Posted March 5, 2015 by Cooper Point Journal in Arts & Entertainment
 
 

You and Me on a CD: The Evergreen Media Project



By Zach Newman

For 35 years, students at Evergreen have been documenting the unique music and art they have been making on the annual Evergreen Student Media Project (ESMP.) Run by students with guidance by faculty, the ESMP highlights student talent while also showcasing Evergreen’s media programs and equipment. “It gives students the chance to put something out in the world, on actual CDs,” media intern Patrick LaBahn said. Patrick, along with Kevin Dutton are this year’s media interns. “It’s a cool representation of what we do. It shows the world what our school has,” Kevin said.

Started in 1980 by media faculty Peter Randlette, who still oversees audio recording and production classes today, the project puts completely student-crafted songs on vinyl to showcase both talent and technique. “Designed to reflect the quality and diversity of the music being made here, the project also indicates some of the educational philosophies and opportunities at this new and innovative school,” Randlette wrote on the back of the first album in 1980.

The project kept up with the times, phasing out the more expensive vinyl records to produce CDs in 1987, and since 2012 comes included with a USB drive for even more songs and visual art. Throughout, the project has documented the music of some of Evergreen’s more famed alum. Record producer Steve Fisk has a song with Randlette on the first album, while Sub Pop founder Bruce Pavitt and K Records artist Mirah appear on later albums.   

Having been recorded for the project last year, I couldn’t wait to try to get on it again. The ESMP was advertised in all audio recording classes, and I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of.

The board, which was Kevin, Patrick, myself, and a handful of other students, was tasked with narrowing down submissions. Board members aren’t just allowed, they’re encouraged to submit their music. I decided to go with something easy: a by the numbers feel-good-but-still-I’m-sensitive indie rock hit with only the slightest Modest Mouse lift. I figured that others would submit similar songs, but I was wrong. We listened to long psychedelic jams, ukulele fueled love songs, slick rap songs, folk music and even dubstep.

If the lyrics were in anyway red-flag raising, we really thought if we wanted our school represented that way. Misogyny in rap used to be commonplace, but times have changed, and now it just sounds tacky. I listened for hooks and something to grab to. There were a couple of songs that were mellow, very mellow, but nonetheless didn’t go anywhere. Most importantly though, could the song be reproduced in a studio?

If a song really excited us, we wrote it down and then compiled the songs chosen into a short list. The list was then passed on to students in advanced audio recording classes. My song made it and I was set to record in the 16-track studio in the Comm building. With friends backing me, I recorded my song in five hours. The recording console used wasn’t a cheap Tascam lo-fi recorder—it was a Neve console, the same kind of console used to record Neil Young and Fleetwood Mac albums, and the same console Dave Grohl spent two hours gushing over in his 2013 movie, Sound City. For its reputation and warm sound, the Neve is worth every penny of its $38,000 price tag.

That’s an impressive number, and while Evergreen faces dire budgetary concern, the ESMP shows that that kind of funding is necessary. While the voting has passed and the CD is filled, we still have a USB to fill, and we need more art submissions, as well as a cover. To submit works to the ESMP, go to blogs.evergreen.edu/ESMP and find the submit page.