Published: April 29, 2013
The Untz Challenge has always been about discovering the best new producers, and giving up-and-coming electronic artists a jumpstart to their careers. We've always had incredible talent vying for the top positions in our contest, and the battle for the top spot has always been a furious one. But what we at TheUntz.com were never expecting was the incredible camraderie that could come out of a fierce talent competition with such high stakes. And the results were more incredible than we could ever imagine.
As voting hit a fever pitch in our competition late last week, it was clear that GKEN-E, lost optical, and Beat Machine were locked in a three-way race for first place. Three wildly different acts were pushing to claim the top spot in a compeition that would net the winner a slot at TEN major festivals taking place from coast to coast this summer. What's more is that the staff of TheUntz.com had to pick a winner from the general pool who not only produced a wicked track for The Untz Challenge, but gave their best shot at winning the popular vote and really stirred up a dedicated fan base in the process.
When voting closed at 11:59pm PST on Friday, GKEN-E had locked up his first place slot, with lost optical and Beat Machine close behind in second and third place, respectively. After much deliberation, we at TheUntz.com decided that lost optical should be claim the Staff Pick slot. The trio used every method they could to energize their fan base, and when we casually asked who deserved it the most on our Facebook page, the lost optical fans descended on our post with a fervor unseen since the early days of Beatle-mania. So congratulations to lost optical--they'll be hitting the road this summer bent on dominating every festival stage they take.
Which leaves GKEN-E. This perma-grinning young percussionist with an impressive live performance career roused his rabid fan base and the votes started coming in from all over the world from the beginning of the competition. We were moved by the unwavering positivity of this bright young musician from his many Facebook and Twitter posts. What shocked us more than anything else was the burgeoning friendship that we were seeing develop between GKEN-E and the members of Beat Machine, even though they were locked in a dead heat for the winning slot in The Untz Challenge IV.
And what happened next left us speechless. When we called GKEN-E to confirm his victory as the popular vote winner of The Untz Challenge IV, he of course graciously thanked us for the opportunity--ande immediately turned around and said "I want Beat Machine to have some of my slots."
Generously, GKEN-E, the winner of our competition and a strong believer in the positivity, reached out and gifted Beat Machine--who tried so hard and came so close while still maintaining that positive outlook--slots at Summer Camp Music Festival (May 24-26 - Chillicothe, IL), EDC Chicago (May 24-26 - Joliet, IL), Wakarusa (May 30-June 2 - Ozark, AR), Infrasound (May 31-June 2 - Black River Falls, WI), IMPULSE (June 6-9 - Atlanta, GA), The Big Up (Aug 8-10 - Claverack, NY), and ARISE (Aug 14-18 - Loveland, CO). GKEN-E himself will hit Sonic Bloom (June 13-16 – Georgetown, CO), Electric Forest (June 27-30 - Rothbury, MI), and Lightning in a Bottle (July 11-15 - Temecula, CA)
Needless to say, we're blown away by this gesture. But it's a great lesson to all the incredible acts who participated in this year's Challenge. With all the pressure on the artists to go out there and get votes, and the blood, sweat, and tears that goes into producing a solid track, we got to see that all the hard work pays off. And in the end, having a positive attitude really can make all the difference.
We'd of course like to thank all the folks who submitted tracks to our competition, and all the finalists who worked so hard to get in and then get votes. As is tradition, the process of narrowing down our finalists from the hundreds of tracks submitted is grueling because the level of talent, quality, and originality are so high. We encourage everyone to try again next year if you didn't make the cut, and for those who did, we've always got competitions and contests going on so we can find the next great electronic talent. Congratulations go to GKEN-E, lost optical, and Beat Machine. We'll see you out at all the festivals!
And we especially want to thank the fans who voted. Together, we're going to find the next big stars of our scene, and give them that leg up that they deserve. We're always on the prowl for new talent, so stay tuned for The Untz Challenge V, going even bigger and better in 2014.