Sound Off!

The Northwest’s premier 21 and under battle of the bands.

  1. Hip-hop group COSMOS took the top prize at Finals 2016, winning them performance spots at Sasquatch! Music Festival and Bumbershoot, plus a ton of new gear, professional industry consultations, and more. 

    Photo courtesy EMP staff.

  2. Dre’zy and Too Smoove delivered a powerful and inventive performance that garnered their Semifinals #3 win, and the title of Audience Favorite for the evening.

    Photo courtesy EMP staff.

  3. Congratulations were in order for doo-wop and R&B master artist Paris Alexa, who was the second Semifinals winner at Sound Off! 2016.

    Photo courtesy EMP staff.

  4. Animal Camera’s took home the Wild Card title at Semifinals #2, with their dramatic performance. They were then selected by EMP's Youth Advisory Board as the Wild Card band to perform at Finals.

    Photo courtesy EMP staff.

An annual event since 2001, EMP’s Sound Off! supports the all-ages scene by giving artists an opportunity to showcase original music, launch their music careers, and connect with the larger artistic community.

Now in its 15th year, Sound Off! has paved the way for some amazing bands and artists including The Lonely Forest, Dyme Def, Sol, Kithkin, Brothers from Another, Manatee Commune, Fauna Shade, Schoolyard Heroes, Tomten, and Brite Futures. Read more about and listen to tracks below of the newest group of Sound Off! bands to join the ranks of these luminary musicians.

Sound Off! 2016 Winner:
Cosmos

A big congrats to COSMOS, who wowed the judges with their lively set and took the top prize at Finals, securing them performance spots at Sasquatch! Music Festival and Bumbershoot. All Finalists bands take home prize packages including performances at high-profile venues in the region including Timber! Outdoor Music Festival, Northwest Folklife, and the KEXP Community Show; plus a ton new gear, industry consultations, professional photoshoots, and more.

Sound Off! Info + More

Eligibility

Participants must be age 21 or under and residents of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, or British Columbia.

Selection

A panel of music industry professionals will review all applicants and select 12 bands to perform live at EMP. Bands will be scored on song composition and arrangement, creativity and originality, and technical ability and musicianship. All categories will be weighted equally. Judges may consider the following:

Composition and Arrangement

How sophisticated and/or effective are the musical arrangements, vocals, lyrics, and melody, rhythms and/or technologies, and instrumentation?

Creativity and Originality

Have you ever heard anything like this? Is this a sound they have created? Are the musicians taking a unique approach?

Technical Ability and Musicianship

Are the musicians proficient with their instruments? Are they in time and in tune? Are the vocals on key?


Band selection criteria subject to change without notice.

For more Sound Off! info and to connect with other musicians in the Northwest, check out EMP’s all-ages music Facebook page, The Soundboard. Download the Rules + Regulations or FAQ (PDFs) to learn more.


Sound Off! 2016 Band Bios

    • Animal Camera

      Animal Camera

      Burien, WA (indie pop/rock)
      Psych-pop outfit Animal Camera is perfectly in control and simultaneously ungovernable. At times they are extra-terrestrial, eccentric, and dreamy (echoing an Ariel Pink basement recording) before suddenly transforming into a murky, menacing, rambunctious, and even campy sound (invoking intonations resonant of Lux Interior of the Cramps). One thing that becomes clear quickly is that this is a band with a sense of humor and a shrewd wit. Their gloom is offered alongside a joke, and we’re happy to both laugh, cry, and rock with them.

    • Copalis

      COPALIS

      Woodinville, WA (indie/psychedelic punk)
      Copalis slowly starts to assemble their mood within a blizzard of scourging guitar chords: dark, spooky, and intriguing. Inspired by a wide range of bands including Radiohead, Weezer, the Beach Boys, and the Pixies, they ride a brooding swathe of inventive rhythms and subtly layered vocals to transform your standard psychedelic grunge into their own unique brand of slightly angsty, quasi-anthemic song.

    • Cosmos

      COSMOS

      Seattle, WA (hip-hop/R&B)
      COSMOS’ brand of genre-busting hip-hop is densely layered and expertly produced. With influences including Thundercat, Kendrick Lamar, and Chance the Rapper, it’s no surprise that a bold, hybrid sound underscores their easy swagger. From sax solos to electro-beats, their natural charisma as storytellers shines through the speakers with a meticulously crafted sound they describe as a “Sunday Morning after a kickass Saturday night.”

