Article by Matt Dippel | Owl Staff
Most of the alums profiled in the Reconnect with Harford have gone on to live successful and respectful lives with various careers in places around Maryland and beyond; but how many HCC alums can say they are in a band and direct music videos? Well, Henry Basta can for one.
After attending HCC and getting his A.A. in Mass Communication, Basta moved onto Towson and then graduated with a degree in Video Editing. Somewhere in between there, Basta and his friend Jay Karolenko started the band Sharpened Crayons, which has become a creative outlet for the pair to make music courtesy of Karolenko, and videos directed by Basta.
Basta likens the sound of Sharpened Crayons to “Judge Joe Brown, if he was a musician.” The accuracy of that might be clouded by its abstractness, but according to Basta, it sounds cool nonetheless.
My personal take is that they are a synth-pop outfit with heavily autotuned vocals, and while that usually creates a recipe for disaster, the clever videos and witty lyrics exude a self-aware charm that most pop artists desperately lack.
Sharpened Crayons has created around 30 music videos, but some have gained much more exposure than others. Their first major breakthrough was a video they recorded for PBS to promote the network’s online network. From there. Cook Library at Towson sent out a request for a video to promote the library, and Basta and Karolenko’s creation was the obvious stand-out.
From there, the marketing department at Towson approached Sharpened Crayons and hired the duo to create a music video promoting the University. The result was “I Tell ‘Em Towson University, H a video filmed over four months between classes. featuring every area and perk of TU one could imagine, wrapped up in a synth-poppy package with more hooks than a tackle box.
With over 30,000 YouTube views, “I Tell ‘Em Towson University” has become their most widespread and popular video, and has garnered them quite a bit of attention, quite a feat for a band that started out as two friends messing around.
Previously an English tutor here at HCC. Basta recently accepted a full-time job in the registrar office back at Towson University, essentially coming full circle back to where he started.
For aspiring video producers, Basta advises those to utilize a resource available right here at Harford: Wayne Hepler. Basta speaks extremely fondly of Hepler, and encourages students to take his classes to get a taste of what the field offers. He also says that if you have any interest, just try it! “Even if you fail, you tried.”
Given the Towson theme of the handful of Sharpened Crayons videos, I asked Basta if he had any words for people thinking of transferring or attending TU. His answer, while concise, is as spot-on as it could ever be: “Just watch the video!”