Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Thursday, September 20, 2018

AU’s Second District Records to release new album by end of fall semester

The EP features new and returning artists, ranging from urban to alternative

AU’s Second District Records to release new album by end of fall semester

Juniors Skylar Tucker and Jackie Young prepare their second EP, "District 17," in the Kreeger recording studio. 

Second District Records, the first student organization running a record label in the DMV-area, plans to release “District 17” on Soundcloud by the end of fall semester, SDR president Skylar Tucker said.

The EP is a follow-up to “District 16,” the student organization’s first album, featuring new and returning local artists ranging from R&B to indie rock and punk rock, Tucker said. Singles from the EP may also be released as teasers of the album’s release date, she said.

Although the D.C. music scene is hidden from mainstream audiences, it’s brimming with more than 40 years of eclectic and original artists, Tucker said.

Tucker, a junior studying business and entertainment in the Kogod School of Business, hopes Second District Records will help DMV residents become more aware of the underrepresented music community in the area. 

“People don’t realize that D.C. is a music city,” Tucker said. “Our goal is to highlight DMV artists. They have a specific sound which doesn’t sound like New York ─ and definitely doesn’t sound like Atlanta.”

That sound, ranging from soul and hip-hop to “dreamy” indie rock and punk rock, is being produced by many of the SDR’s artists, Jackie Young, a junior in the Kogod School of Business, said. Second District Records is a student organization producing music 24/7 out of the University’s Kreeger recording studio, Young said.

Young, one of the directors of editing and mixing, said the EP will have an A/B side, with the A side having the urban sounds the label is slowly becoming known for. On the B side, the EP will have newer artists from the alternative genre, or artists with more of an indie sound. Young said punk, heavy metal or rock falls under alternative music for the student organization.

But while alternative music is new to the label, it’s not a new recording experience for Young.

“A punk band put on a show in the Kay Spiritual Center during my freshman year,” Young said. “I recorded that show. Punk is up and coming right now in D.C. You don’t always see the music that is happening in D.C., but it’s there.”

Public Relations director and AU junior Samad Arouna said the club wants to expand its sound to appease the community.

“People are tired of hearing one type of music ─ that’s where alternative falls in,” Arouna said. “Our club is pretty secretive, but we don’t want that anymore. We want a more diverse staff so that’s why we are releasing hip-hop and alternative music.”

Tucker said mastering the music in the recording studio is one part of the record producing process. She also said SDR scouts for talent through word of mouth or by scouring online for potential artists.

Arouna said that balancing a cohesive product is paramount for SDR.

“We want our flagship music ─ the urban A-side ─ to correspond with our newer alternative music on our B-side,” he said. “We spend our money on mastering in the studio so that we have a cohesive record.”

But the process for finding new artists, releasing a record and even joining the club takes time, Young said.

“AU students need to go through several technical classes before they can start to edit and master music,” Young said. “And early planning is very important to book space in the studio. Before 30 days of a recording session should be fine, but once it’s getting close [to a session], it’s hard to book space in Kreeger.” 

SDR’s staff has a well-rounded group of people from different stages in academia. Arouna said about 30 student staff members help with the entire record producing process, from finding new artists outside of AU’s campus to editing in the studio.

Faculty advisor John Simson, Kogod’s program director for the business and entertainment program, oversees their work and sometimes sends students to them.

“If students reach out to me, I introduce them to the students who are currently running the label,” Simson said. “If an artist reached out to me, I would certainly be open to passing their information along if that is what they wanted.”

Arouna said the directors step away to avoid dictating to staff members or other directors what to do.

“As department heads we shouldn’t bind ourselves to our own ideas,” Arouna said. “We listen to each other and hear what club members have to say.”

Arouna also said they are working on a social media strategy, but it’s hard to come up with an unanimous plan.

“We’re listening to everything first to see what visuals goes with it. But we may release a few singles first as teasers on social media,” Arouna said. “We already have a Facebook account, but it’s hard to come up with what to do with Instagram because each band has different preferences as to how they want to be promoted, so we need to figure out a way to do that too.”

For right now, SDR is putting out digital music representing the DMV sound, Tucker said. With more funding, that could change.

“We offer artists free studio time and in return we get the learning experience with producing music and managing artists,” she said. “We’ve applied for funding from the University but haven’t received anything. We’re working on it by continuing to apply for more funding.”

Arouna said that while it’s good to have lots of student organizations, it’s “feast or famine” when trying to get funding from the University. Fundraising is used as a way to support mastering their records, the final stage before music is released, he said.

Other financial sources support the SDR efforts. Young said federal work study students oversee the microphone recordings, such as when rap artists stop by to record.

The directors at SDR, such as Tucker, Young and Arouna, are always looking for ways to expand and improve their label.

“Once we have the money, we want to put out physical music, too, that also expands outside the DMV area,” Tucker said. “That could include go-go music.”

Editor’s note: Samad Arouna is a staff photographer for The Eagle.

sdolezal@theeagleonline.com

This story was originally published in the Oct. 20 print edition of The Eagle.


Never miss a story.

Get our weekly newsletter in your inbox.