Newcomer's debut album will be released on December 1. STEVEN LEE/THE VARSITY

Newcomer — a band of misfits that recently decided to dip our feet in the music industry. Our group is made up of four musicians: Josh Sofian, a bass player from Beijing, Martin Camara, a drummer from Brazil, Lucas Ratigan, a guitarist originally from New York, and me, Matias Gutierrez, a vocalist and guitarist from Mississauga.

We’ve been officially playing together since last September, and early in October we signed with Coin Records, a Mississauga-based record label. All of us met as U of T students from a variety of different fields. Martin is an engineering student, Josh studies statistics, and Lucas and I are in the social sciences.

Together, we’ve attempted to balance academic life with our music careers. As a band comprised of full-time students at UTSG, managing our time while allotting space for creativity might seem difficult.

Often, student bands will dissipate or remain forever as the stuff of a hobby — stuck playing covers and trapped by their members’ external commitments. There is nothing wrong with student bands remaining exactly what they are. The trouble comes when student musicians wish to further explore the possibilities of their own sound but find themselves confined by their busy schedules, assignments, or lack of awareness of the opportunities available to them.

Our guitarist, Lucas, says that it requires a change in perspective to see university life as an opportunity for inspiration. “University experiences are so diverse and compelling, it’s easy to write,” he says. Josh adds that music can also serve as an escape from school. “If I’m having a hard time, music helps me release some of that in a productive way.”

Our band’s members share the feeling that student life is able to enhance our music and creativity. It can be easy to write a song when you’re experiencing so many strange new things as a university student. Your remaining task is to manage your time wisely to rehearse, record, and publicize.

In this sense, we’ve been somewhat lucky in our own journey as a band. For a variety of reasons, students often lack the resources to record and publish their own music. Without a studio, or the knowledge of how best to publish music, student bands hardly receive the kind of exposure they need to break into the music industry.

My own recording studio, which I built in my basement while in high school, serves as the location for all Newcomer recordings, made with a variety of old and new equipment assembled over the years. It’s there that we recorded our first single, “Zeitgeist,” and released it on social media using an online song distributor.

If you listen closely to the sounds of “Zeitgeist,” which is available on all major streaming services, you’ll hear audible shouts and crooning that respond to the lyrics like echoes. It was this single that drew the attention of Coin Records.

We became a band when Josh, Lucas, and I were in first year and met at a U of T music club event. It wasn’t until a full year had passed that we saw our first successes in the form of getting signed and booking our first gig. Getting the attention of a label required consistency and persistence.

Newcomer will perform on November 19 at Horseshoe Tavern.




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