Local Wire

Scottsdale Duo 76th Street on Winning Best Desk in NPR's Tiny Desk Contest

76th Street in action.
76th Street in action. Beau Horyza / Solo Visuals
Sometimes, all it takes to get your music in front of a new audience is a desk.

76th Street, the Scottsdale pop-rock duo of Spencer Bryant (guitar and vocals) and Haley Gold (keyboard and vocals), can attest to that. The pair entered NPR’s 2019 Tiny Desk Contest and learned in early May that they won the top spot as the fan favorite for Best Desk.

The yearly competition is open to unsigned artists who submit a video with two requirements: The song must be an original and a desk must be visible.

The band had long followed the contest and decided to throw their hat in the ring this year. They submitted a video for their song “Warrior,” a heartfelt, steady rocker that the pair dedicated “to the strong people and heroes in your life.” Together, their voices are hypnotically harmonious, giving the song lushness and depth.

“People that help others are warriors, to us,” says Bryant. “We want to write songs about empowerment and to spread positive messages, and that’s what this song is about.”

About a month after they submitted their video, they made the final cut for the fan favorite award — sixth place out of 6,000 submissions. Shocked and stoked at rising even that far to the top, winning blew their minds completely.

“Oh my gosh,” Bryant says, “we were jumping off the walls over here. It’s such a huge competition and a really big honor to get national recognition through NPR Music — it was a dream come true for us.”

“There’s a picture of our video actually on the main page of their website,” Gold adds. “So, in our mind, we made it, because our faces are on the NPR website.”

The desk in 76th Street’s winning video is more than just a prop to appease contest rules. Bryant and Gold met as children, and by age 10 were performing in school productions together. To create the “Warrior” video, they took a trip to their sixth-grade classroom at Grayhawk Elementary School in Scottsdale and adorned their desk with photographs from their long friendship.

Sticking with one another for so many years has been easy, Gold tells us. “We have such strong chemistry, and we’ve always had it. Especially when you’re writing and creating art together, you have to be so vulnerable that I don’t think it would be an easy thing to do with someone when you don’t have that connection.”

Their combined tenacity and ingenuity helped them with another win this year. In March, the band got to perform as the opening act for singer Laura Pergolizzi — known simply as LP — at her sold-out show at The Van Buren.

“We love LP,” Bryant says. “We have been fans for a long time, and we thought it would be great to open for her. We wanted to do something more creative than just sending an email and asking about the option of getting on the bill. Instead, we wrote a song and made a video. The song was dedicated to her, and in it, we asked if we could join the show.”

They put the finished product on their Instagram and tagged it, and before they knew it, the number of comments topped 300. Eventually, LP got in touch with them.

click to enlarge Winning NPR's Tiny Desk Contest was a dream come true for 76th Street. - BEAU HORYZA / SOLO VISUALS
Winning NPR's Tiny Desk Contest was a dream come true for 76th Street.
Beau Horyza / Solo Visuals
The band says it couldn’t have gone any better. “The crowd was fantastic. People were excited about us, and afterward, we got to meet many of them. It was phenomenal, and so was LP’s performance.”

You can find 76th Street performing around the Valley regularly, especially when they’re not doing things like traveling twice a month to Downtown Disney in Anaheim, California; another coup this year includes a regular gig performing at the tourist hot spot.

Bryant and Gold say they’re in the music business for the long haul, focusing on writing new songs, gathering new fans, opening for bands they like, and ultimately headlining their own tour.

“Our two favorite things are music and traveling," says Bryant, "so anytime we can combine them, it’s a dream.”
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Amy Young is an arts and culture writer who also spends time curating arts-related exhibits and events, and playing drums in local bands French Girls and Sturdy Ladies.
Contact: Amy Young