Rusching for success

By Alice Smelyansky

When Scott Rausch, senior in LAS, filmed his hit single, “Hey Girl,” he thought the music video would reach about 1,000 views on YouTube. Rausch, whose stage name is Scott Rusch, was sorely mistaken. Just three weeks after the release of the video, it reached more than 30,000 views and opened a multitude of musical opportunities for Rusch.

“I called my mom and started screaming on the phone,” said Evan Thompson, Rusch’s manager and 2012 University alumnus. “And then from there, more than anything, it made me realize how quickly I have to move with Scott.”

Thompson met Rusch when the Xtension Chords, of which Rusch is the music director, chose to record an album with him in his basement in Urbana. Rusch worked closely with Thompson during the album recording and later covered a few songs on his own with Thompson.

After Thompson graduated and moved to Las Vegas, Nev., he started his own company, ISO Management, and contacted Rusch about recording some more tracks. Once Tyler Ward Studios accepted Rusch to record in one of their studios in Nashville, Tenn., Rusch went down with Thompson last spring break and recorded “Hey Girl.” Jeremy McCoy, touring bass guitar player for The Fray, produced the single.

In late September, Rusch filmed the music video for “Hey Girl” with Hunter Lyon, a 20-year-old director who previously worked with upcoming artists such as Timeflies.

Though the girl in the video, Kara Fahy, sophomore in FAA, is not the girl Rusch is referencing in the song, the tone of the video is meant to illuminate the feelings he had when he saw the girl for the first time.

Since the creation of the video, Rusch has experienced random students recognizing him on campus, a situation he never thought he would find himself in.

“I’ve never done anything like this; I didn’t know how big it was going to be or how many people were going to see it,” Rusch said. “It’s just kind of crazy.”

Since the video’s release, Rusch has recorded more tracks in a local studio, Pogo Studio, and plans on releasing another single, “Heartbreaker,” in June and a six-song EP around next May.

While Rusch has only recently received an outpouring of attention for his work, he has been performing both on and off campus since childhood. He said his main involvement on campus with the Xtension Chords has shaped his college experience.

“I’ve been the music director for three years,” Rusch said. “It takes a ton of time, but it’s just so much fun. My friends are the Xtension Chords, and I don’t hang out with a lot of other people. You could kind of think of it as a fraternity.”

Tom Ritondale, Xtension Chords member and sophomore in Media, is proud of Rusch’s accomplishments and believes it is a result of his hard work.

“This is something that he’s been really working hard on a lot for the past few years,” Ritondale said. “Especially last year over spring break when he went down to Nashville and recorded the song and wrote it — he played it for a couple of us, but we really didn’t know if anything was going to come out of it. When we heard that they were going through with it, we were all really proud of him and really excited because this is something he’s been working at, and you could see when he’s playing music he just is so happy.”

Though Rusch lives, breathes and sleeps music, there have been moments of frustration and doubt along the way. However, during his junior year, he became more aware of the fact he only had a year left to follow his passion.

“In order to make myself happy, I should at least give music a shot and try to pursue it,” he said. “Other opportunities will always be there, but there is a limited amount of time when you can start trying to pursue a musical career.”

In addition to the support from his fellow members on the Xtension Chords, Rusch’s dad is his main inspiration. As a member of The Other Guys when he attended the University and the choir director of Woodstock High School, Rusch’s dad always shared his love of music with his children. All four of the Rusch boys began playing piano at the age of four and started singing as soon as they could speak.

Yet, whether or not Rusch decides to continue working on his music career, his love for the art will remain the same.

“He’s in the early stages of his artistry where he’s learning where he wants to go,” Thompson said. “More than anything, I don’t want to tell him where he should go. I want him to tell me where he wants to go and have me help him get there. It would not surprise me if a music label signed him in the next three years. But that’s definitely not the only thing we’re going for. If he never gets signed and he’s happy with his music and success, that’s all I care about.”

Alice can be reached at [email protected]