like Roy Orbison's "Beautiful Girls," or use "The Amazing Talking Machine," where you could talk into it and it would play back what you said.

The third floor, where they had outfits from stars like Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, and Rihanna, was a favorite of many Campers. The Trombone track's Jonathan Huggins said, "My favorite part of the GRAMMY Museum has been seeing all of Michael Jackson's clothes." Vocal Performance's Maija Pinkins agreed. "My favorite part of the GRAMMY Museum has been seeing all the clothes." Before leaving the third floor we saw an area of the Museum dedicated to the Latin GRAMMY Awards, where they had a video playing from past years as well as one of Celia Cruz's outfits.



After the GRAMMY Museum we went to Club Nokia, where we got to the dressing rooms as well as go on the stage. There were already GRAMMY Campers who were singing and dancing on stage. Pinkins stated with excitement, "Club Nokia is so bomb and big and I hope one day I will make a show here and sell it out." She was not the only Camper who expressed these hopes.




During this time another group of Campers were at the Santa Monica, California headquarters of IMAX, where they saw trailers for movies about Michael Jackson's life and the Rolling Stones and also a six-minute clip put together from the Dark Knight movie. Songwriter student Vikki Pritchard mentioned, "It was so cool and my favorite was the one about Michael Jackson."




Another group of Campers went to the Village Recording studio, where they walked around and saw all records on the wall from the likes of Lady Gaga, Steely Dan, Bob Dylan, and more.




The three groups reunited at the Recording Academy and then went to the Grove shopping center together for dinner and free time. We got the chance to compare notes and through this field trip we discovered different parts of the music careers, like how legacies live on as well, as what to do to start your music career, and then end the day by seeing just how beautiful L.A. is at night time.





Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Social Networking At GRAMMY Camp® By Alexandrea Kern

Social media has played a huge role in the music industry with social networks such as Facebook and Twitter having helped with the discovery and promotion of many unsigned artists and "gem" bands, as well as the advertisement of current signed artists.

During the Tuesday night panel, "Above The Noise," Campers got a first-hand lesson in the importance of social media and networking. The guest panelists included You Tube sensation VanJess, videographer Levi Maestro, Tatiana Simonian, Community Manager for the Disney Music Group, the Recording Academy's own Jaime Sarachit, and many more. All the panelists were living examples of how social media helped them make it to where they are today. For example, VanJess used You Tube to show their singing and songwriting skills, which have made them an internet sensation and closer to their dreams of a record label.

Campers were broken up into nine groups to work with the panelists on how to improve the media outlets musicians use. The group of campers that worked with Levi Maestro thought of ways to improve the outdated Myspace. The recent investment of $35 Million dollars into Myspace by a group including Justin Timberlake has sparked an interest in the forgotten about website. The group discussed ideas such as "improving the functionality" as well as having "free downloads" for users.

Other groups were given a prompt about a situation that could happen in the social media world and how it could be solved. One group discussed Steve Jobs shutting down iTunes because he was "tired of making money" (which is highly unlikely) and how they could create a new music downloader. They came up with the idea iTunes Indie. A music downloader where artists could put there music on for free even if you're unsigned. "We would promote on social platforms like Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Myspace, and blogs" said one of the group speakers, Tanner Grandstaff, of the Electronic Music Production track. "We would make partnerships with Pandora too." Though some of the events are a little unreal, it was a good exercise for the Campers to think of ways to help the music industry and maybe even their own career.

The Vocalists Sing Out By Alexandrea Kern And Ben LoPiccolo



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?


Unanimous: Absolutely.


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?


Unanimous: Networking!


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!!


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bria Kelly Is A One-Woman Band By Alexandrea Kern

When you first look at 15-year-old Bria Kelly, you see a petite blue-eyed girl. But after hearing this Virginia native sing, you would've considered the quote "Don't judge a book by it's cover" to be relevant. Bria, came to GRAMMY Camp® on the Songwriter track, writing what she calls, "Country love songs."

Though she is classically trained, soul is her strong point and she enjoys singing country. "In third grade at a chorus concert, my chorus teacher forced me to sing a song," she says after being asked about when her singing career began. "I didn't really want to, but I ended up doing it and from then on I was like, 'Oh I can sing!" Throughout the course of the week, Bria has surprised everyone with her multi-talents. From guitar and bass to drums and keys, she's a one woman band. "I learned guitar four years ago, drums about a year ago, I recently picked bass up about maybe six months ago, and I got a ukulele last month."

Check out Bria's versatile skills in the video below.
video

The Craziest Two Hours By Allie Spice

What can you do in two hours? Twelve talented songwriters wrote a song in that small time allotted to them. At GRAMMY Camp® this year, the songwriters were used as guinea pigs, so to say, and had to try something that was never done before at Camp. Each writer was paired up with either one or two other writers and were given the challenging task of writing the lyrics and music of an original composition, based off of another song.

