Thursday, May 14, 2009
IDS Article: South Jordan To Compete for $100,000 Prize at Florida Music Festival
I interviewed South Jordan this week about their invite to play at the annual Florida Music Festival. They are a very cool group of guys who are determined but humble. It was joy speaking with them. I listened to their music via their website southjordanmusic.com and it's very good - and I'm not just saying that because I spoke to them. They have a hint of The Fray and One Republic in them, but they are their own band. I've just become a fan of theirs. Below is the article I wrote.
A little more than a year ago, IU seniors Bobby Campbell and Mike Chan realized they couldn’t sing – not even a little bit.
But with a vast amount of creativity and the ability to play instruments (Campbell plays the piano and guitar and Chan plays the synthesizer), they knew more was needed to fulfill their dreams of starting a band.
In came junior Michael David Hall.
From there, senior Greg Olsten was brought in to play drums and Andrew Moore to play bass.
As Hall talks, he lowers his voice and explains his abhorrence for “Katie,” a fictional girl he regrets meeting who inspired a song from the band’s six-song EP “Only Halfway,” which comes out in July on iTunes and Amazon Music.
The band is set to play Saturday for the final day of the Florida Music Festival, which began Wednesday. The festival takes place in downtown Orlando, Fla., and boasts more than 250 performers ranging in all types of music from heavy rock to hip-hop.
South Jordan was invited to perform by the event’s sponsor, Bonded Records, which will be offering $100,000 to the winning band to go toward recording an album with the label.
Hall said the band could certainly use the money, as much of what it’s earned from playing gigs and winning competitions has gone toward financing the band or to local charities.
But the band’s main focus is not on winning but on entertaining the fans and growing the band.
“It’s all about getting the audience to jump up and down,” Hall said. “We want to see people come up to us after the show and ask us for more info about the band.”
They’ve had to record day and night, many times neglecting their school work. Late night study sessions have been traded in for hours spent working on music in Bloomington’s Farm Fresh Studios. They’ve had to fight through conflicts and the lack of recognition to get to this point.
“It’s hard, trying to get five college schedules to work together to rehearse and go out and do shows,” Campbell said. “We’ve played shows in front of five or six people before, but it’s a part of the learning process. We’re still learning and still trying to grow our fan base.”
In that learning process, Farm Fresh Studios has been their classroom. It’s that studio where they’ve bonded as a band, sometimes spending 12 hours in one session, Hall said.
It’s that ambition that keeps these five students out to show the world that South Jordan is more than just a street in Bloomington. It’s also helped them to grow their fan base, as they already have a following in countries such as Malaysia, Germany and France.
“We have to get on MySpace at least two hours a day responding to messages from fans,” Hall said. “IU helps give us live show experience. It challenges us being hard-core musicians and students at the same time even though we’re not making money. It is a full-time job.”
After they perform in Orlando, they’ll put whatever money they have into trips to Cincinnati and Chicago, where they’ll perform gigs. It’s all in an effort to get their name out there because, as Hall said, “It’s all about the band.”
“We’re very passionate about our music and the end goal is to reach a mass audience,” Hall said. “We want to touch the biggest amount of people we can. We’re not going to sell out. Some people change their sound to get a record company to look at them, but it’s not about changing our sound. It’s about having fun and writing music that means a lot to us.”
While they want to be even more successful, they refuse to compromise who they are as a band for anyone, not even $100,000.
“The most important part is not always the notes I’m singing, but what’s behind the words and people getting the meaning of our songs,” Hall said. “I want to project that on stage.”