By Neale McDevitt
[Editor’s Note: Since this article was first posted, Busty and the Bass have reached the semi finals of the Rock Your Campus contest. More than ever, the band needs your votes before Oct. 24, to make it to the finals. Go here to get more information.]
Busty and the Bass need your love.
No, the Reporter hasn’t started to include content of a more adult nature on its website. The Busty in question is, in fact, a nine-member electrofunk band comprised entirely of products of the Jazz Performance program at the Schulich School of Music. And the love they need is votes.
The band has qualified for CBC Music’s Rock Your Campus contest, a nationwide talent contest that is looking to discover the “next big campus music act.” Open to anyone enrolled at a Canadian university, the winner will receive, among other things, a $10,000 grand prize and a concert performance on campus paid for and produced by the CBC.
Who wins? The band with the most votes.
Who votes? You can! Once a day, maximum, but as many days as you want. The deal is, time is running out. Voting to determine the finalists ends on Thursday, Oct. 16, at 11:59 p.m. To cast your vote right away, go here and click on the blue button halfway down the page that says “Vote For This Artist.”
“Playing a big concert at McGill would be huge,” says Milo Johnson, Busty’s bassist. “We’ve been the closing act at the Open Air Pub the past two years, so we’ve played on campus before. But this would be incredible.”
The band’s McGill connections run deep, formed some three years ago soon after a group of music freshmen met during Frosh. Today, eight members are in their final year in Jazz Performance with the ninth, alto player and lead singer Nick Ferraro, having graduated from the program last year.
“The great thing about the band is that everyone comes from such different backgrounds,” says Johnson “For example, our lead singer and alto player comes from pop; one of our piano player is very much jazz and the other piano player comes from a hip-hop background. And you can hear it all in our music.”
On the contest website, the band lists 10 musical influences ranging from Stevie Wonder and Tower of Power to Dr. Dre and Dirty Loops. “But our musical taste is so diverse we had to shorten the list substantially,” says Johnson.
Unlike a lot of large ensembles, Busty’s creative process is extremely collaborative and songwriting, so often thought of as a solitary endeavour, requires the equal input of all nine members. “We use an analogy of a canvas. Someone brings in a canvas and a sketch and then slowly we develop the borders and everyone shades in and colours their specific part,” says Johnson. “We are developing that process as we go along because there’s no definitive guide on collectively writing a song with nine equally contributing members.
“As you can probably imagine, it can be very complicated and complex.”
But the collaboration is worth it. Busty’s entry in the Rock Your Campus contest, Tryna Find Myself (you can watch the video at the end of this article), is a high-energy blend of brass, keys, synths and vocals that will give you the urge to get up and dance. Just ask Principal Suzanne Fortier, who makes a cameo dance appearance in the video – something that was entirely spontaneous and unscripted.
“We were shooting in front of the Arts Building when she happened to walk by on her way to a concert [at the Schulich School of Music],” says Johnson of the chance encounter. “When she came over, I honestly thought we were in trouble and that we weren’t allowed to film there.
“But she was just interested in what we were doing and when we asked her if she wanted to be in the video, she was totally down with the idea.”
The video, shot entirely on McGill’s downtown campus by local production company Landlocked Cinema, also features performers from two McGill dance groups – Urban Groove and the McGill Student Street Dancers.
“Some of the other entries in the contest are bands who happen to have someone going to a particular university, but there is no connection to that university in their video,” says Johnson. “We wanted to shoot a cool music video that put some of the spotlight on McGill too. It’s the Rock Your Campus contest, so we rocked the campus in the video.”
Vote for Busty and the Bass here. Don’t forget, you can vote once a day until Thursday, Oct. 23, at 11:59 p.m.
Go to the band’s website here.
Download Tryna Find Myself for free here.