Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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From Sheridan Road to Sunset Boulevard

With more Northwestern alumni and students populating the theater, film, and music scenes, the next big thing might just be someone who you’ve taken a class in Kresge with or seen at an a capella show. Though the university is known for its academics, it’s helped produce stars like “Friends” actor David Schwimmer, “The Colbert Report” host Stephen Colbert and “Scrubs” star and “Garden State” director Zach Braff. Just in the past few weeks, John Park of “American Idol” fame was named runner-up of Superstar K2, a South Korean reality competition similar to American Idol. Though he fell short of winning the grand prize, Park recently got signed as a model for print advertisements for an outdoor clothing brand and is already showing promises of having a successful career in Asia. But the former Purple Haze performer isn’t the only NU student trying to make it big in the music, dance or acting industries.

Born to be wild

Kelsey Wild started writing lyrics as a freshman in high school and admits they were “probably really terrible.” Around her sophomore of high school, the 20-year-old Communication junior had her first gig, filling in for another musician in her hometown of Rockford, Ill.

“It was the basement of a church that was rented out on weekends for really shitty bands to play, and I was really nervous,” Wild said.

Afterward, she started branching out to playing shows in Chicago. By the time she was a few weeks into her freshman year at Northwestern, she was booked for a gig at SPACE in Evanston.

Wild has released several EP’s highlighting her unique, acoustic folk sound. She has also played at around 40 venues, including shows at Schuba’s Tavern and Weirder Park General Store in Chicago. Her s performing at the South by Southwestern music festival in Austin last March. A committee at the music festival chooses around 2000 musicians to showcase their work during the five-day event, and it is attended by over 13,000 music industry professionals.

“It’s a lot of music fans, people who are really into music [and] it was really nice to play in that kind of atmosphere,” she said of the experience.

Despite the variety of performance experience Wild has had, she admits performing is not her strength.

“You learn a lot about the music playing in front of other people, but I’ve only recently started to enjoy playing,” she said. “Usually it’s more of a scary thing, because there’s such a potential for failure.”

Other than her festival experiences, Wild has little time to be on the road. She says performing in the Chicago music scene is one of the only ways she can build up her fan base. The other is maintaining a presence on various social networking websites like MySpace, Last.fm, Facebook and PureVolume

After she graduates from Northwestern, Wild plans on pursuing music as a full-time career, writing more material and possibly going on tour. Despite being approached by several major record labels in high school, Wild hasn’t been tempted to sign with any companies just yet because she wants to maintain creative control over her work.

“Pretty much, you sign up but you’re just a voice instead of a writer. So I chose not to do anything like that.”

“However she decides to marry the business end with the artistic end, I know she will have to have a certain amount of control of her writing and performing to be happy,” said her mother, Sue Wild.

Kelsey has been interning at the record label Drag City, home to indie artists like Joanna Newsom. Working behind the scenes has given her a different perspective of the music business.

“I think I’ll know better in the future if I see myself on an independent label or if I see myself doing my own label,” said Wild. “My goal is to exhaust everything that I can do on my own.”

A Josh of all trades

“Performing is exciting. It’s risk taking, it’s vulnerable, it’s such a great experience being up there because you’re showing your work and hoping people like it,” said Josh Kim, a Bienen senior from Orange County also trying to make it in the music world.

“I get his songs stuck in my head all the time,” said 21-year-old Amanda Westrich, a Medill senior, who set up Josh Kim’s Facebook fan page. “He’s got a way of putting what he’s thinking into words with some kind of catchy melody.”

“I know that there’s a lot of acoustic music out there, but what I try to do with my music is take what I like about anything and just try to fuse it as much as possible together” said Kim.

In addition to his weapon of choice, the acoustic guitar, Kim plays the drums, bass and piano, and dabbles in singing as well. He also mixes, records and edits all his music, aided by his studies at Northwestern as an ad hoc music business and technology major. As much as Kim loves performing, he’s also interested in working behind the scenes.

“If I’m not going to be [performing] as my career, I want to make music my career in some way in terms of the industry,”

Kim admits his performing experience has been limited, but he’s still enjoyed the opportunities he has had. His first show, during his sophomore year at Northwestern, was at SPACE in Evanston, opening for Matt Duke as well as the Spring Standards.

“The venue’s pretty small, but it’s cozy and a good environment especially for my type of music, since it is solely acoustic,” Kim said. “I think I was a little bit spoiled because after that, it was hard to find gigs of that level. “

He has also performed at Schuba’s Tavern in downtown Chicago and “hole in the wall coffee shops where no one’s listening.”

