Dalhousie band The Royal Thymes bow out of a shot at $10,000

Matt Gallant, left, percussion, Adam Hewey, acoustic guitar, rapper Zack Gelmon, Stephanie Kerzner on keyboards and lead vocalist Jordie Hamilton set up for a live recording. Photo: Julia Manoukian

A stew of jazz, funk, soul, blues and pop wafts down the street.

In wood-paneled basement on Oakland Street that’s reminiscent of their old-school jazzy vibe, The Royal Thymes record a live music video of their song “Universal Truth.”

The video helped the Thymes make it into the top 100 in CBC’s recent contest for university musicians, Rock Your Campus.

On Oct. 16, voters selected the top ten bands and none of the contenders from the Atlantic Provinces made the cut.

Members of the Thymes say their focus now is to create new music.

“We’re working on some new songs and discovering new styles with the goal of playing more shows around Halifax and on Dal campus,” says Jordie Hamilton, who sings lead vocals.

“Everyone’s strengths have emerged in this process,” adds Adam Hewey, who plays acoustic guitar.

The Royal Thymes formed in a Dalhousie residence three years ago, when Sam Kerzner, the rhythm guitarist, was enticed by a voice he heard down the hallway. That voice belonged to Jordie Hamilton.

The two started writing music with keyboard player Stephanie Kerzner. The Thymes won the Dal’s Got Talent contest in 2012 and have released two EPs, Eastbounded and Universal Truth.

It’s difficult to slot the Thymes’ into a single genre, but Hamilton, Stephanie Kerzner and Hewey agree that “eclectic pop or rock” sums up their style best.

The band had scrapped the song “Universal Truth” until they met rapper Zack Gelmon, a third-year Dal psychology student from Calgary who wrote a few verses and added a new edge to the song.

“It was the coolest, the cleanest,” says Hamilton, a fourth-year management student from Toronto.

Modeled on the CBC’s Searchlight competition, the contest offers the winning band $10,000, a chance to enter into a one-year contract with a YouTube multi-channel, studio time and a concert on the winner’s campus.

The Royal Thymes lead vocalist Jordie Hamilton warms up for an open mic performance in his home on South Street. A Dalhousie Impact award for the band’s performance at Dal’s Got Talent two years ago hangs on the wall. Photo: Julia Manoukian

On Oct. 27, a panel of celebrity judges, which included Max Kerman of the band Arkells and Talia Schlanger, voice of CBC Radio 2 Weekend Morning, chose the winning band – McGill University’s Busty and the Bass. There were about 250 entries.

“I find the best way to do well is to ignore everyone else and just do things your own way,” says Kerzner, who’s in her second year of law school. “Concentrate on what we’re doing and don’t compare it to any one else.”

Even though the Thymes did not win, “we all have this heightened sense of excitement” about making music, says Hewey.

And excitement about music is what CBC hopes Rock Your Campus will promote.

“We want to focus on artistry, great songs, great music, and people that may not be appealing to commercial or mass audiences,” says the contest’s managing producer, Nicolle Weeks.

Hamilton says it’s up to young artists to support each other.

“Not everyone likes listening to music, not everyone likes playing hockey, not everyone likes watching baseball, not everyone has to do anything, but you have to push yourself about what you’re passionate about.

“If you see yourself as a music lover it’s your duty to support the music industry, otherwise there won’t be any music to love.”