James and Milo Stedham are two musical brothers who are looking forward to collaborating artistically in the future.
And right now, they find themselves both on the list of B.C.-based artists taking part in this year’s Searchlight competition.
Searchlight is CBC Music’s long-running hunt for Canada’s undiscovered musical talent, which is judged by a combination of audience voting and a panel of celebrity judges.
The first round of online voting for Searchlight opened Tuesday, Feb. 4 and continues until 11:59 a.m. PT on Feb. 13. After the first round of voting, the thousands of entries from across Canada will be pared down to the Top 100.
A new round of voting will begin Feb. 19 and continue until Feb. 25, after which the final 10 contestants will be chosen.
The grand prize winner will be announced March 5 on q at 7 a.m. PT.
Twenty-eight-year-old James Stedham has entered Searchlight as St.James with the song “Countdown.”
James went to high school at Correlieu Secondary School and now works at Douglas College in New Westminster as the studio technician for the school’s recording program.
He had seen the Searchlight competition go on for a couple of years and, as a recording engineer, he has worked with a few artists who entered the contest in the past, and he says this is the first time he decided to enter something of his own.
“I kind of just picked something that I felt like represented my personal tastes the best out of the music that I make,” he said of how he chose which song to enter. “I do many different genres of music. I would say I am mainly a hip hop producer, but of the music I like to make myself, I like it to be a little more nostalgic and synth-y.”
For James, entering the contest is mainly about getting himself out there.
“I don’t really post a lot of my own music, or I haven’t in a while, so I kind of want to get back into making my own music and posting my own music again, so this is a good opportunity to force myself to do that and get started again and get back on the radar,” he said. “Even if I don’t win or something, then at least I’ve gotten my music out there to a few people, and maybe a few more people will like my pages and more people will listen to what I release in the future as well.”
James started playing music as a teenager.
James moved to Quesnel when he was in Grade 9 and graduated from Correlieu Secondary School.
When James moved to Quesnel, he met one of his best friends, and they started making music together. From about 2007 to 2010, James played a lot of music, and his band The Sky Venture performed shows at the Elks Hall in Quesnel and in Prince George. Back then, he would record them using an old laptop and a Rockband microphone.
“We had a lot of classmates who also enjoyed making music, and we were all in the guitar class at Correlieu, Mr. Smith’s guitar class,” he said. “He was always really good to us; he gave us space to practise at lunch time and stuff like that. From there, we started rehearsing at one of my friend’s houses, we kind of took over the entire basement as our band practice room for years.”
After graduating from high school, James worked a few jobs he didn’t exactly love, and he decided he wanted to do something that interested him more, so he went to school for audio engineering. When he finished his program, he realized he loved producing and recording music.
James says most of his work comes from making connections within the music community.
“Once you’re in it, it’s very easy to connect with other people and to share your skills and either hire people to do stuff with you or get work from them,” he said. “I’ve been really fortunate, I’ve worked with indie rock bands, I’ve worked with a lot of rappers — that’s kind of my main thing — and a lot of those connections were also made while I was in school here at Douglas College, so it was a good networking experience there.”
James is excited that his younger brother has entered Searchlight too.
“I think it’s really cool,” he said. “Him and I are going to start working together in the future more as a duo, not this year, but he’s a rapper and I’m a producer, so I make beats and stuff like that, and I’m a recording engineer and mixing engineer as well, so it’s going to be more of a collaboration in the future, and I’m excited about that. I think we’re going to make some really cool stuff together. I’m really excited that he’s posted something as well because I know he’s got a lot of people in Quesnel who really like his music and listen to it all the time.”
Milo can be found in the Searchlight competition through his artist name gucciguymilo, and he has entered a song called “Tennessee.”
Milo is 18 and is in Grade 12 at Correlieu Secondary School. He previously attended Voyageur Elementary School and Quesnel Junior School.
Milo says he first got into music because of his brother.
“I’ve been doing it for two years now, I think,” he said. “Before that, I never really cared to make music.”
That changed as he grew older, and Milo sees the Searchlight competition as a way to get his music out to more people.
“I kind of just wanted to get out there I guess and actually do something with my music,” he said, adding “it’s cool, kinda weird” to be in the competition. “If more people know who I am, that would be cool. If not, I’ll just keep doing it.”
Milo says he gets a lot of his song ideas from his friends and brother.
“I write it and record it,” he said. “It’s hard sometimes though —sometimes I’ll take three months to make a one-minute song.”
Milo chose his song “Tennessee” for the competition.
“I used my newest song because I thought it sounded the best,” he said. “And it’s kind of catchy.”
Once he graduates, Milo would like to go farther with music and “make it more than just a hobby.”
Like James, Milo thinks it is cool to have his brother in the competition too.
“He always wants to make music with me, so it’s cool,” he said.
To vote for James Stedham, search “Countdown” by St.James at cbc.ca/musicinteractives/searchlight.
To vote for Milo Stedham, search “Tennessee” by gucciguymilo at cbc.ca/musicinteractives/searchlight.
You can vote once per day, and the voting platform resets every day at 12 a.m. PT.