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mtvU Woodie Awards seeks to honor new artists

The mtvU Woodie Awards show comes to Austin, Texas late March. Established in 2004, the Woodie Awards center around finding original musical indie voices within the past 10 years. Executive Producer Ryan Kroft said that the show was about musical discovery and the connections between artists and young fans.

“It’s where you discover the artists that you will love forever,” Kroft said.

The name of the award, “Woodie,” is based on tradition among indie labels of presenting bands that never received gold or platinum plaques with wooden plaques. Kroft said that, when naming the show back in 2004, mtvU wanted to emphasize indie artists on their way to success.

“The trajectory of artists has changed a little bit, which is cool,” Kroft said. “Artists are now seeing the show as a launching pad whereas early on it was more just a showcase of indie bands.”

As an mtvU award, the Woodies are geared towards university youth. They aim to connect college-aged fans with their favorite musicians. “We’ve always tried to stay true to the idea of an mtvU award,” Kroft said. “We want to know, what’s the music college students love?”

The Woodie awards have indeed launched many careers, including those of Iggy Azalea, whose first televised performance of “Fancy” took place on the Woodie Awards, and Sam Smith. This year, the Artists to Watch category holds many hopefuls, including Rae Sremmurd, Raury, MisterWives, Kygo, James Bay and Years & Years. Hoodie Allen is also a nominee for the Best Co-Sign award.

Artists reacted with joy and gratitude upon nomination. The duo Rae Sremmurd spoke laughingly of their reactions. “It felt like I had just won the lottery. I said, ‘What?’ I jumped up and down and spilled my Starbucks and everything.”

Rae Sremmurd, a group of two young men whose songs “No Type” and “No Flex Zone” have become wildly popular, said they drew their inspiration from daily experiences.

“[We want to rap about] travelling the world — freedom and also girls,” the two men said, laughing. “[We’re] always going to be talking about girls, it’ll just be older women instead!”

Rae Sremmurd also spoke with The Cavalier Daily about the messages they wanted to send younger fans, capitalizing on the mission of the Woodie Awards and its relationship with young college students.

“Love who you are, know your values,” they said. “You’re on top of the world. Things are going good, things could be worse. You go right out there and keep that smile on your face.”

Musician Raury also had advice to share with young college students.

“It’s not too late to chase your dreams,” Raury said. “It’s never too late. Have a plan B, but pay attention to your plan A.”

Raury, whose EP “Indigo Child” has gained wide acclaim, will be releasing his highly anticipated album this year. He spoke with awe about the future and what would be in store for his career.

“This has been wishful thinking for so long,” Raury said. “I’m extremely grateful to be here and to be nominated for awards like this.”

Hoodie Allen, whose unconventional beginning as a musician has been widely talked about by members of his fanbase, also spoke of his happiness at being nominated and shared advice with college students who were considering musical careers. While he advised students to take risks in pursuit of their dreams, he also stressed the idea of staying true to oneself.

“[Don’t] rush out on something that you don’t believe in one-hundred percent,” Allen said. “You only get so many first impressions … put out music that you actually believe in.”

Allen, who was nominated for his work with Ed Sheeran, spoke of his enjoyment of the collaboration as well, and his hopes for future collaborations with other artists.

“Ed was a dream,” Allen said. “I’m lucky to have him as a friend. In terms of other people? I don’t know, I would say, maybe Justin Timberlake [in the future].”

Allen was very vocal about the benefits of his college experience in changing the way he approached his music.

“My college experience has really translated into my new career,” Allen said. “I’ve had a nontraditional path to get to where I am now, and a lot of it has to do with taking chances … having faith in yourself. Our responsibility as artists is to put out a positive message for those who look up to us.”

Interviews with nominees were also lighthearted at times.

The bass player of MisterWives William Hehir, said cheerfully, “We’re all still pinching ourselves,” and spoke of locking one of his fellow members in a treehouse for several hours in response to a question on musical inspiration.

When asked to speak about other artists they admired among the nominees, Rae Sremmurd first crowed, “Oh man, yes,” and then quickly asked, “Wait, who are the other nominees?”

The new artists to watch for the mtvU Woodie awards are diverse and passionate. All are well-deserving of the coveted Woodie. Live streaming for the event begins 9 p.m. March 20 for those who cannot come to Texas. Voting for award categories is open at