Thursday, January 22, 2015

Twelve St. Louis Submissions for NPR's Tiny Desk Contest

Posted By on Thu, Jan 22, 2015 at 4:37 AM

The Tiny Desk Concert series from "All Songs Considered" host Bob Boilen is looking for new talent, and St. Louis is coming out in force. - SCREENSHOT FROM AL HOLLIDAY'S ENTRY.
  • Screenshot from Al Holliday's entry.
  • The Tiny Desk Concert series from "All Songs Considered" host Bob Boilen is looking for new talent, and St. Louis is coming out in force.

Who knew that such an itty-bitty desk could have such a big impact?

The Tiny Desk Concert series on National Public Radio (NPR) has been a hit since it was introduced in 2008. During what is literally a bunch of musicians crowding around All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen's office desk to perform a few tunes, the series has showcased different sides of artists such as T-Pain, Skinny Lister and Yo La Tengo. The virality of favorite concerts via social media has given a surge of popularity to retro acts and millions of potential fans to newer bands.

And a St. Louis act just might be next.

See also: - Six St. Louis Musical Acts to Watch in 2015 - Eight St. Louis Bands to Watch in 2014

Boilen and his NPR cohorts just wrapped a contest to find the next breakout band that will play a Tiny Desk concert. Musical acts from across the nation submitted YouTube videos of themselves performing around a desk (any desk, even two-inch dollhouse ones) between December 2 and January 19, hoping to be considered for NPR's single slot available to unsigned bands. A panel of judges -- including nationally known musicians and producers -- is now reviewing submissions for musical quality and appeal, originality, stage presence and charisma. A winner will be notified around February 6 that they've got a gig in NPR's Washington, D.C., headquarters.

Over the past few days, we've noticed quite a number of St. Louis acts excitedly sharing their Tiny Desk videos through social media. Will one of these homegrown bands get the opportunity to play at "the most famous desk in music?" We'll find out in February. But looking at the twelve excellent videos we've rounded up below (and we're sure there are even more out there -- let us know!), St. Louis has a hell of a shot.

LETTER TO MEMPHIS

Why did you choose this song for your entry? We chose our song "Other Life" because it has a unique kind of energy and explores themes I think a lot of people can relate to. It's a good representation of the strings in our band (all eighteen of them!) and is folky and a little dark, but also driving and urgent. The emotion in the song is strong and we hope that comes through. - Devon Cahill, vocals, ukulele

What would be the best thing about a St. Louis act winning the Tiny Desk contest? St. Louis has an amazing original music scene and yet it's hardly on the map when people think of the great cities for the arts. There really is something special about the music scene in St. Louis, coming from both the roots the city's built on as well as the innovative and original, and it would be great to open people's eyes to that.

What's been your favorite Tiny Desk concert so far and why? It's a toss up. I loved Lucius, the way they found objects in the room to use as percussion instruments. And their harmonies, especially in a bare bones setup the way they were, were breathtaking. I also loved Angel Olsen's set, although I might be a little biased. Just her voice and her electric guitar -- and it was amazing, hauntingly beautiful and inspiring.

Follow Letter to Memphis on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud and ReverbNation.

FLYING HOUSE

Why did you choose this song for your entry? Sometimes it seems like there are sparks floating in the ether around you and you need to reach up and grasp the shiniest one....And you hope that you can shape that spark into something tangible that is more than the sum of its parts: music, lyrics and arrangement! "State of the Union" fell into place fast. The band "got it" even as I was presenting rough drafts! In other words, we like it. It's hot off the press, and we feel it represents us really well! - Jim Ibur, guitar

What would be the best thing about a St. Louis act winning the Tiny Desk contest? I've been a fan of the Tiny Desk concert series since its inception. I am under no illusion about winning this contest, but I would love to see the video posted on NPR's site. St. Louis has always had a great music scene, but it is has been hard for bands to make a go of it here. My own daughters and Jim's nieces, Bella & Lily, are making a run at it right now. I would love to see our city better recognized for its thriving music AND arts community. - Ted Ibur, drums

What's been your favorite Tiny Desk concert so far and why? Redding, California's Wesley Jennings and the Penny Arcade's song "Control." The video is extremely clever and funny. It is set at a faux office space. The four band members are dressed in business attire and are using their desks, staplers, coffee mugs, a container of paperclips, etc. to drive the song. The lead vocalist is playing an old organ and sounds a bit like Brett Dennen. That said, there are a lot of terrific bands from all over the country that entered the contest. - Ted

Follow Flying House on Facebook and at flyinghouseband.com.

MIDDLE CLASS FASHION

Why did you choose this song for your entry? This song, called "Runway", is part of a group of songs we're developing for a new album. We're having fun with the new material, a lot of which is in this synth-based style. - Jenn Malzone, vocals and keyboard

What would be the best thing about a St. Louis act winning the Tiny Desk contest? It would be great to see more St. Louis bands recognized nationally. The Tiny Desk concert series in particular is something I've enjoyed watching, so it would be neat to see one of our friends playing it.

What's been your favorite Tiny Desk concert so far and why? I thought CHVRCHES did an amazing job of bringing their huge sound to the Tiny Desk format. Some other great ones: tUne-yArDs, The xx, Diane Cluck, Angel Olsen.

Follow Middle Class Fashion on Facebook, Bandcamp and at middleclassfashion.com.

See more St. Louis entries on page two.

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