BPMI Takes Over Brighton Music Hall to Reveal Its 2023 Festival Artists
The Berklee Popular Music Institute (BPMI) will host its 21st annual showcase, featuring seven artists handpicked by its 2023 student cohort, on Wednesday, April 5, at Brighton Music Hall. In just a few months, these artists will be performing on the stages of major music festivals alongside some of the world’s most esteemed artists.
BPMI Live, the institute's three-semester experiential education program, provides students with the opportunity to extend their skills beyond the classroom and into the live music industry. This year’s BPMI Live stars include AWFBEAT, Clifford, JVK, Kieran Rhodes, Tyler Christian, Vivienne Artur, and vivi rincon. Representing genres ranging from alt-pop and folk to hard rock and country, these artists have displayed extraordinary maturity in their vision and showmanship, securing spots at Governors Ball, Faster Horses, and other major festivals to be announced soon.
Led by Morgan Milardo, managing director for BPMI, students in the program undergo months of A&R evaluation to select the artists, combing through hundreds of songs, videos, and live performances. Each artist is then paired with a group of BPMI students who serve as their management team, and together they collaborate on artist development, marketing, promotion, digital presence, merchandising, sponsorships, and tour budgeting.
“The creativity, focus, and spirit in this year’s BPMI Live cohort has been very rewarding for me to witness. I am excited for the students’ hard work to come to fruition with this event,” said Milardo. “They have a real vision and plan that will surely make it a memorable evening for all attendees. And with incredibly unique backgrounds, deep passion for artistry, and amazing talents, the artists selected truly represent what it means to be an emerging artist.”
This year's showcase is sponsored by Citizens Live and presented in partnership with Live Nation New England. Tickets are $10. Brighton Music Hall is located at 158 Brighton Avenue in Allston.
About the Artists
The duo AWFBEAT has emerged as one of the most promising artists in the electronic hip-hop scene. This East Coast rap duo, composed of Grant Glazier and Universal Hunte, reveal their truth through clever punchlines and deep storytelling. Their first single, "Better Than Me," broke two million streams on Spotify and was featured in the Netflix show Boo, Bitch.
Their latest single, "Trinity," is a hip-hop/funk fusion church anthem that provides greater insight into the duo and who they are as individuals. Fusing a myriad of genres to produce feelings of nostalgia and relatability, the young duo is primed to break through in the national music scene.
CLIFFORD epitomizes the infectious nature of progressive/technical deathcore. Having met months before starting college in Boston, band members Drake Plotkin (vocals), Thomas Reuter (guitar), Lucas Koughan (bass), and Luke Green (drums) discovered a shared vision for what would become the band’s debut album, Soulless. Featuring blistering riffs and powerful breakdowns, the album demonstrated the band’s ability to create memorable, technically brilliant music. CLIFFORD’s outlandish sound incorporates a modern edge while maintaining the authenticity fans of deathcore, tech-death, and other extreme metal genres crave. Members of CLIFFORD have studied under David Marvuglio and Joe Stump, and shared stages with Avatar, Jared Dines, and Ryan Bruce of Dragged Under. CLIFFORD's vision is to create songs for their audience to headbang their brains out and lose their minds to.
With the energy and chaos of old-school rock ’n’ roll and a modern touch of sympathy and empowerment, JVK commands the crowd as soon as they step on stage. Lead vocalist Jo Krieger started JVK in Boston as a solo project, and met the other band members—Alix Breda (bass), Troy Welling (drums), Donny DeFala (guitar), and Syd Lane (guitar)—through encounters at local shows. Since opening for Frances Forever in New York and conquering just about every sweaty basement in the Northeast, their loyal audience is showing up to see the band fill bigger and bigger venues. JVK’s debut EP, Hello, Again, best represents the band’s intent to embark with its listeners through an ominous, almost spiritual sonic journey. JVK strives to create music that will leave their listeners feeling confident and empowered, through relatable lyrics combined with memorable guitar riffs.
The songs of Kieran Rhodes songs are, in his own words, “like watching movies,” each one telling a different story and bringing you into a new world for a few minutes. His single "What Got into You," earned him an honorable mention in the 2021 American Songwriter Song Contest. More recently, Kieran became known for his viral audition on season 17 of America’s Got Talent, where he won the hearts of millions around the world, including judges Simon Cowell, Sofia Vergara, Howie Mandel, and Heidi Klum. The audition with his original song "Disengage," which chronicles a heartbreaking battle with depression, became a viral hit on YouTube, garnering over 15 million views. It has been praised Billboard, GoldDerby, and others.
