Over the past few years as we've grown in the music scene in and around Colorado, we've been faced with both personal challenges and business obstacles that we've had to overcome to get to where we are today. As a collective group of artists and musicians first, we've seen the struggle and I know I'm not the first to say this, but.... the struggle is real!
Colorado is full of aspiring artists who often find themselves asking the same questions. What do I have to do to get heard? How do I get on shows? Who do I talk to? Where do I even start? For us as a company it's hard to answer these questions and we get them all the time. Collectively, the only answer for getting where you need to go lies within yourself. How far are you willing to go? How hard are you willing to push? What will drive you? With these questions in mind we decided it might be best to sit down with a current up and comer in the Colorado scene to see what it's like and how one might be able to overcome the obstacles all local musicians might face.
If you haven't heard of Krushendo aka Karlyle Walker yet we highly suggest you check him out as soon as you can as he's towards the top of our "Must Watch" list for 2017. In the last 3 months alone he's played shows at the Aggie, the Scarlet, Black Box, Cervantes, Herman's Hideaway, and Hodi's Half Note, booked himself for multiple festivals, and won a spot to play at Summer Camp Music Festival in May. Not bad for less than 100 days. We had the chance to sit down with Karlyle in the middle of his packed schedule on the cusp of yet another competition he's entered for untz.com. Details for voting are listed after the interview.
Colorado Culture (CC):Tell us a little bit about yourself! Where are you from? What brought you to Colorado?
Krushendo (K): I am from Santa Monica, CA, I have lived in California, Oklahoma, Utah, and Colorado in the past 25 years. I moved to Colorado with my Mom in 10th grade back in 2000.
CC: What does culture mean to you? How would you define that culture in relation to CO?
K: Sometimes people define culture within their workplace, or the cities music district, I define it with the interactions you have on a everyday basis. Colorado’s culture is a wonderfully vibrant variety of everything you could want.
CC: With a background in art and web design how did you get into music? How long have you been producing for?
K: Old school skate videos used to get me amped up for our daily sessions back in high school and most of my music stems from that in someway, Jurassic 5, Dj Shadow, and The Living Legends got me started producing hip hop beats with Fruity Loops 8. I started playing guitar around the same time but never really got music theory down and I picked up a lot of bad habits. It’s funny, without electronic music, I would never understand what key a song is just by listening or even know what tempo is.
CC: If you could only name 5 albums that got you through your childhood and influenced your love of music what would they be?
K: I’m 30 years old now so I think this list is different than you may be expecting haha.
- Green Day - Dookie
- Muse - Absolution
- Dj Shadow - Endtroducing
- Weezer - The Blue Album
- Radiohead - Paranoid Android and Kid A (can’t do 1)
CC: Who are your 5 favorite artists right now and why?
1) Illenium - He mixes a variety of styles and is really a brilliant musician, his sound is SO clean, you just don’t know how much automation and tweaking goes into making something sound THAT good.
2) Said The Sky - If you like Illenium you will probably like Said The Sky, he stuff is more drum and bass/trap influenced but he is definitely #2 on my list.
3) Toy Box - I dig the Future Bass/Trap stuff quite a bit and I would say that Toy Box and Illenium are what influence my music the most today.
4) Lucid Vision - If you don’t know about Mile High Sound Movement, you should. They are the best label in Colorado and maybe in the US, they are an artist run commune of like minded people making the best music you can hear. Lucid Vision has an eclectic array of styles and plays live guitar on some of his tracks which I plan to do at most my next shows. He has more of a future funk, electro funk, and glitch hop style.
5) Homemade Spaceship - Another Mile High Sound Movement, similar to Lucid Vision but more hip hop, trap, and dubstep influenced. Lucid Vision and Homemade Spaceship are on my ‘to watch’ list.
CC: How would you define the music scene in CO? How has it changed since you’ve been here?
