Junior Varsity - Header Image

RIYL: Jean Dawson, BROCKHAMPTON, Dominic Fike, Paris Texas

It’s pretty much unheard of for a musician to make such a stir in the music industry without ever releasing a song, but the LA-based rock duo Junior Varsity somehow managed to build up the hype like no other.

Since the release of their debut single “Cold Blood” in mid-April, college friends turned bandmates Greg Aram and Zach Michel have risen from underground artists to over 400,000 monthly listeners across platforms. But how did they do it? 

Up until last month, the duo’s music lived only in the public consciousness – a few short snippets in the background of an Instagram post, like the one below, or performed live at an underground show.

 

Taking a total of two years of music promotion, Greg and Zach hosted a number of secret pop-up ragers in major cities before the pandemic. The concert series, “A F$*KING WEEKEND,” was in collaboration with adjacent artists Jean Dawson, London O’Connor, Quiet Luke, Hearts<3 and more, with the event addresses released only to a select number of people who texted their number. 

Junior Varsity - A FS*KING WEEKEND

In an era of social media, music releases can often feel rushed and inorganic – something that’s expected in our attention economy, but nonetheless is disheartening in an industry supposed to be centered around music and humanity. Aware of this tension, Junior Varsity rejected the notion of speedy digital releases, instead living for the slow-burn of in-person promotion, even if that meant sacrificing instant gratification. But why

In an interview with Complex Magazine, Greg of Junior Varsity reveals that they wanted to push back against traditional artist narratives and move away from music as some promotional act. 

I wanted people to be a part of this beyond just industry heads, because that shit is wack as f*ck. For us, it was just like let’s build Junior Varsity as a world.” 

He added that “music is at the centerpiece of it all, but it shouldn’t be the only thing . . . we want people to know who Junior Varsity is without hearing the music.” 

Junior Varsity - A F$*KING WEEKEND

Intentionally or not, rejecting traditional marketing schemes became a successful marketing scheme in itself. By centering the music around the people and in-person events instead of social media stats and streaming platforms, Junior Varsity has created an air of exclusivity around the music, one where you have to be on the “in-group” to get the full experience. This brilliant music roll-out strategy left industry-heads, prominent music blogs and every day fans at the edge of seats, asking: Who is this mysterious duo hosting these pop-up ragers? And with all the build-up, will they ever be able to live up to the hype? 

Thankfully, Junior Varsity lived up to be even better than the hype, shaking up the rock scene with their heavily anticipated debut single “Cold Blood,” a rambunctious track that blurs line between grunge-rock and hip-hop.

Inspired by the paranoia of everything that could go wrong in life – whether that’s a friend betraying you, your girlfriend shooting you in the chest, or getting arrested the cops – this song possesses the gritty, anti-establishment feel of Y2K pop-punk, building upon this nostalgia by incorporating softer, lo-fi elements of DIY hip-hop. There is an abrasive yet chilled-out attitude to this track, one that listeners can really immerse themselves in, feeling every single angsty but self-aware lyric. This same kind of energy is mirrored in the visuals of music video below. 

Both the song and the video include a number of references to a moment earlier this month when the duo was apprehended by the LAPD for a public stunt where they covered the Hollywood sign with a picture of a cow (hence the album art cover) and lyrics about a cop shocking him with a taser. 

With such a phenomenal release, and plans to release more music and throw concerts abroad post-COVID, this duo is prepared for world domination. 

Be sure to follow Junior Varsity on Instagram and Spotify to keep-up-to-date on their latest tracks and in-person events.