Kim is thankful of how easily distributing music the Internet allows and has his posted music on Facebook, MySpace, Bandcamp and YouTube.

After working at Warner Music Group over the summer has made him realize a label is often necessary to make a profit, Kim is aware and wary of the compromises people make with commercial music.

“I don’t think my sound or my way is set up for big companies,” he said.

So she thinks she can dance

While watching the wildly popular TV dance competition “So You Think You Can Dance,” Maxine Hupy was inspired to audition for the show.

“I was like, I can do that, I know I can do that,” the Communication senior said.

After hours of waiting at the Cadillac Palace Theater in downtown Chicago, Hupy, a classically trained ballerina, was able to pass two preliminary rounds of auditions. At the solo performance stage of auditions in front of the judges, Hupy was sent to choreography. In the next round, she was cut but was told by the judges to return the following year.

“That sounds like ‘Yeah, Maxine, whatever, you probably suck,’ but one of the (members of the panel) from the first round pulled me aside and said ‘Hey, they’re serious,” Hupy said. “They told me I was too balletic and that they wanted me to train for another year in other dances and come back.”

A native of Milkwaukee, Wisconsin, Hupy spent the past summer in Los Angeles taking contemporary, jazz, and some hip hop dance classes.Through the workshops, her dancing ability and technique caught the eye of a few teachers.

Choreographer Yusef Nasir invited Maxine to be a part of his show called Carnival. Hupy flew back to Los Angeles in September to perform in the show. She was also invited to work with choreographer Sonya Tayeh’s dance company but had to return to school.

“This summer was about making connections and networking. I ended up growing a lot as a dancer this summer and met a lot of great people,” Hupy said.

Her brother Rex, a Northwestern Communications sophomore, says her ballet training gives her an advantage in the commercial dance world.

“She has perfect technique from all the ballet, and she has personality which makes her shine on stage and she can do every type of dance style,” he said.

Maxine started taking ballet classes when she was five years old. After graduating
from high school, she was offered a position at the Seattle-based Pacific Northwest Ballet but broke her foot while training. She decided to come to Northwestern with plans to return to PNB in January, but got too involved on campus.

“The first week of freshman year she started auditioning for everything. She made Fusion (Dance Company), Boomshaka and Graffiti (Dancers) and had to choose which ones she actually had time for,” said her friend Hanna McKeen, a Weinberg senior.

A dance and Spanish double major, Hupy says she’s grateful for her college experience because it puts her at an advantage in terms of education, maturity and focus. However, she says it didn’t help her transition from classical to commercial dance because neither have a strong presence on campus.

In addition to plans to audition for “So You Think You Can Dance” again next year, Hupy is preparing footage and coordinating with her dance instructor in Los Angeles to sign with a dance agency. Breaking into the commercial world of dancing is her primary goal,

“I could see her blazing her own trail,” said McKeen. “I don’t think she’s going to settle for ordinary. She really wants to be something different and something cool and she’s fearless in that way.”

A patient path to stardom

“People always say the business of acting is a lot about what you look like, but I sort of didn’t believe that,” said Spencer Squire, a 22-year-old theatre major from Philadelphia.

Squire says acting has always been his favorite thing to do. His mother, Vicki, remembers his enthusiasm for theatre started from a young age after his family visited New York City to watch a production of Peter Pan.

“He was like ‘When are we going again? And by the time he was 16, he was going to New York on his own.”

Despite his early interest in theatre, Squire decided to attend Northwestern to explore his options.

“I wasn’t ready to commit to acting 1000 percent and I think throughout the years here I’ve actually become even more committed to the point that I definitely want to pursue acting,” he said.

Squire’s own acting experiences since coming to Northwestern have been in campus productions like “Dolphin Show,” “Peter Pan”, “Waa-Mu Show,” “Bye Bye Birdie” and more. It was on “Bye Bye Birdie,” that Amanda Kahn, who graduated from Northwestern last year, says she remembers Squire fondly.

“He was Conrad, the star, and all (us) girls had to freak out every time he came out. But none of us were ever acting — we were all in love with him,” said Kahn. “He’s just very engaging and has a kind of stage presence.”

Squire wants to be able to support himself through acting, whether in television, film, or his preferred medium on stage.

“It’s a scary thing when so many people fail and there are so many horror stories,” said Squire. “My biggest fear is just that I’ll give up.”

His solution is to not plan too far ahead, make long-term goals or set any limits for himself. For now, Squire has made plans to move to either New York or Los Angeles, get an agent and begin auditioning to get work.

“In order to live successfully, I need to take it one day at a time,” he said.

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
From Sheridan Road to Sunset Boulevard