With their raw, inventive, and nostalgic sound, Tyler Christian creates music that inspires listeners to express their stories unapologetically. Tyler has always had the intention of tapping into another atmosphere, blending R&B, pop, and rock to bring you into a world that they describe as “boundless.” At 22 years old, Tyler has studied under Grammy nominee Tia Fuller and opened for Jade Novah, who has worked with Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Lady Gaga. Tyler is also the musical director and frequent featured soloist for the acclaimed Berklee a cappella group Pitch Slapped. Tyler's lyrics explore themes of failed relationships, but sonically they bring listeners into a tear-free zone.
Vivienne Artur is unconventionally building a bridge between authentic country and dark dream pop to deliver an introspective listening experience. Vivienne utilizes songwriting as a way to document and reflect on all parts of her life, from childhood to the present, inspiring her to write vulnerable, relatable, and fragile songs. Taking inspiration from a wide variety of artists including Gracie Abrams, Bon Iver, and Taylor Swift, Vivienne’s unique sound breaks molds and crosses genres while staying true to her country roots. When not in the studio or on stage, Vivienne can be found posting and interacting on TikTok and hosting mini concerts over Zoom for her fans.
A refreshingly raw storyteller, indie pop artist vivi rincon invites her audience along on her journey toward self-acceptance. Though her songs embrace hope, she makes it a point to never leave out any of the messiness: “I give myself permission to be angry,” she says. Growing up with dreams of becoming a Broadway dancer, songwriting became vivi’s escape when dancing became too unhealthy for her mental well-being, and she began to struggle with body image. Today, sharing her experience as a queer woman is another central theme in her art. She explores her personal relationships and the impact of the discrimination her community faces. vivi’s sound is informed by alternative folk, alternative rock, and the Latin pop her parents loved. Her success led to a collaboration with producer Matt Martin and a deal with music distribution company AWAL (Lizzy McAlpine, mxmtoon, Little Simz).
About the Berklee Popular Music Institute
The Berklee Popular Music Institute's BPMI Live program is a one-year program that provides practical access to high levels of the music industry, with a focus on the thriving concert festival circuit. Founded by Jeff Dorenfeld (former manager of the band Boston) and now under the guidance of Morgan Milardo, students learn how to navigate careers in the ever-changing music industry as they hone their skills in artist discovery and development, communication, marketing, promotion, and live music. Curriculum activities are designed in collaboration with today's top industry figures to reflect contemporary trends and practices in the music business. The capstone of the curriculum includes opportunities for students to participate at prestigious festivals and industry conferences. Students travel to festivals such as Lollapalooza, Governors Ball, and Bourbon & Beyond, where they act as artist managers, production and tour managers, and artist media representatives.
BPMI Live serves as a springboard for careers in the music industry. Alumni of the program have gone on to work at Interscope, Capitol Records, DreamWorks, BMG, Universal, Live Nation, AEG Live, Oak View Group, DWP, YouTube, Google, CAA, ICM, Paradigm, WME, Billions, Snapchat, the Lincoln Center, Red Bull, Spotify, Stem, Republic, Red Light Management, Songkick, Kobalt, Sony, Darkroom, and C3. Notable BPMI Live artists include Jackie Foster B.M. ’18 (The Voice), Jobi Riccio B.M. ’20 (Yep Roc Records), Mom Rock, and Lizzy McAlpine ’20, who was featured as the program's first virtual performer during the COVID-19 shutdown, in March 2020.
BPMI Live's program predecessor, Heavy Rotation Records (HRR), was founded in 1995 in an unprecedented deal between Epic and Sony Records. Prior to transitioning the focus to music festivals integration, HRR released 18 albums, including Shekinah: 13 Artists, distributed by Epic; Apollo Sunshine’s eponymous second album, coreleased with spinART; Dorm Sessions 1–13; and Under the Influence. Notable artists who appeared on HRR albums include Annie Clark ’04 (St. Vincent), Shea Rose ’11, Nini & Ben (HAERTS), Big D and the Kids Table, members of Passion Pit (as the Peasantry), Isom Innis ’10 (Foster the People), Amy Allen ’15 (Grammy-winning songwriter on Harry Styles's Harry's House), Madi Diaz ’07, Julia Easterlin B.M. ’14, and Bent Knee.