In the fall of 2014, Ivan Mendoza, a viola performance major at Montclair State University, decided that he wanted to find a way to showcase up-and-coming musicians like himself, so he started “The Freeman Sessions” (TFS) to record musicians and their original songs.
The project, named after the campus building he lives in, has taken off and sparked much interest in the arts community at MSU. “It’s a good way to get your name out there,” says Mendoza.“If you are trying to book a gig then people can search you and see your work on a community channel and see that others are interested enough to record and listen to your work.”
EJ King, one of the most recent performers on TFS, describes the experience as “very precise.” “There were a lot of moving parts that were effective,” says King. “I enjoy the idea of recording original work in an open venue on campus, because it really helps with the emotion during performing.”
TFS gives its performers a chance to perform in an open location around the MSU campus, taking away the pressure of scheduling a studio, giving TFS its originality and hip vibe that is noticeable in their videos.
Getting word out about the project has been the biggest struggle. “So far, everyone recorded has been someone I am friends with and have wanted to record for a while, but I’m hoping to grow it out to the entire university,” he said.
Information about TFS has been posted in the MSU Class of ’17 and ’18 Facebook pages. King refers to future success by saying, “The project is still in its infancy. To really get out there, TFS needs to get people who write from the heart.”
Erika Hallenbeck, a piano education student, has received a lot of positive feedback and recognition since her debut on TFS. “My experience was awesome. It makes me so happy that people like my song and that I hear people singing it,” Hallenbeck explains. “It was cool to have someone professionally record the video instead of me recording myself in my room, which is what I was used to.”
TFS has built up a fan base in the arts community and people are starting to get more involved with the project and want to be featured.
You can view the Freeman Sessions YouTube channel here.
TFS currently has five total videos on YouTube and has approximately 1960 total views, along with their Facebook page with 295 likes since October of 2014. Mendoza said, “I know news about TFS has not really spread outside of the musical arts community but the more diverse people I get a chance to record can change that, especially people outside of the music program. I know that everyone I have already featured has heard about TFS by word-of-mouth, so I am hoping to expand upon that.”
All response to TFS has been positive. King and Hallenbeck both say that people have complimented them and recognized them from being featured on TFS and both said if given another opportunity they would definitely record for the project again.
Supporter and fan of TFS, Luis Segovia, has helped spread awareness for the music project. “When I work at the check-in desk I usually have TFS videos playing on the computer and people always ask what I’m watching and want to check it out,” Segovia explains. “I have always been a fan of different covers and original songs on YouTube so when I heard about TFS I was really interested in what it had to offer.” Segovia is a current Residence Assistant in Freeman Hall and says, “TFS has been a great way to bring attention to the talent in the building and I see it being very successful in the future.”
The project has already become a popular topic on the Freeman/Russ side of the MSU campus and can only grow from there. “I see great things coming out of TFS,” said Mendoza. “I started it to feature my friends that I though were talented and should have their work exposed but now I see this project growing into something more.”
Montclair State | New Jersey