BY TABITHA REEVES
BY RISHA INAGANTI
Many young musicians dream of being amongst the big names of the modern music industry, though that dream may be harder to accomplish than they initially thought.. Popular bands that started from the bottom and worked their way up to performing at Firefly Music Festival explained their journey to success in the music industry and what lessons they’ve learned in the process.
The first step in this process is coming up with a catchy stage name.
Soulful indie bands like The Brook & The Bluff and The 502s chose their band names based on where they grew up or where they began creating music together. Other groups, however, chose a title with a more complex, but equally meaningful, background.
Charity Thielen, violinist and vocalist for The Head and The Heart, spoke about the band’s history and how each member resonated with the band’s name. She explained that the suggestion came from their former vocalist, Josiah Johnson, during a period of his life when he could not decide whether to pursue music or his college degree.
“[Life] is just such a push and pull of the head and the heart,” Thielen said. “It resonated with all of us.”
She went on to express her own dilemma, parallel to Johnson’s, in which she was not sure if it would be best to continue her studies or devote all her time to The Head and The Heart. In the end, Thielen followed her heart and her passion for a musical career won.
The electronic pop duo, Ship Wrek, took an entirely different route in deciding their name. Collin Maguire took inspiration for his band name from his time scuba diving as a child. Maguire’s bandmate, Tripp Churchill, said that he agreed because the name was aesthetically pleasing.
After settling on a band name, groups move on to finding a distinctive and recognizable music style. Similar to the process of picking a name, bands have varying approaches.
Lydia Night, lead vocalist for The Regrettes, said she drew inspiration from her favorite band.
“I was very influenced by The 1975,” Night said. “I very heavily leaned into them and am interested to see how they affect our next album too.”
On the other hand, some artists end up producing a completely different style of music than what they personally listen to.
Fred Lankford, bassist for The Brook & The Bluff, pointed out that despite growing up listening to Radiohead, an alternative rock band, he was inclined towards producing folk music.
“My music taste is way, way harder than what we make, which is cool because part of joining the band has been teaching me how to be a better bass player and not just do artwork based off my interests,” Lankford said.
Night and Lankford developed their style with inspiration from other artists but Ed Isola, lead vocalist of The 502s, said that his band’s process of finding a specific sound was much different. The 502s tested out different styles until they found one that stuck.
“It was always just creating things that we wanted to play and going out and playing them and then going back and tweaking them,” Isola said. “Figuring out what caused a reaction from the public and having this really high standard of quality for ourselves have always been big things.”
Regardless of how these musicians discovered their sound, they all eventually found a style that suited them
Although these musical groups have come a long way from where they started, their journey is not over yet. While the process of growing as a musician can be tedious and challenging, these artists seemed to all value persistence.
“As much as you can, put yourself out there,” Night said. “That sounds super vague but it’s everything. Being a nice person, going out into the world, making friends, recording with other artists, going to shows … It’s all so important.”
Guitarist Alec Bolton from The Brook & The Bluff had similar advice in mind. He encouraged up-and-coming artists to network with other musicians in their area and at shows.
“Don’t quit,” John Canada, The Brook & The Bluff’s drummer, said. “You’d be surprised how much you can do on your own.”
He went on to detail how he has found that sentiment to be true when it comes to having “a big break.”
“I think a lot of people sit around and wait for somebody else to make their dream come true,” Canada said. “But nowadays you can make a killer record in your bedroom. You can upload everything on your own. You’re in control of your own career, so believe in yourself.”