Students compete in national contest for record label

2/21/2007 | By: Staff Report  |

In a nationwide talent contest hosted by mtvU in January, the University of Nevada, Reno stood out with bands "The Lady or the Tiger" and "Canto I" in the top ten. Canto I advanced to the top five where the group competed for a short digital album, and a video and promotion deal with Definitive Jux Records and mtvU.   

This is the fourth year for the "Best Music on Campus" competition. However, it is the first time the competition offered a total of four record deals. This year, the contest is divided into four separate competitions, one held each month between January and April. Each month's winner receives a record deal with an established record label. The last competition will hand out the title of Artist of the Year, as well as a video, promotion, tour and record deal from Epic Records and mtvU, and a live performance on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien." Finalists are chosen by voting online at  

Jason Rzepka, manger of communications for mtvU, said last year's response to the competition was impressive.  

"[There is] an amazing talent in our audience," Rzepka said. "Why not harness that and find different ways to launch their careers?"

Though it is not the first time The Lady or The Tiger has entered the competition, it is the first time they have made the top ten. With a new member and a more mature sound, the pop-punk group had better success this year. Keyboard and guitarist Matt Irwin said he enjoyed the competition.

"Ever since I was young, I wanted to make music my life," Irwin said.

Irwin attributes this year's achievement to the addition of a drummer.

"Our music has more energy," he said.

Though the group did not advance to the top five, Irwin said he is not discouraged and plans on trying again in the next competition. However, he said he hopes to build a fan base for the band in Reno before independently contacting a record label.

While the groups in the top ten contained R&B, rock, and Indie acts, hip hop dominated the top five.  

Top-five contenders, Canto I (pronounced canto-eye), is a family act. Danny Fiorentini, 21, and Joey Fiorentini, 19, are brothers who have been making music together and recording for nearly five years. Danny said this is the first time Canto I has tried to catch the eye of an American record label.

The brothers first heard about the competition through a friend just four days before the entry deadline in December. Within those four days, they recorded four songs.

While the hip hop duo's influence stems mostly from artists and groups such as Nas and the Wutang Clan, Fiorentini said he gathers inspiration from other music genres as well. The Beatles and Led Zeppelin are among the groups who have impacted him.

"We make music and it happens to come out as hip hop," Fiorentini said.

The group entered the competition under stage names Effect and Joe Fury but later chose to create a name which represented them as a group. They created Canto I. "Canto" refers to the chapters in Dante's Inferno. By adding "I" and making the name personal, the name suggests another chapter in life, Fiorentini said.

Even though the group did not win the grand prize, Fiorentini said it wouldn't stop them from making music.

MTV's 24-hour college network, mtvU can be seen on campus in dining places such as the Overlook in the Jot Travis Student Union, and in the Downunder Cafe below Argenta Hall, and nationwide on 750 campuses.


For more news on the University of Nevada, Reno, follow @unevadareno on Twitter.

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