Berklee College of Music graduates India Shore and Claire Altendahl became friends over an unexpected string of events. While auditioning for a vocal performance show as a solo musician, Shore put out a request for a backing band member, and Altendahl responded. Just a few years later, the two would become pop-rock band The Blue, an Independent Music Award-nominated duo.
“We didn’t get the audition. [The judges] at the audition did say, ‘you guys should work together,’” Altendahl, 22, said. “We played an original for this audition, so once I heard what India was working on, it aligned with what I was doing. We were really just always on the same page.”
NYU Steinhardt’s student-run record label Village Records — which requires Music Business majors to take a one-semester course — decided to pursue The Blue during the spring. Coincidentally, the Boston-based duo plans to return to Brooklyn in September after having lived there last summer, citing New York’s thriving independent music scene and community of queer artists.
Their latest single, recorded and produced by Steinhardt Adjunct Professor J.C. Losada of Village Records, is in part a reflection on Brooklyn. The track — titled “Brooklyn Red” — is the story of a toxic relationship that plays out in Brooklyn.
“We had [the single] almost fully completed when Village Records reached out to us, so it was an interesting opportunity to rework some things and get some different opinions,” said Shore, a Brooklyn native. “Working with a producer was also something we hadn’t done before, so we had to open up our minds too.”
During the first three weeks of the spring semester, students at Village Records each suggested small-scale artists that the label could potentially work with. After considering criteria such as “clear artistic direction,” “musical quality” and “has already established a following,” the class finally chose The Blue.
“I thought it was really amazing working with people our age who were also good at what they do and so driven,” Shore said. “It’s really nice having a team of people working with you as opposed to just you. It makes everything so much easier. Everyone there is so great at every aspect of the music industry, whether it be A&R or marketing or recording.”
The final product of Village Records’ work this semester was “Brooklyn Red,” a performance booking and a music video to accompany the single. With simple yet elegant choreography and striking visuals, the video for “Brooklyn Red” has several hundred views and counting since its release on April 18.
“The music video was a fun process because it all came together in one week,” Altendahl said. “We had to shoot it in a day, with a big time crush. It was really funny because we had to come to [New York City] from Boston the Friday night before and leave Saturday night. I had to catch a flight the next morning so it was just a crazy 24 hours. Within one week we set the date, figured out the concept and the director, we found the space and then recorded in 10 hours.”
The Blue will headline Brooklyn Bazaar on April 28, their first performance since releasing “Brooklyn Red.” Since the band is currently in the process of recording their second album, The Blue’s collaboration with Village Records came at an opportune time.
“We were shocked when they picked us,” Altendahl said. “I think it’s always a little nerve-wracking to be in front of your peers […] I was really excited to hear what they had to say because they are some of the best minds in the music industry up-and-coming and I think they have a lot of fresh perspectives.”
Members of Village Records who worked with the band found the experience to be valuable. Steinhardt junior Mingsi Ma, this semester’s Marketing Manager for Village Records, said she feels like the Village Records experience has truly allowed her to see all sides of the industry over the course of three months.
“It’s impossible to learn about the music industry solely from the textbook,” Ma said. “Now I can think about all the creative processes as a whole. An internship would provide you a relatively comprehensive understanding of how a specific position [or] department looks like, but probably not a big picture.”
‘‘Brooklyn Red” is available on all major streaming services.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, April 29, 2019 edition. Email Nicole Rosenthal at [email protected].