Arts and Entertainment

Emblem3: Earning their success

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Standing in front of his childhood home in downtown Sequim, Keaton Stromberg, 16, said he's glad he's spent most of his life in Sequim.

“If we grew up in Huntington Beach (Calif.), we wouldn't be as humble,” Keaton said.
“Sequim has a nice vibe.”
He and his brother Wesley, 18, and friend Drew Chadwick, 19, moved to California from Sequim to take a chance in the music industry with their band Emblem3. So far, so good following a successful audition on Fox's 'The X Factor' on Sept. 12. They'll appear next on the show at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3, on Q13 Fox Seattle.
They sang their original tune “Sunset Blvd.” to a huge response from judges and fans, which has since exploded on the iTunes alternative music charts.
“Overnight, it went from nowhere to 16 on the charts and 7 in New Zealand,” said singer/rapper Drew Chadwick.
“We were on TV for four minutes and to get this big of reception, I didn't know anything like this was possible.”
The young band started rehearsing in the basement of that childhood home of the Strombergs where some of their lyrics remain written on the walls.
Wesley moved to Los Angeles at 16 to put out feelers in the music industry. Keaton and Drew moved in the past year.
They've worked their way up the local scene to play large venues and win a battle of the bands. Their management team encouraged them to try out for “America's Got Talent,” a reality show competition on NBC earlier this year, but the band was cut from the audition airings.
“It just didn't feel right,” Wesley said.
The brothers agreed it was more of a show geared for a Las Vegas act; the prize eventually went to Olate Dogs, a circus-like performance with trained dogs.
Through that opportunity came another as producers with “X Factor” asked the band to try out for their show. The brothers and Drew felt it was a better fit because the show was strictly music.

Who they are
Emblem3's music following not only increased but so did the band's social following. Keaton said the band's Twitter account saw 25,000 more followers the day after their audition. His personal Twitter account saw 15,000 more people.
Keaton said fans are wanting to know more about them and one fan even proposed online.
“We're finding it's not only girls enjoying it but guys comment on our YouTube videos,” Keaton said.
“It's not about how we look, it's about our music and personalities.”
Bandmates say they are continuing to overcome stereotypes as mainstream media outlets interview them and brand them a boy band.
“We are a real band who writes our own music,” Wesley said. “We don't want to stand and dance on stage for just 13-year-old girls.”
The band draws its influences from punk to reggae to R&B and more to make a unique sound that they feel has mass appeal. Keaton said he knows “Sunset Blvd.” appeals to older listeners because of its saxophone sound.
“I feel when people see a band like One Direction (a new United Kingdom/Irish teen sensation that appeared on 'The X Factor U.K.'), in the U.S. they want something similar, but they aren't listening to the music first,” Keaton said.
Drew said his definition of boy bands appeal to 6-year-old boys to 13-year-old girls.
“Those are the most passionate fans and the fans buying shirts and coming to all your shows, but we're not in this to make money from that,” Drew said.
“We want to keep a respectable name for ourselves. I want to be proud of this band. We play all our own instruments and that (boy band) stereotype is so narrowing.”

Stomping grounds
Interview opportunities continue to pour in, but the band took some time off to visit in Sequim, albeit at different times, recently. They visited family and friends and hung out at Lake Crescent and Lake Sutherland.
Keaton found people were really supportive and people he knew and didn't really know were congratulating him for the show.
“People in Sequim have been so supportive and awesome,” Wesley said. “I was just down at the Sequim Skate Park where kids came up and congratulated me. They've been giving us mass respect.”
Drew came up before the show debuted and found it to be a relief.
“You live in California long enough and you can get caught up in the material blur of the area,” he said.
“I needed to get reconnected with my roots and do some soul-searching for a little bit. I am so honored to come from an amazing town. The place has instilled such good morals and values in our hearts. We couldn't ask for a better support team. They are the inspiration that I grew up with and complimented and even criticized me.”
In the past few weeks, they've been asked countless times where they are from, to which they say Sequim and Huntington Beach.
“Down here it doesn't mean where you're from but where you live now,” Drew said.
“We can't control the image the TV producers say where we're from. They want the California image not the Sequim boy.”

For now …
As the show goes on, Emblem3 says things are basically the same as before while they wait. They continue to write and record in Keaton's bedroom and plan to play more shows around their current home.
“It's not a bad life,” Drew said.
Keaton remains in high school doing independent studies while working on music and Drew is working on his GED.
Emblem3 has three singles available online, including “Sunset Blvd.” and “Curious,” which has the same breakout potential, the brothers agreed.
“There's 30 songs that are just as cool as “Sunset Blvd.,” Wesley said.
“We have a big catalogue that we could release. We have a lot for a good ride. The crazy part is that this all is from a five-minute audition.”

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