Aggie musician standing out in nationwide contest

Source: CVDaily Feed
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LOGAN – Using a white bed sheet and a projector borrowed from his neighbor a few houses down, Joshua Claflin had a makeshift outdoor theater in the backyard of his college apartment a block from Old Main Hill. He invited his friends, told his friends to invite their friends, set out some cookies and hoped for a crowd.

The Utah State University student and Riverton, Utah native was preparing to debut his recently-produced music video, a video he hopes will get him noticed by a major record producer and start his music career. It’s a video set a song he wrote and is currently standing out against thousands of others in a nationwide competition.

Claflin, along with more than 6,000 musicians across the country, recently entered the Singer Songwriter 6 contest. In order to participate, contestants write their own music and submit a music video. The winner gets a four-song EP with record producer RedOne, $25,000, a performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, globally distributed music, professional equipment, and most importantly for Claflin, an open door to his dream – living off the music he produces and shares.

“That’s probably been with me since ninth grade,” he said. “Once I got into a band and started seeing that things were working out, I was like ‘Oh, I could actually do this. People could enjoy what I do.’”

The record producers and contest judges won’t see all the videos submitted, just the ones that get the most attention from views and shares through social media. Claflin’s backyard music video debut was a way to get people sharing the video.

Of the more than 6,000 contest videos, Claflin’s is currently in the top 30.

Before Claflin hit the play button on the projector, he performed a few songs – songs he described as his own version of folk-rock –  on his guitar then described the song and video they were about to watch. He introduced it as a song called “Grandfather”, a song about finally getting to know and spend time his father’s father. Growing up he had minimal interaction with his grandfather, and then, after finally getting to know him, he had to deal with his death. It is those kinds of experiences that serve as the inspiration for most of Claflin’s songs.

“I write what I enjoy,” he said. “All of my writing is basically my journal. The stuff I go through in life, that is what becomes my song.”

After the video ended, but before everyone left, Claflin asked for help. His video, which is uploaded to the contest’s website, gets points for views, shares and other activity. He encouraged his friends to create an account, watch his video and share it with friends. The competition, which last 10 weeks, selects the top 10 videos each week of the competition to advance. By the end of the contest, 100 videos advance to the judges. Right now, even though Claflin is top 30, he isn’t comfortable with where he sits.

“If everybody stayed in the same place the whole time, I’d be fine,” he said. “But people are moving all the time, so we have to get up there.”

From the 100 videos that advance, the judges will choose five finalists from what they view as the best five songs.

“If you get into the top five they send you to L.A.,” Claflin said. “Then you perform for them.”

Claflin has been performing for years, and currently serves as the President of the Independent Music Club on USU’s campus. When he’s not studying or playing shows at WhySound in downtown Logan, he’s assisting with the on-campus music shows and working with up-and-coming local artists to help them get spots performing at local events. He has spent his time in Logan trying to expand what he sees as a talented and underrated music scene in Cache Valley.

It all seems to come naturally to him. When he was in the sixth grade, he started taking bass guitar lessons. After just a few sessions, his teacher assigned him a song that would be practiced together during the next meeting. When the time came, the teacher began demonstrating the song. Claflin quickly spoke up and said it was being played incorrectly. The teacher disagreed until Claflin picked up the bass himself.

“I played it,” Claflin recalled with a laugh. “He left and never came back.”

Since then, his arsenal of instruments has expanded.

“I have a bass, like three guitars, and then a banjo, a mandolin, a Chinese violin, keyboards, and drums,” he said. “And then random little things like melodicas.”

The party was able to produce a couple dozen shares, enough to get a little starting momentum, but it is Claflin’s talent that has carried the video forward. Every time someone has stumbled across his song online and shared it with friends, it has taken him that much closer to where he wants to be.

Claflin’s video can be viewed here.