Every band has a beginning. For Sound Proof, it all started with a Carly Rae Jepsen cover in high school.
Ethan Jones, Chris Lee and Matt Mahfood– or Sound Proof, as they’re more commonly known– sang together in an a cappella group in high school and have been a part of each other’s lives and making music together ever since.
Since coming to Belmont and reconnecting as a group, the band’s sound has changed from pop covers to a self described “overdrive of masculine music that really makes makes everybody happy,” said Lee.
Unlike most bands formed in college, Sound Proof has the unique advantage of familiarity. They’ve been friends, roommates and collaborators for years, so working as a group comes naturally.
Jones and Lee, both juniors, came to Belmont in 2013. In 2014, when it was time for Mahfood to pick a school, his two friends made the choice easy. Though all three of them originally planned to pursue careers as solo artists, when they sat down and played together they realized what they had as a group trumped going solo.
The biggest struggle for the group has been finding a unique sound. Drawing from influences like 90s boy band Boyz II Men, Sound Proof is a musical mixture of Lee, Jones and Mahfood’s different personal backgrounds. The mixture of influences, from Caribbean to Atlanta R&B, makes Sound Proof distinctive.
“There’re not a lot of people doing what we’re doing. An African-American boyband? There aren’t many out there,” said Lee.
The trio performed in the Best of the Best showcase in the spring of 2015 with CVM, and since then, they’ve known that performing their own music at a showcase was the next step for them as artists.
“After performing in showcase and seeing what it was about and seeing the artists, we definitely were like ‘okay, we’ve got a shot at this,’” said Lee. “We’ve just got to let the work do the work because we’ve done the work. We’ve practiced, we’ve rehearsed; by the time we get on stage, all we’re worried about is letting the audience in on who we are and how we think.”
All three members of Sound Proof were raised in the church, said Jones, but they make an interesting distinction of genres.
“We very much consider ourselves not necessarily Christian artists but artists that are Christians,” said Jones.
Sound Proof works to make music that agrees with their beliefs but is still accessible.
“There’s nothing in our music that would be contrary to what Christ would say. It’s just a real life situation,” said Lee.
This is evident in their lyrics and their consciousness of what message their songs are promoting. It’s more than just ‘what are we saying,’ but also a question of ‘why are we saying this,’ said Mahfood.
The band has been together officially for a little over a year, and they’re itching to show Belmont what they’re capable of. Saturday’s performance isn’t so much about winning as it is making their mark on the Belmont community, said Lee.
“It’s a cesspool of all these talented and incredible people coming out to showcase and if they vibe with us, even if we lose, that’ll be the biggest thing for me,” said Jones.
In the midst of the excitement of performing for such a large audience, the group makes it clear that friendship and the collective experience is the most important thing, not the potential notoriety.
“At the end of the day, if all we did was have this night together as friends, that would still be way more fulfilling,” said Lee.
Sound Proof will perform Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Urban/Pop Showcase in the Curb Event Center.
Article by Paula Ramirez. Photo by Marisa Boras.