Kiplin Evans is a young, exuberant, multitalented Blazetrak-user-turned-Blazetrak-Pro — and he’s on the move! This writer/performer has recently relocated from New York to Los Angeles, where he is working on brand new music with Blazetrak Pro Shawn Campbell, the Grammy-nominated producer who signed Evans to his AnimalHouse record label after hearing his material on Blazetrak.
Evans, who grew up in Spanish Harlem, writes and sings and raps. Now 21, he has been writing since he was 11 — “I’m the youngest veteran songwriter ever,” he jokes. Over eight months or so, Evans submitted to various Blazetrak Pros, and he was a finalist in our recent competition with Andre Harrell. He eventually asked David Gray, our Director of Support (through our Live Chat feature), for advice on who to submit to. Gray directed Evans to Shawn Campbell, and Evans didn’t have to wait long for a response. “I submitted to him and like a day later I had a [message] saying ‘Hey this is Shawn Campbell, I haven’t sent you a video response yet but you are amazing and we have to get you out here to do some writing,’ and to this day I still get on him because he still hasn’t sent me that video!” They met for the first time in New York, and within weeks Evans was on a plane to LA to work with Campbell for a few days. He came back home briefly before moving to LA, where he’s now writing up a storm.
“The thing I love the most about Blazetrak,” says Evans, “and why I think it’s the greatest site hands down in the history of mankind ever created, is because people get a direct response. Before, you could submit something to somebody but you’d never know if they look at it… And Blazetrak bridges the gap.” It’s important to realize the value in that, even when the response you get from a Pro isn’t the response you were hoping for: “Even if people say, well, they don’t like my stuff, or right now wasn’t the right time for it, you still feel accomplished because you’re like ‘That person recognized me.’ ” How would he describe Blazetrak to someone who had never heard of it before? “It’s like getting the key to go to Mount Olympus for a day.” Or, “It’s like telling somebody they can go backstage on a studio set or a film set, or go to the recording studio with Lil Wayne for a day. The exact same experience.”
His ultimate goal is to release his own album, through AnimalHouse, as an artist. When asked whether he has any “last words” for our readers, Kiplin Evans responded — with a smile I could hear through the phone — “Blazetrak is real; if you need any advice or if you think it’s fake, hit me up, it’s free, and I will tell you that it’s real, and I’ll show you how real it can actually get!”
One person who is already well aware of how real Blazetrak can get is Grammy nominee Shawn Campbell. He’s been producing music for more than a decade, and the last few years of his career have allowed him to focus more on artist development. He recently hosted the My Dream competition, looking for the best performers and music-makers Blazetrak has to offer, and the winners were Tom O’Halloran of Australia (in the writer/producer category) and, in the artist category, Legendary Circle from California.
“I’m always amazed and overwhelmed by how many super-talented people are out there are who aren’t actually in the business,” he muses, “and I love the Blazetrak model because it literally gives me, an executive who has no time to listen to music … direct access, and so I thought this contest would be a great way for me to find new superstars. I’ve been able to get two acts signed to major record labels in the last two years; one of them is Cody Simpson (Atlantic Records) and another one is Alabama Capital who just received an offer from Columbia, and now I need more. I need to find more stars and I can’t find a better venue to do it than Blazetrak.”
Campbell’s come across similar sites, but Blazetrak stands out to him because of our guarantee and the access we provide; also, because we’re recognized, and used, by numerous other insiders: “Most of my industry working connections or partners are aware of it and the majority of them actually use it and I don’t hear any other name.”
Of course, it will take more than just being a Blazetrak user to get his attention. If you’re wondering why Kiplin Evans was whisked off to LA practically as soon as he hit the Send button, prepare to take notes! Campbell praises Evans for three main things: talent, “unbridled enthusiasm,” and commitment. A great submission won’t get you far without a killer work ethic to back it up; Campbell was working on multiple projects simultaneously when Evans came to LA, and “I believe in a five-day span [Evans] wrote 12 to 13 songs. He was a beast, it was incredible.”
Campbell’s succinct description of Blazetrak is “Heaven’s gates. It’s just access to all the things that you thought were inaccessible, and actually were for many years… I know I sound like an old grandfather who says back in my day, but back in my day when I first came up in the music business you didn’t just email an executive and get a response, much less a video response. I had to move to New York City, sleep on a park bench, run coffee, work for less than minimum wage, volunteer, build people’s studios for free, just to actually have the opportunity to play my music for an executive.”
Some people would hear that and wonder, All that just to try to get a break in the industry? Why is making music so important? And Campbell gave one of the best responses I’ve ever heard.
“I’ve come to the opinion that if music is in you, you literally don’t have a choice but to do it. Some people use the word ‘important’ … as if it’s a hobby, but when people who God has given the creative gift try to work outside of it, it’s oftentimes the equivalent of a toaster trying to be a VCR; you’re never fulfilled, you’re never happy, you never feel like you’re in the right place… Creative people, we don’t have a choice.”
With that in mind, he does have some tips.
“One of the things I always do and I ask for all people who submit to do, is pre hate. Make sure you look at your music with a critical eye or ear; and just because you made it, don’t fall in love with it. For a moment step away, and listen to it as if it came from another person. And if after doing that it still strikes you as ‘wow that’s amazing,’ then send it, I want to hear it.” He also prefers that people submit no more than three or four songs. “Pick your favorite ones, your absolute favorite ones. And the last thing is, I know it’s hard, but be professional and make sure to let the music speak for itself.” That is, your submission shouldn’t be about the difficulties you’ve encountered or the struggles you’re going through; it should just be about the excellent work you’re doing, and that should be evident in your submission. Aside from submission tips, Campbell (who grew up in Virginia Beach before moving to New York and eventually to Los Angeles) advises up-and-comers to “Move to where the work is.” And to stay committed to your craft, because it’s all worth it in the end.
“When I first started everyone said ‘don’t do it’ because we’ve all heard the term ‘starving artist;’ it’s a lot of work but there’s literally nothing more fulfilling and I wish the life that God’s been able to give me on every single person. It’s a tradeoff, it’s a lot of pain and struggling, but for those who are beating their head against a wall right now, I’d encourage them because when you get past it, it’s definitely worth everything you’ve encountered, so I encourage people to keep going and not drop out.”