Fresh Sounds – WSU Students Launch Old Main Records Label to Support Emerging Artists

The WSU student-run label and organization will host a multimedia launch event Jan. 17 in Detroit.

A new homegrown record label will cultivate fresh sounds in the Motor City.

Known as Old Main Records, the Wayne State University (WSU) student-run label and organization will help local, regional and national artists record, release and perform original music.

“The idea of actually doing a record label at Wayne State as a student organization had been around for a while since I was a freshman taking the classes. People would say, ‘Oh, it would be great if it happened,’ but nobody actually really did it,” said Brendan Derey, Old Main Records president and a music business senior.

“Another friend and I actually did start it together. Over the summer, we got a small group of people in the room talking about our ideas, and then it snowballed from there.”

Today, Old Main Records has 20 student members, including three other leads besides Derey – Patrick Norton, creative director; Christopher Simpson, social media and marketing director; and David Jackowicz, recording and distribution director.

Named after and housed in the iconic 19th century WSU academic building at Cass and Warren avenues, Old Main Records also partners with two WSU Department of Music lecturers Jeremy Peters and Michael Shellabarger.

“One of the things we’re trying to do with the label is create a hub. One of the benefits of being a Wayne State student organization is that there are a lot of people with a lot of different backgrounds, whether that’s art, film, business, music tech or music business,” Derey said. “There are just a ton of people around who are willing to do this kind of grassroots organization.”

Patrick Norton and his Dirt Room bandmates are helping students work through the process of signing an artist to the label. Photo by Matt Hamilton

With a team in place, Old Main Records is currently setting up the independent label’s infrastructure, accepting and reviewing artist submissions, applying for grants and creating internal processes. It also will provide students with opportunities in event promotion, marketing, recording and distribution and launch a crowdfunding campaign soon.

“They want to turn this into a class or an outlet for music business majors to use. It helps everybody out because part of the goal of the record label is to give resources out to artists,” said Norton, a music technology senior and director of do-it-yourself (DIY) Detroit music-art space Nice Place. “We’re really looking to help build the local community and give promotional and marketing support to artists.”

To demonstrate that support, Norton’s band Dirt Room, a Detroit experimental indie rock quintet, is serving as a pilot artist for Old Main Records. Along with Norton, Dirt Room bandmates Samuel Sprague, Simon Sprague, Cam Frank and Matt Hagger are helping students work through the process of signing an artist to the label.

Dirt Room is also featured on a “Nice Plays: Local Detroit Underground” Spotify playlist, which includes dozens of emerging Motor City artists across a multitude of genres. All artists added to the playlist have submitted their music for consideration to Old Main Records.

As Old Main Records finalizes its first round of artists to sign, it will host a multimedia launch event in partnership with Nice Place and feature live music and visual art Jan. 17 at St. Andrew’s Church in Detroit. Dirt Room, The Stools, Mac Saturn and Craig Garwood will perform at the label’s event.

“We’re taking twice as much time to do every small step now with the label, so in the future, these will be easy processes, and everybody will know what to do going forward,” Derey said. “We’re hoping for January and February to start recording projects with those groups, and then have our first releases as well coming down this year.”

Finally, Old Main Records will partner with WSU to preserve and digitize an extensive catalog of audio archives that date back to the ‘30s. It will be a multi-year project to convert audio recordings on cassette, vinyl and wire to digital formats for future preservation.

For details about Old Main Records, visit the label’s Facebook and Instagram pages. Interested artists also can submit their music for consideration to oldmainrecordssubmissions@gmail.com. General label inquiries can be sent to oldmainrecords@gmail.com.

Multi-Dimensional – Detroit’s Carter Erickson Straddles 2 Creative Worlds on New ‘Columbia’ EP

Carter Erickson performs at a MusicTown Detroit open mic night.

As an emerging hip-hop artist, Carter Erickson travels between two different creative dimensions – Detroit and Columbia.

In Detroit, he combines catchy beats, raps and melodies with personal experiences to share with growing crowds at open mic nights and DIY shows.

In Columbia, Erickson becomes the main character, Booker DeWitt, from the “BioShock Infinite” video game and battles racism and elitism in the namesake fictional dystopian society.

Together, those two creative dimensions lay the foundation for Erickson’s latest EP, “Columbia,” an immersive six-track hip-hop, role-playing game-like (RPG) experience that dropped last week on all major streaming platforms.

“These songs are based on real-life experiences that I’ve had, but they also coincide with certain elements of the game,” said Erickson, aka Eric Carter. “When you play the game, you don’t know what the character looks like because it’s first-person. For me, this EP is more about how I felt playing this character.”

Downloading ‘Columbia’

Columbia EP

Immersed in his musical RPG world, Erickson takes Booker DeWitt to another level on “Vanishing Point,” the first sci-fi, synth-filled single from “Columbia.” He combines Booker DeWitt’s persona with Kowalski, the main character from the 1971 cult car film, “Vanishing Point.”

