Maiya Spivey’s first memory as a musician occurred at 3 years old. As her grandmother gathered items at the grocery store, Spivey serenaded passersby to the tune of “…Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears.
“The Wal-Mart was my stage,” Spivey said.
Ever since she was selected as a key artist by Joust Records, UCF’s student-run record label, Spivey, a sophomore psychology major, has been performing as “Nervous Knees” on stages across UCF. Joust Records is the brainchild of senior marketing major Jermaine Lewin, a former dancer seeking to make a career for himself in artist management. Lewin has been trying to form the label since last spring, but he hit a few speed bumps along the way, including lost paperwork that delayed the organization becoming a registered student organization.
Joust Records became official in November.
“This took about a year to really get going,” Lewin said. “It was not easy. You have to be dedicated. You have to persevere.”
The student-run record label held auditions for its first featured artists in February. The five who were selected included Spivey, singer-songwriters Brendan Pafford and Raymond Bernier, rapper Bedaraps and psychedelic rock band The Hammocks.
“We’ve never done anything like that, like auditioned for something, so that was pretty interesting, especially with people similar to our own age group,” said Gianna Mascaro, a sophomore journalism major and lead singer of The Hammocks. “It was cool that we reached them with our music.”
After the auditions, Joust Records works on showcasing the talent of its featured artists.
“Our focus is going to be on those five key artists … just getting them out there as much as we can,” Lewin said.
Joust Records’ nine-member executive board has booked a variety of gigs at UCF for the artists, including the Campus Activities Board’s Street Art Festival and the Battle of the Bands. Bernier’s victory at the battle landed him a performance slot at Knight-Thon.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to try to do something with music and to see it kind of come into fruition is kind of cool,” Bernier said.
The freshman mechanical engineering major got his first guitar when he was 10.
“I practiced for hours a day, and it was really frustrating. But eventually, you know, I just kept at it, and I just fell more and more in love with it,” he said.
Joust also hosts bi-weekly open mic nights at Wackadoo’s. Each performance is recorded and posted on the group’s SoundCloud. All UCF musicians are welcome to participate.
Spivey will audition for the musical talent show “The Voice” a second time this year. She said the experience she has gained through Joust’s open mic nights has better prepared her to deal with her signature nerves this time around.
“I think after being in Joust and being able to do all of these open mics … she’s gotten a lot more confidence, so I think this time she won’t be Nervous Knees,” Lewin said.
Joust’s artists also have the opportunity to practice recording in a studio. They share the space located in the Orlando Tech Center with the Audio Engineering Club, which works with about 15 artists of its own, said technical director Martin Wienc, a senior information technology major. The studio is free and open to all UCF students who book an appointment through the audio engineers; however, all recordings are property of UCF.
Wienc said Robert Reedy, a professor of art and the director of the Advanced Design Lab at UCF, gave the audio engineers space last spring, which they transformed into a working studio. Reedy also serves as Joust’s adviser.
“The idea of using ADlab’s recording studio and merging that with the audio engineers and the Joust concept just makes perfect sense to me because it provides the students a place where they can go and do anything they want any way they want to do it without fear of retribution,” Reedy said.
Reedy is no stranger to the music business, having played professionally since he was in middle school. His band, Uncle Sam, was one of the first integrated bands in the mid-South. He said he brings his experience with the sometimes cutthroat world of the music industry to his role as adviser.
“The beauty of school is that you can experiment when you’re in here. You’re not under contract,” Reedy said. “I think the more you can do where you’re kind of merging what you learned from your college education to what’s really going on out there, the better off you are … for entry into your field.”
Lewin said Joust is always looking for new artists and members. He will graduate in the spring, but said he will still help out because it’s not something he wants to see fade away, especially with an already declining membership. He plans on doing more tabling at the Student Union and ice cream socials to spread the word.
“I’m glad I could get this started,” he said. “I don’t want this to die.”
Reedy recalled the packed room of faces from all walks of life at Joust’s first meeting in November.
“That’s what music and art does,” Reedy said. “It collectively brings people together that would never be together under any other circumstances.”
Ciara Varone is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.