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Tuned in: Dreaming big

ASU student Joe Yoder hopes an MTV contest will send him to Hollywood

 by Kate Kliner
 published on Thursday, March 3, 2005


Joe Yoder may just be a regular ASU student with a passion for music, but he very soon could win an MTV contest that would get him a record deal and music video.

Yoder, a theatre sophomore, entered mtvU's "Best Music on Campus" contest late one night while he was surfing the Internet.

A few weeks later, he was shocked to get a call back from mtvU asking for the lyrics for his demo song that he entered.

"I didn't expect that call, and I had actually forgotten about entering the contest," Yoder says. "The whole experience of entering this contest has been surreal."

The contest was open to all college students across the nation; the entry deadline was last Monday.

MtvU will award the winner with a Universal Records development deal and the chance to produce a music video that will be aired nationwide.

Celebrity judges Akon and G. Love will choose the winner, and the results will be announced in early May. The video will appear on mtvU sometime this fall.

"It's really cool to have a contest like this and maybe I even have a chance. I've always loved music and made it a part of my life."

Yoder first picked up a guitar in seventh grade at a friend's house in his hometown of Little Rock, Ark. and has been obsessed with playing ever since.

He played with a group for a while, but is on his own now and has a different attitude toward his music, he says.

"Lately I have started taking music more seriously and writing for myself," he says.

Yoder says he wants to create a brand-new sound that's never been heard before. He says his style is difficult to describe, but says the bands that have influenced him include the Flaming Lips, the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and the Flying Burritos.

"I go with whatever I'm feeling at the moment," Yoder says. "I don't really stick to one style."

He says he is thankful for the opportunity to enter this contest.

"Music is a difficult industry to break into, and you have to know certain people who are already established in the business, so this contest is a perfect opportunity to get started and get some contacts."

He says winning it would be unbelievable

"If I win, I won't feel worthy," he says. "I feel pretentious talking about my music, but it's cool if someone else enjoys it."

No matter what, Yoder says music always will be important to him.

"Throughout my life, I plan to play music and do shows, regardless of whether I win this contest or not," Yoder says.

In last year's "Best Music on Campus" contest, Forelle -- a rock band from Florida International University -- won the competition and produced a music video for its song "Fractions."

The band was featured on MTV's new show "Freshman" and "Advance Warning," which highlights up-and-coming underground talent.

Jenni Runyan, a spokeswoman for mtvU Networks On Campus, says Forelle has decided to stay independent, but that it has received offers from some major record labels, and its video is still in rotation on MTV.

"There's so much talent on college campuses and we want to give students an opportunity to get in front of record labels that will represent them," Runyan says.

She says the majority of the entries were bands last year, although they also got a few solo acts and rap artists.

Besides Yoder, Runyan says one other band from ASU entered the contest this year. Its name is D.I.R.K.

Scott Fey, general manager of The Edge (103.9 FM), says the contest is a good opportunity for locals.

"Phoenix has one of the most active emerging music scenes in the country, so I'm really not surprised that MTV has decided to target the ASU campus," he says.

He adds that The Edge promotes local talent and he is excited to know that other organizations are doing the same.

"The area is growing so quickly and is a wonderful place for emerging stars. There is a lot of great music here, so I'm sure they'll find some terrific artists," he says.

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