Apollo Music Store ad event hit all the high notes

Producer Steve Lillywhite

Toronto-based Apollo Music Store’s (AMS) recent music/ad event in Chicago featured a famous producer, an open bar and enough food to satisfy SRO advertising and music industry guests at The Wit Hotel last Thursday night.

“It actually exceeded my expectations,” says AMS’ music supervisor Greg Lozoff. “To give the chance for young, up-and-coming musicians to be critiqued by the esteemed panel was worth more than anything.”

But it was two relatively unknown local recording bands featured during the program — The Noise FM and Celsius — who stole the show. That’s exactly what the organizers were hoping for.
AMS supervisors touted their finesse at identifying music for the advertising industry by playing a number of locally produced tracks and then discussing each song’s potential with a panel of industry experts.
Special guest was international pop mega producer, Steve Lillywhite. Asked about his motivation for joining the panel, he explained, “When I hear a great commercial, I just always want to know what that music is.”
Two local tracks were the event’s big hits

 Senior music producer Stump Mahoney, FCB; CD Craig Shparago, Leo Burnett; senior music producers Morgan Thoryk, McGarry Bowen, and Chris Clark, Leo Burnett; producer Steve LillywhiteThe last two tracks of the night, The Noise FM’s uptempo slick rocker, “Keep Me in the Dark,” and Celsius’ thoughtful trip hop, “Earned Not Given,” dialed the discussion up to real time feedback levels.

The Noise FM arrived in Chicago by way of Fort Scott, Kansas (population, 8,000). Although the band’s music is featured in European X-Box games and their gigs have filled rooms at SXSW, the members still carry that don’t-get-your-hopes-up attitude of dues-paying rock and rollers.

“We were just excited at the prospect of free beer and  snacks,” is how singer/guitarist Alex Ward describes the band’s expectations before the event.

But after the review, they were “pleasantly surprised.”

Sedric Taylor, aka “Celsius,” came from East Cleveland, Ohio. He was a freelance rhythm monger selling beats out of a laptop in a backpack when the death of a close friend and the end of a marriage engagement nudged him towards Chicago in the summer of 2011.

Taylor met AMS’ Koo Abuali and Lozoff while working his day job at the AT&T store downtown.
“Koo starts explaining to me what they did,” he recalled. “I gotta admit, I’d never been approached by someone like this.”

 After the panel reviewed his song, “Earned, Not Given,” Steve Lillywhite exclaimed, “It’s like Moby!”
Some people seemed put off by the comparison, but Lillywhite persisted: “There’s nothing wrong with that,” he said. “He made a f**king fortune.”

Although Celsius may still be waiting on his fortune, he appeared more than happy with the value he received during the event.

“I listened to the most important people there tell a kid from East Cleveland that they liked what he did,” he says.

“I’ve been working hard my whole life to get into that room.”