    • Crews

      Crews

      Olympia, WA (indie rock)
      Led by Tom McGahern’s beautifully haunting vocals, Crews elicits a wellspring of emotion that pivots on a clean, echoing guitar line. It’s an expressive voice, changing and morphing with the mood of the songs. With influences from Tame Impala to King Krule, the riffs here feel instantly knowable, but the unique beauty of McGahern’s vocals as they spill across the background pull you into an atmospheric journey on a dark and winding path, a restless tension underscoring each curve in the road.

    • Dre'zy and Too Smoove

      Dre'zy and Too Smoove

      Renton, WA (hip-hop)
      Dre’zy and Too Smoove describe themselves as “a band that likes surprises,” and they deliver on that promise with soulful hip-hop that demands you dance to its smooth sounds. Chock-full with catchy beats alongside their laid-back attitude, their musical inventiveness is best approached as an instrumental head-trip. Citing influences from A Tribe Called Quest to Snarky Puppy, expect something new and exciting from them at each performance.

    • Hello I'm Sorry

      Hello, I'm Sorry

      Bellingham, WA (rock)
      Rock outfit Hello, I’m Sorry rests somewhere in the balance between melody and menace. The music is trebly and drowned in indistinct reverb, stumbling its way from speed-freak noise of staggering volume to almost-bouncy pop—a sonic landscape where distortion is promoted as a featured attraction. Nevertheless, underscoring this flurry of sound is an earnest, romantic belief in something beautiful and unattainable in the midst of it.

    • Jazzy Tee

      Jazzy Tee

      Vancouver, BC (R&B/hip-hop)
      A range of beats punctuated by wild vocal displays and tempered by soulful crooning characterize the best of Jazzy Tee. With inventive phrasings and rap eruptions that delve deeper into her signature sound, her lyrics already assert her place as a leading lady in R&B: “I float like Lauryn and I’m bobbing like Alicia.” She may be right: her sultry mix of contemporary R&B, hip-hop, and soulful pop is strong, forceful, and self-assertive—not to mention maddeningly catchy.

    • LEE

      LEE

      Seattle, (indie pop, R&B)
      In its own way, LEE’s music is ambient music: it drifts, ebbs, and flows. Taking inspiration from artists like Erykah Badu, Kendrick Lamar, and Robert Glasper, her eclectic style compellingly drifts across genre lines, and is underscored by soft melodies and slow-burning beats. But it’s LEE’s voice that guides this visionary sound at a lounging, loopy leisure, intimately pulling you into the depth of her story, one filled with mantra-like messages of hope and determination.

    • Paralexis

      Paralexis

      Lake Stevens, WA (electropop)
      Paralexis translates directly to “a feeling beyond words.” Influenced by the work of the dark and upbeat ASTR, dreamy Odesza, and throwback princess LIZ, their electropop sound dives deep into syrupy synths and neon lights, encompassing the strongest of our deepest emotions. Their music is like a dream; shades of meaning hidden in the colors and the narrative—all wrapped up in a warm oasis of sound and rhythm. 

    • Paris Alexa

      Paris Alexa

      Redmond, WA (R&B/pop)
      Paris Alexa’s playful doo-wop pop is masterfully crafted using nothing more than a bit of technology and her voice. Many of her songs are done using no instruments, and indeed Alexa’s strength comes from her complex vocal arrangements, ones with Motown and old-school soulful cues written all over them. Citing influences from Sarah Bareilles to Earth, Wind and Fire, the resulting sound gives her brand of pop plenty of separation from the rest, adding a unique R&B flavor to the contemporary pop song. 

    • Party Shark

      Party Shark

      Lake Forest Park, WA (rock)
      Party Shark describes themselves as “a shark with sunglasses, on land at a party, eating people alive.” And that’s exactly what they are: a shrieking, shredding, psychedelic scattershot of styles with fuzzed-out hooks dished out at blazing speeds. With influences ranging from David Bowie to Bad Brains, the four-piece sound like they’re having a blast, excited with every sound and riff they produce, even as they slow down to zoom in on the details.

    • Travis Thompson

      Travis Thompson

      Burien, WA (hip-hop)
      Seattle rapper Travis Thompson is a throwback to a time when hip-hop music was light-hearted and fun. Refusing to take himself too seriously, Thompson raps about being a pudgy, hilarious goofball. That type of self-awareness and honesty lends an authenticity to his music that’s missing in most of today’s radio raps. Through his genuine verses and slick beats, Thompson is quickly raising his stock with songs on wide-ranging subjects including Tom Hanks, Horchata, and social justice.

Questions?

Email SoundOff@EMPmuseum.org


EMP would like to thank the following organizations for their generous support of Sound Off!:

Bumbershoot 2016SasquatchKEXP 90.3Timber

 dwDunlopFastback StudiosFenderGlazersHotel MaxLondon BridgeNorthwest FolklifePagliacci PizzaTalking Rain