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Hometown teens vie in TV music competition
by MATTHEW NASH
From opening shows in the Sequim Boys & Girls Club to playing on national TV, three Sequim musicians are doing their best to make the jump to stardom.
Emblem3, consisting of Wesley Stromberg, 18; his brother Keaton, 15; and Drew Chadwick, 19, moved from Sequim to Huntington Beach, Calif., to see where their musical talents could take them.
So far, things look to be looking up for Emblem3, formerly known as The American Scholars. On Monday, May 14, the band appears on the season seven premiere of “America’s Got Talent,” a reality show competition on NBC.
They were chosen out of thousands last December for the season premiere featuring judges Howard Stern, Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles.
Wesley Stromberg said just like everyone else there, they got in line and waited their turn to make an impression. “We got down to the top 20 and then got on live auditions,” he said.
“I can’t tell you how that went.”
Legally, the Sequim Gazette can’t print the proceedings of the show until after it airs.
Stromberg moved to Los Angeles area by himself when he was 16 to get a feel for it and played open mic and solo shows.
Soon thereafter his brother and Chadwick followed. “Obviously in Sequim there’s not much of a music industry,” Stromberg joked. “Hollywood technically is the best place. I love it down here except for leaving close friends and family.”
The Strombergs lived in Sequim most of their lives and Chadwick was raised here.
After the trio moved, the band began playing local shows in Orange County and soon met additional band mates — saxophonist Kyle Miner and drummer Kenny Galbraith.
Emblem3 went through several different names, Stromberg said, but when they discovered “emblem” it was a word that resonated with them.
“Adding “3” was a strong number, he said. “It represents a lot of things. Mind, body and spirit is one way to interpret it and the tripod is one of the strongest foundations.”
So far Emblem3 is holding its own by playing notable venues such as the Hard Rock Café and the House of Blues, both far departures from house shows in Sequim. They won the Orange County Battle of the Bands last October.
“It’s the real deal down here,” Stromberg said.
This summer they plan to do a mini-tour of California and set up a gig to play the X-Games, which is in line with their love for extreme sports.
Finding a sound
Drawing from a number of influences from Sublime to Blink 182 and genres from hip hop to reggae to R&B, band members still are honing Emblem3’s sound.
“I know there are a lot of people out there who don’t have a particular style they lean toward,” said Chadwick, who raps and sings for the group. “We want the best of both worlds.”
They currently are recording a five-song EP (short album) for a tentative release June 16 featuring their remastered song “Sunset Blvd.” Emblem3 has recorded some in Westlake Recording Studios where artists like Michael Jackson and others have tracked songs.
Stromberg said they do a lot of recording at home, too. Chadwick said they are trying to cultivate their own sound by writing songs every day.
“In the process of developing your sound, you get a lot of haters,” he said. “We all start out with our main inspirations. In the beginning it’s who you sound like, but you can take that and improve on it and make it your own.”
Waiting for the industry crown
Regardless of the results of “America’s Got Talent,” Chadwick and Stromberg said they are going to continue their current path.
“The sky is the limit,” Stromberg said. “It could blow up overnight. Or it could be three more years. It’s a crazy business and it’s a lot of work. I sit every single day practicing, recording videos and talking business. It’s not all fun and games. You are on call all the time. You’ve got to be ready and prepared.”
Chadwick said everything has to be in line just right for a band like them.
“We’re going to ride it out, keep developing it and keep going,” he said.
Along with an EP, the band plans to produce high-quality videos to cross-promote their music.
Reach Matthew Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.