Blank Vinyl Project’s Versus a chance for first time bands to jam

UBC’s music community is gearing up for some competition.

Blank Vinyl Project (BVP)’s Versus event on March 20 will see up-and-coming bands duke it out for a chance to win a spot at BVP’s annual music festival, Goosehunt.

Originally called Band Wars, the event is meant to be the culmination of the BVP’s build-a-band program, which seeks to get first-time bands off the ground.

“We thought that [the name change] kind of represents a more diverse understanding of music,” said organizer Ryder McGinnis.

The program was restructured to include more genre-specific “jam sessions” where musicians could ease into playing in a group environment.

Versus is the bands’ time to shine.

“We like to think of this as like a launchpad for … acts that are new to performing,” said McGinnis. “This is a great opportunity to listen to some pretty great music but also to support people who are new to performing and give them a warm audience.”

Indie-rockers Clueless Clementine are looking forward to their first live performance as a band.

Singer-guitarist Flora Sage, bassist Angela Villavicencio, guitarist Conaire Kehoe and drummer Ross Tomita met through the BVP’s Facebook group.

“The last time I played live was actually my high school graduation,” said Sage.

“I’ve never played drums live before at a show, so, sounds like fun!” Tomita said.

The band bonded over a love for indie rock.

“I really like the vibe that indie rock gives me. I just feel like you can express so much emotions and feelings. It doesn’t matter the words or lyrics, just the feeling it gets. It hits you when you listen to it,” said Sage.

Sage drew her band’s name from the quirky, free-spirited character Clementine of the 2004 film Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind and the cluelessness that stems from being a student just trying to figure it out.

“Right now, our lives in university, we right now have no idea what we’re going to do, what job we’re going to get,” she said. “I kind of feel a little … relatable to [Clementine’s] insecurity, like her trying to be an adult but she’s not good at it.”

Though the band draws inspiration from other indie and alternative-rock acts like Wolf Alice and The Strokes, they say they’ve managed to craft a sound that’s all their own.

“We want ourselves to be like, very unique and new at the same time,” said Sage.

They’ll be performing a mix of original music — penned by Sage — and a cover.

“It’s been experimental, writing new stuff that’s completely new,” said Sage.

Alternative-pop band Bad Economy is also taking the stage for the first time on March 20.

Drummer and vocalist Abhi Subramani, keyboardist Ethan Fernandes, guitarist Jack Zhao and bassist Ilo Feldman all met through BVP.

“For most of [the bands], if not all of them, it’s their first performance. So BVP kind of gives us a platform for that. It’s really good for them to do that … there’s not a lot of other opportunities like that on campus,” said Subramani.

The band are currently prepping for their debut with four hours of weekly practice. While their influences range from Brockhampton to Rex Orange County to Taylor Swift — expect a Swift cover at the event — the loose confines of their genre let them get creative.

“That kind of comes through in our sound. We all listen to very different things [but] we bring it together,” said Fernandes. “We’re not boxed in by a particular side and we can just do whatever we want,” he said.

“The struggle to be alternative is the struggle to be creative and make good art — and that’s what we’re trying to show,” said Subramani.

“Music where you can’t, like, say clearly what the genre is? That’s the best music,” said Feldman.

BVP’s efforts to cultivate new talent on campus is paying off, as six budding bands will face off at The Pit on March 20 at 7 p.m.

And though the stakes may be high — two winners will earn the spot at Goosehunt and there are plans to add an off-campus gig as an additional prize — nerves aren’t.

“We’re really excited to be performing,'' said Villavicencio.

“We’re friends so we’re really comfortable playing with each other. But actually we have no idea what’s going to turn out,” said Zhao. “We’re not on the stage alone. We’ve got friends beside us. We’ve got each other’s back.”