Every once in awhile, you come across a fellow student whose interests validate your own, a student whose success gives you hope for your own. Meet Ben Schechter: Seattle native, General Studies senior with a focus in entrepreneurship — and music discovery extraordinaire.
Driven by his love of “sharing hidden gems of the music world,” Schechter (a former photographer for The Michigan Daily) started What The Sound. Launched and curated by Schechter alone, the website is a collection of interviews with bands from around the world who discuss their music, artistic journeys and life in general. More recently, Schechter has started organizing and promoting his own shows in an effort to get people listening to and talking about the artists he believes in most. Thursday Feb. 4, What The Sound presents five local artists at The Blind Pig for the listening pleasure of anyone 18+; more information and artist bios can be found here.
The idea for What The Sound grew out of past job and internship experiences with other music blogs and do206.com, a Seattle-based website that offers suggestions for things to do around the city.
“It’s a very music-oriented website,” Schechter said. “My bosses were big in the music world and so were their bosses, so I got to learn to love covering shows.”
Being underage at the time, he was limited to covering all ages events. Some were underwhelming, but others were full of underrated and under-promoted talent. “I developed a passion to focus on sharing stories of up-and-coming artists who I think have potential, but who aren’t that well known.” Like a true entrepreneur, he wanted to do this sharing himself, and What The Sound was born last August.
The site’s first interview featured singer/songwriter Bonny Doone (a.k.a. Daniel Hopkins). “I was just geeking out over his music and decided to reach out,” Schechter said. As the geeking continued, the site grew, and eventually bands began reaching out to him for interviews. Most recently, Robert Tornillo of New Orleans-based band IZE contacted Schechter, leading to an interesting discussion about his path from producing dubstep to singing, and the current state of the New Orleans music scene.
Attention received by What The Sound’s artists is a testament to Schechter’s ear for talent. Soon to appear on the site, progressive rock band Abbey Grange from Durban, South Africa won an international contest for their cover of The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” and a trip to New York, where they’ll spend the upcoming summer. And after a piece on indie-rock band Car Seat Headrest appeared on What The Sound last August, Rolling Stone put them on the top of their “10 New Artists You Need to Know” list for September, and wrote an entire feature on them in November.
But mainstream attention hasn’t lead Schechter to put any one artist over another. “They’re all my favorite finds, each and every single one of them,” Schechter said. I don’t doubt that he could go on about them all for days, and in a sense, his website satisfies that personal pull to be constantly caught up in music — talking, writing, thinking, breathing. What The Sound concert promotions are the next step in getting a wider audience to feel that pull by adding a performance platform to What The Sound’s written content. So go ahead, indulge your inner music geek.