My Musical Journey (Part 3)
If you haven’t already, you can catch up on part 1 and part 2. From 2008 to 2010, I was consuming a crazy amount of music. At the time of My Musical Journey Part 3, I had an 80 GB iPod and I had to fill it. At lunch I’d go to The Pirate Bay and download every discography I could find. From Amy Winehouse to Gnarls Barkley, from The Beatles to The Roots and everything in between. I had no filter.
When it came to discovering new artists, daily music blogs and torrents reigned supreme. I spent most of my free time listening to music or writing lyrics. Soon after our first recording session, we realized we needed a name. Labstract was born. For the most part, it was a hobby, but we had worldwide takeover schemes. What we lacked in follow through, we made up for in ideas.
We made a series of gangster rap tracks about parties, the mall, afterparties and sleepovers. We even had an idea for a Gangster Christmas EP. It’s been scheduled for release next holiday season for a while now. To give you an idea of the album’s theme, “Eggnog & Hennessy,” “I Fuks Wit Da Grink” and “Outro (Coal 2 All U MuhFuggaz)” were a few of the track titles.
It wasn’t all gangster rap. Slowly but surely, we made more music. Any time we got together we would create a new song. Again, I wish we had released some of the music at the time and put more effort in to improving. Most of the beats were pitched up soul samples. Lyrically, I focused on wordplay, metaphors and multi syllabic rhyme schemes.
My musical taste and output was dominated by hip-hop. 2008 to 2010 was the last and best 3-year stretch for the mixtape. These days, new artists have to debut with album quality LPs. I still remember my copy of XXL Magazine with the cover of “The 10 Freshmen” in 2009. There were some misses, but for the most part everybody on the cover saw music industry success in some form. The magazine, in publication since 1997, used the list to establish itself as a tastemaker that could break new artists.
In 2011, my taste in music started to balance out. My friends shaped the music I listened to. Indie rock found its way in to steady rotation. The one album that stands out to me is Bon Iver’s self-titled sophomore album. Andrew shared my fandom and made a beat that sampled Bon Iver’s “Michicant.” It was the first song we tried to promote and put out in to the universe (read: upload to the internet.) We received some press from small blogs but the song didn’t gain traction. We continued to make music behind the scenes with the odd upload to Youtube.
Next came the summer of 2012. Two things happened unlike anything I’d ever experienced. First, was the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival – four days and nights of music in the Tennessee heat. Music festivals are like marathons. They’re one of the best ways to enjoy music but they tend to blur together as a single memory. For as long as I can, I’ll go to at least one festival every summer.
The second experience came a couple months later. JagJaguwar announced the Bon Iver Stems Project, a remix contest for the Bon Iver album. It was the perfect opportunity. We already had our entry. I heard about the contest and told Andrew. He mixed the track and uploaded it to the contest page. The next day Justin Vernon listened to our remix and tweeted about it. One of our inspirations liked something we had created – we were ecstatic.
A couple weeks later, we got the confirmation that we had officially won. That meant a spot on the official remix album and $1000. To spend the money, we narrowed our options down to: a) getting a manager, b) filming a music video, c) recording an album or d) starting a record label. We went with D and paid somebody to create a website. That was the first version of Mighty Records. For the most part, it existed in our heads.
The summer of 2013 meant Bonnaroo round 2. Rather than one car of 5 friends we headed south in a convoy of three cars and 10 friends. In the last 3 summers, a festival hasn’t matched the list of artists. I won’t name names instead I’ll the leave you with the lineup. What stands out most is singing along to “Hey Jude” in a field with Paul McCartney and 100,000 people.
At the end of 2013, after scrapping 12 songs in 2012, Luke, Andrew and I finally had an album worth of music. In November, we played our first live show. After years of experiencing live music from the crowd it was cool to be on the other side. Three months and over 40 drafts later, we scrounged up enough money to master the album and release it.
I’m going to fast-forward to my decision to restart Mighty Records as a blog about 6 weeks ago. After years of planning instead of executing, I realized something: a finished product is better than a perfect product that isn’t finished.
I haven’t been this inspired to create since I first picked up a pen and wrote raps every single day. My motivation has shifted from the creative side to the business side of music but I fall pretty close to the middle of the spectrum. As Mighty Records grows, I plan to share as much as I can. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the progress so far. What should I do more of and what should I cut out? Thanks for coming along for the ride! With Mighty Records, our musical journey is just beginning…
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