Alex Fredkin, Managing Editor
The SUNY system held its first ever SUNY Music Madness contest from November to December 18, helping to showcase the best musical talent coming from students attending any of the SUNY schools. The winner of the competition was post hardcore act Somewhere Up There, a five-member group made up completely of SUNY Oneonta students.
The contest took entries from any of the 64 campuses in the SUNY system, representing over a half a million students. The competition involved three rounds of online voting held on SUNY’s blog. Round one comprised of 13 groups ranging from rock to electronic to folk. This was narrowed down to five groups in round two, and then down to three in the final round.
The runner-ups in the competition were SUNY New Paltz’s Analise & EJ Rios and another SUNY Oneonta group, alternative rock band Hello, Seattle. Somewhere Up There won by only 31 votes out of a total of over 10,000, a less than 1 percent margin of victory, to be crowned the SUNY Music Madness 2013 Champion.
With such close, tough competition, the band is grateful to have been given the honor. In an interview with the State Times the band said “It feels so rewarding knowing that we have been voted the best music act in the entire SUNY system. While the competition kept us on edge, it feels really great knowing that our fans think we are worthy of the title.”
Somewhere Up There started in the fall of 2011 with long-time friends Nick Squillante (vocals) and Rob Farella (drums) as well as their roommates Nick Juliano (keyboards) and Joe Frappaolo (guitar). The group added their bassist Kyle Sisco a few months after the band started when they hosted an open mic night in their dorm. Somewhere Up There has an EP out on iTunes called “Northern Lights,” and are writing material for their first full length album, which features their popular single “The End.”
The group joins a long list of successful musicians that have come from the SUNY system. Singer-songwriter Regina Spektor graduated from SUNY Purchase with honors in 2001. Electronic musician and DJ Moby also attended the university. He has sold more than 20 million albums in his career and won Billboard Artist of the Year in 2002.
Perhaps most famous of the SUNY alums is rock band Blue Öyster Cult, who grew up together on Long Island and graduated from Stony Brook. They are known best for the song “Don’t Fear the Reaper” and have sold over 24 million albums worldwide.
Somewhere Up There has been growing rapidly, playing recent shows with well-known artists such as State Champs and Veara, and winning this competition is already bringing rewards. The band has seen a significant increase in Facebook likes since the competition, enjoyed radio play on stations such as 1010 Wins and were even featured in the Wall Street Journal Online’s article on the contest. Speaking of what winning will mean for the future of the band, they said “Exposure is probably the best reward for any competition. This is exactly what we need as we prepare to release our upcoming full length album.”
The band has a lot on their schedule in the upcoming months. “We plan on doing an East Coast tour in March, as well as to tour extensively throughout the tri-state area. We can’t wait to show our fans what’s in store.”
The competition was a success, bringing added exposure to many bands as well as the SUNY system itself. Somewhere Up There has the support of the entire SUNY system and an ever-growing fan base as the group piles on the accolades. But overall, it’s about their fans for the members of the group, who added “Our fans have been great to us since day one, and we love being able to return the favor with the music we write and play.” After being crowned SUNY Music Madness 2013 Champion, it looks like they’ll be able to keep sharing their music for a long time.