OC Hit Factory Builds an Academy For Homegrown Pop Stars
When a DJ with 20 number No. 1 Billboard Hits, a producer at Warner Music, and three well established songwriters gather on a Sunday night in Orange County to serve as judges for a music competition, you know it’s for an event that should be on your radar. After a quick red carpet snap at The District in Tustin, OC Hit Factory performers graced the stage to showcase 19 original songs— all of which were written over the course of a weekend songwriting camp at the music and production academy, slash artistic haven for the handpicked and jaw-dropping talented bunch.
OC Hit Factory is the brainchild of recording artist and producer Thomas Barsoe who in 2010 launched a company that just doesn’t exist anywhere else in OC. After moving to the U.S., from Denmark, with his newly wedded wife, an Anaheim native, Barsoe was slated to begin work on his third album. Feeling a bit burned out on his craft after years of touring, he decided to begin teaching master classes.
During this time he would ask principals at various schools throughout Orange County, “Why are we teaching clarinet and flute, but not songwriting?” While working with Keith Hancock, the Choral Music Director at Tesoro High School, Barsoe discovered some of the first artists who would become part of OC Hit Factory. Soon thereafter, he gave a speech at OCSA and connected with an artist who had been auditioning for The X Factor. He brought his X Factor clan to Barsoe’s house, which temporarily served as a songwriting space. After the first official songwriting camp, two sisters—Catrine and Dixie Maxwell— wrote their first song which would run in a Hollywood film during the credits. Barsoe thought, “if it’s possible for a couple of amateurs writing for the first time to get their songs out there in a professional environment, then maybe we should become a publishing company and represent the songwriters and artists.”
By providing music education, songwriting, recording, mixing, mastering, producing, and finally artist management, Barsoe aims to develop extraordinarily talented singers, songwriters, and bands. He’s successfully achieving that and recently becoming a subsidiary of Sony Music Group nods to such. “This was never something that I planned, but I met a handful of teenagers that had tremendous potential and I wanted to see what my experience and business connections could do with that” he says. “I was blown away with how much raw talent there was and continues to be. They might not know exactly how to turn something they write into the structure of a hit song, but they have all the raw material. The material is far better than anything most established writers have, because often they get burnt out.”
As Barsoe continues to add layers to OC Hit Factory such as an exchange program between artists in Orange County and Copenhagen, as well as recurring showcases and red carpet events, he pledges to produce the winning song of the evening. With tracks like “6am” by Matthew John and Joanna Pearl and “Cherry Blossoms” by Ashley Maietta and Gavyn Bailey making it to the final three, “When You Get Back” by Cloi Crider, Ashley Maietta, and Jeremey Grinacoff won the best song of the night. “I was inspired to write a song for my friend Jake, who was flying to NY to have a major surgery on his spinal cord” Crider shared with the crowd.
Inspired by Adele, Melanie Martinez, and Lana Del Rey the 16-year-old singer/songwriter will have her first song published to iTunes next month. Crider, who has been playing the piano since she was five and guitar since she was 13 describes the song being selected as surreal. “My Aunt and cousin were visiting from New Jersey and I was really happy they got to be there. Jake and several of my friends also came to show their support, so it was amazing to win on this particular night.”
Undoubtedly, OC Hit Factory will become a name you are more familiar with as their artists begin to emerge into the music industry. To catch their juniors showcase, save the date for July 10th.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Orange County, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.