“They both feature two guys who have nothing to lose and are working toward this goal. All in all, they both don’t get there,” he said. “At the end of ‘Vanishing Point,’ the main character needs to get to California by 3 p.m., and he’s got this beautiful 1970 Dodge Challenger. In ‘BioShock Infinite,’ a guy has  been tasked with trying to find a woman’s father. He eventually learns he’s her father, but in a different universe.”

Erickson’s sonic travels continue through “The Handbook” and “Cha$e” and allow listeners to draw deeper parallels between his personal experiences and “BioShock Infinite.”

On “The Handbook,” Erickson introduces a slow, introspective jam about how actions have consequences, whether good or bad. “I thought it was something everyone could relate to cause as humans we all have run ‘what-if’ scenarios through our heads regarding one thing or another, and sometimes the perpetual regret we live with and/or die with no matter the outcome we choose.”

For the “Cha$e,” Erickson opens the EP’s closing drack with deep synth beats reminiscent of early ‘80s Atari music. The track was influenced by an earlier portion of the “BioShock” video game series that intersected with Erickson’s life.

“When I first played it, it was almost like a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ kind of moment, which is wherein it intersects with life. You know, one day you’re eating cereal watching Saturday morning cartoons, and the next thing you know, you’re graduating high school and/or college, and then life pretty much happens,” he said.

“When I wrote ‘Cha$e,’ I wanted to define this same approach with the harsh instrumental, but the lyrics sort of glide over it, and this is like a metaphor for life and people. Meaning, life can be tough, but as long as you keep a positive outlook, everything will be OK.”

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Detroit’s Nice Place Hosts ‘Punx ‘N Funx’ Show with Emerging Music, Visual Art Tonight

Funx ‘N Punx show poster by Peter Kotas

Nice Place will host a bevy of “Punx ‘N Funx” music along with emerging art in Detroit at 6:30 p.m. tonight.

Located at 70 Glynn Ct., the Motor City creative workspace will feature the music of Ape Not Kill Ape, Summer Like The Season, Space Trash, Jemmi Hazeman & The Honey Riders and Bryni Makiko as well as pop-up visual art from Jacob Waymaster (aka Synefeld), Zach Wendt, Isabel Leader and Sam Welsing of Blueberry Thrift.

“I want every musical act, every artist to work off each other’s creative synergies and styles. I’m excited about the eclectic nature of the show and believe the performers will complement one another in a unique way,” said Patrick Norton, organizer and manager at Nice Place and guitarist for Dirt Room. “I’m eager to see the different scenes from around the city come out of the woodwork and step outside of their social circles.”

Ape Not Kill Ape

For the “Punx” side of music, Ape Not Kill Ape, a Grand Rapids post-punk trio, will perform raw fist-pumping tracks from their 2017 full-length debut, “Bushman.” Adis Kaltak, (vocals, bass), Brett Dame (guitar) and Allen McAllister (drums) will bring an introspective, primal feel to connect with the crowd at Nice Place.

“We’re pretty confident about a lot of the ‘Bushman’ material,” said Kaltak, who was born in Slovenia and grew up listening to Bosnian music, ABBA and The Beatles. “We’re going to do the bulk of some new stuff for our 30-minute set along with two or three older songs.”

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‘Just Like the Sun’ – Indy’s From Elsewhere Make First Detroit Appearance Sunday Night, Release Brilliant Debut EP

Indy’s From Elsewhere released their debut EP, “Just Like the Sun,” on Friday.

 

Indianapolis’ From Elsewhere will bring their vibrant indie rock to the Motor City Sunday night.

The burgeoning trio will make their live Detroit debut at Nice Place, 70 Glynn Ct., starting at 6 p.m. with Merga, Anomaly and Carter Erickson. The show also will feature artwork from local visual artists.

“It’s going to be a mixed genre show with some hip hop,” said Nikhil Ramani, From Elsewhere’s vocalist and guitarist who originally hails from Chennai, India. “I’m really excited for Sunday because it’s going to be a good community of artists.”

Along with bandmates Travis Lee (bass) and Luke Duckworth (drums), Ramani will share tracks from their sparkling debut EP, “Just Like the Sun,” which dropped Friday.

The shimmering six-song EP features an eclectic mix of shoegaze and alternative rock – think Death Cab for Cutie, Smashing Pumpkins, Slowdive and Snail Mail rolled into one. The band recorded the EP over three days in late August, early September at Russian Recording in Bloomington, Ind., with Ben Lumsdaine.

With shiny guitar tones, solid bass lines and pulsating drumbeats, “Just Like the Sun” illuminates the dreariest Midwestern winter morning and creates a vivid, laid-back summer afternoon in the mind’s eye. From Elsewhere’s first two brilliant singles, “The Color Yellow” and “Collective Thoughts,” dropped earlier this fall.

“A lot of the EP is about finding yourself, your self-identity and a little bit of loneliness and sadness, just all human emotion basically,” said Ramani, who formed From Elsewhere with Lee and Duckworth in June. “Each song on the EP isn’t about strictly one particular theme or thing, it’s kind of a mix.”

Continue reading “‘Just Like the Sun’ – Indy’s From Elsewhere Make First Detroit Appearance Sunday Night, Release Brilliant Debut EP”