Blue Hawk Records Soars Higher

Students of Blue Hawk Records (BHR) changed the selection process in preparation for their fourth compilation EP for the fall semester, allowing a mixture of artists on the record. Members of Blue Hawk Records Applied Industry III class held open auditions on Wednesday, Sept. 24.

“This year, we changed the process entirely by having open auditions to not only the rest of the department outside the class, but to the entire University as well. Musicians or artists could email BHR to reserve their audition slot to come perform their song in front of a panel of judges,” said Mike Burke, president of BHR. The songs performed during auditions were judged based on completeness of composition and overall musical appeal. For predominately electronic pieces, there was an opportunity to submit audio files rather than performing.

Open auditions enabled the student organization to grow not only in size, but also in musical talent and variety. “The Blue Hawk CD is not at all exclusive to BHR members. Looking at it from a business standpoint, that would be dramatically limiting our talent pool and our audience,” Burke said. He pointed out that interest in the auditions was strong, giving members of BHR a challenging decision to make.

“It was a tough decision for the judges, but they eventually managed to come to a consensus,” said Dave DePaola, head of BHR public relations. Among the judges were Burke, Professor Joe Rapolla and Professor George Wurzbach of the music department. The remaining judges were students currently active in BHR.

The album for this semester will feature Ice House Gallery, Joey Affatato, JKC, Joe Sullivan and Dan Robinson, and Jessica Leigh. Among the artists chosen, Sullivan and Robinson were new to the department. Robinson noted, “At first we were intimidated by the theater and people around us, but it turned into excitement when we started playing. Overall, it boosted our confidence and it was a great experience.”

DePaola explained that each artist had something different to offer. “The genres of music that are featured on the BHR compilations range significantly. There are rock bands, rappers, solo acoustic artists, and everything in between,” DePaola said.

In recent years, the artists for the Blue Hawk Record CD’s were selected from the Applied Music Industry classes, a required part of the curriculum for Music Industry. The classes would choose their most desired songs by select artists and record them at Lake House Studios in Asbury Park.

Erik Romero, producer and engineer at Lake House Studios, worked with the students on their last compilation. Romero said that he enjoyed collaborating with the students and looks forward to using a variety of equipment for the new album. “[…]maybe in the future we can venture into analog recordings with Blue Hawk and take advantage of Lakehouse’s Ampex 1971 mm1200 2″ tape machine!” Romero enthused.

Now that the artists have been selected, pre-production is underway and will lead to the recording of their fourth album at Lake House Studios. “Lakehouse has had a great relationship with the Monmouth Music Department since 2012. It just made sense,” Romero added.

On past compilations, the students connected with local sources to complete all aspects of the albums including recording, mastering tracks, designing cover art, pressing CD’s, and releasing the music digitally. The sources involved were Lake House Studios, Asbury Media, Bands on a Budget, and TuneCore. Based on demand, there were 100 CD’s pressed per release. The tracks were also accessible digitally through iTunes. “Since the CDs are more EPs [Extended Plays, more than a single but less than a full album], we don’t charge the $10-15 expected, usually $5-7 depending on the track number. Digitally the tracks are $0.99, and the album is that times however many songs,” Burke said.

BHR members are enthusiastic about the changes taking place since their first release in the spring of 2013. “I’m really excited for the new CD release!” DePaola said. “I think the efficiency of the BHR team is definitely improving, as well as the team’s ability to market the album to the student population.” BHR will be promoting the new album with a charity event at the Inkwell Coffee House on Nov. 13 and can be heard throughout the semester on 88.9 WMCX. In addition, BHR will hold a record release show in early Dec. featuring the artists’ full sets.

With the inclusion of new artists, BHR continues to expand. Leaders of the organization express satisfaction with the progression of the new album. “I think the best part about Blue Hawk Records releasing this particular album is the fact that it was so open to the entire student population. It not only lets us get a whole new cast of artists for our record, but it also allows us to market the album to the student population in a much more efficient and effective way. It definitely lets more people on campus know that we exist and that we’re doing some really cool stuff.” DePaola said.