GRAMMY Camp has never tried this unique technique of songwriting and each student took it in stride and did a fantastic job. They had only known their partners for a day and wrote with such emotion. Each song flowed in a way that seemed like the partners had known each other for much longer than they actually did. The new songs were responses to commonly known songs that had won a GRAMMY in the past. Chris Sampson, the instructor for the songwriting track, called this exercise, "Filling an old bottle with new wine." That meaning: take something from another song and then make it your own. Each of these students did that, but spun it on it's head. If you listened to the original songs and then the responses, you could really understand that they were meant to be a pairing.

"I think the hardest thing was having to fit the stylistic element of the song. My group had the Motown song and so we had to get the groove and everything, and that was difficult because we all have different styles and when we were writing, our styles would sort of bleed into what we were writing and it was a really cool experience," Camper John Nichols said. In every new song that was played by the songwriters, their own styles would definitely show in the song.

When asking the Campers what they thought of the short and mind-blowing process, the responses were as such, like from Elise Go. "Yeah, of course. It was different, but totally worth it," and,"No doubt. Yes I would do it again." This just shows that even in a difficult and different situations, these teenagers still loved it and would repeat the process. Do we know what GRAMMY Camp will do next with their Campers?

GRAMMY® Camp's Creativity Panel Inspires and Surprises By Ben LoPiccolo


"What is creativity?" began Tom Sturges at the start of GRAMMY® Camp's creativity panel, held at the Carson Soundstage at USC's Thornton School of Music. Joining the head of Creative Publishing for Universal Music was Lamont Dozier, partly responsible for shaping Motown's iconic sound and penning an incredible 64 number one hits, and Candice Nelson, one-fifth of songwriting/production collective The Clutch, recently most recognizable for working with artists such as Britney Spears and Mary J. Blige. For the next two hours, the panel offered some valuable insight to campers regarding the creative process in writing and presenting an admirable finished product.

Throughout the session, one point that was stressed the most was the endless amount of possibilities there are to start the flow of a new song. Sturges introduced several thinking exercises, ("What is ____," "10 things to do with a _____") while Dozier inspired the group with his views on being a conscious listener. Talking about "eavesdropping on the world," he revealed that his "Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch" hook actually came from memories of his flirtatious grandfather talking to young women outside of his family's beauty shop. Nelson added to the conversation with her experiences on collaborating with artists of differing genres, stating that she prefers to immerse herself in the type of music for a few days before she begins to write. Having different perspectives on many types of situations turned out to be especially helpful to each student, seeing as multiple styles of work ethic had already become clear in the first three days of Camp.

From that point, the panel was open to Camper questions, a good deal regarding the difficulties that being creative poses. "There's no such thing as writer's block, that just means you're lazy!" Dozier joked during a response. "I may take a break, but the song will stay in the back of my mind, and I'm always working." The comment aroused a few laughs, but his staunch philosophy proved to have paid off -- the charts don't lie! "If you're going to be creative, you've gotta hear what's out there," Mr. Sturges continued, revisiting Lamont's theory. "We're not just talking about songwriters or symphonists, we're talking about any creative field."

As if the three visitors' input wasn't enough, Sturges introduced a surprising twist: his two colleagues would take to the piano and craft a song for the entire Camp to listen. After some student involvement, a collective decision was made for the tune to, in theory, be written as a duet for Beyonce and Ray Charles. Dozier immediately began plinking chords while Nelson hummed on top, quickly creating a melody while their audience watched in awe. Minutes later, lyrics began to surface, the two trading off lovelorn lines that eventually arrived at an infectious, soul-drenched hook. "Lonely since you've been gone / Please come home," they crooned, playing their last note to a standing ovation. Ending the night with some industry insider hints from Sturges, the panel left each Camper inspired and ready to begin the composition of their own original songs the next day.

Waking Up With KTLA Morning News By Ryley Mueller









Waking up at four a.m. is not how I usually like to start my day, but this morning I was given the opportunity to be featured on "KTLA Morning News" along with my fellow Music Journalists; Alexandrea Kern, Mia Lepp, Allison Spice, and Ben LoPiccolo. We all traveled to Carson Hall to film the third segment KTLA has aired about the GRAMMY Camp® program.


Students, staff, and KTLA broadcasters and electronic technicians gathered to capture the Campers in the most real state of mind. I had no idea what to expect but I was ready to be myself and speak about my experiences thus far.


The band, Lena Stein and Luke Niccoli of the Songwriter track, Bass' Satarra Troutman, Keyboard's Evan Rees, and Guitar's Ben Glasser, started playing a catchy country-pop song, "Summer Love," that, despite the early hour, sounded well rehearsed and soon the band had the room full of their rich sound.


I was primarily taking photos and video of the band while the other Journalists interviewed, took notes, and recorded the event. I was able to get up front shots of Stein and Niccoli, and film some video of the band. I was truly impressed by the talent they all displayed.


KTLA highlighted the Audio Engineers, as well. It was really cool to be able to show the world (or the greater LA area) this amazing Camp. Allie MacKay, a reporter for KTLA, talked to us about our skills, what we love about GRAMMY Camp and how we work with musicians.


I have always been interested in the broadcasting portion of journalism, so for me to actually be on the news was very exciting.