K: It’s definitely changing in a big way, I used to go to Beta Nightclub and see Rabbit and The Moon or ATB and that scene was huge. Colorado is on the absolute cutting edge and is pushing musicians to be more innovative and less dominated by what real pop culture likes.
CC: How would you describe the current state of electronic music in CO? From where it’s come from to where you see it going.
K: If you live in Colorado, Pretty Lights and Bassnectar were cool to you in 2010 (they still are to me but I’m trying to make a point). The progression is just insane and it also creates a melting pot of some of the most diverse and talented artists you can find on the planet.
CC: What’s been your biggest struggle as an up and coming artist in the current scene? What advice could you give to other aspiring musicians trying to follow in your footsteps?
K: My biggest struggle was getting myself out there initially and getting gigs, it's sort of a combination of things, and not nearly as simple as I thought. I would highly recommend trying to gather photos and videos via Facebook. Have your friends share stuff from their phones or get a friend who's dabbling in photography to come take some shots. Sometimes it's not as important that you ARE good, its that you also LOOK like your good. Presentation is everything, get album artwork, don’t ignore social media, and make sure to network with your fellow musicians. People ignore the fact that other musicians are actually on your team and you really aren’t ‘paired’ against each other like some people think. GET a website, get a logo, fake it until you make it, and keep on going. BE ON TIME and DO what you say, musicians are generally flake ball space cadets, and being on time and positive goes a long way. ESPECIALLY to those that work at the venue, do sound/lighting at the venue, promote for the venue, or manage artists, those people do all the hard work.
CC: What do you think about the way that music is getting released? It seems like a lot of artists are starting to take their earning power back from the big labels.
K: Yeah it seems like that but the reality is that most musicians pay for their fans up until a certain point and that's the tipping point where people say,”oh he’s worth my money”. Middle management can take all the profits and leave you feeling confused on where the money is moving too, I think an important part of being a successful musician is to know that it actually is somewhat a business. Think of it as a job but make sure your first priority is have fun.
CC: What do you feel is the best way to get your music heard these days? What outlet do you prefer to use?
K: I use Soundcloud strictly because it's so easy to find new music, I work at a desk 8-5 and I am able to stream to my heart's desire. If I wasn’t real good at playlisting and putting stuff on my mp3, I would use Spotify Premium for streaming on my phone.
CC: What’s one thing you want your fans to know?
K: The last year in music has been one of the most beautiful and exciting parts of my life and I have no idea what I am doing but I do know that I really want to do it. Two years ago I would have never thought I would be booking Summer Camp Music Festival. I still don’t know how I am going to make 3 festivals happen in different states in the same month work but I do know how bad I want to play them, so maybe some of the planning that I think I need to do will fall into place. Hopefully my normal job lets me use my vacation then, and if they don’t, I guess I do it anyway and find a new job when I get back. Chase your dreams.
CC: What’s one thing you want to tell everyone who has never listened to a single one of your tracks?
K: I’ve put a lot of time and love into my music, my 8 song EP alone probably took about 300 hours of writing and production. I also try to focus on multiple styles and multiple genres, I feel like between the 31 tracks on SoundCloud there is something for everyone.
CC: We know you have some big shows and opportunities coming up. What are your plans for the future?
K: I’m already working to animate my graphics into a sound reactive movie for my live sets, I am also building a stage production and I play to also get into doing visuals and stage production for other artists/companies. My plans for music stretch much further than djing or producing songs. I’d like to move more of my web development and design business to the music industry and musicians.
CC: Anything else you’d like other people to know?
K: In September of 2016 my mother passed away and it was the most difficult experience that I have ever went through, I still wake up somedays and check for a call or message that will never came in.
If I didn’t find an outlet in music, I would have fallen apart. I also have a very high level of social anxiety, being on the stage is the scariest thing I have done but it is also the most rewarding thing I have ever done too. Several weeks after my mom passed I played a show at Hodi's Half Note because my friend Amanda Gilson aka Miss Jaedha saw my passion and I didn’t realize how therapeutic being on the other side of the speakers could be.
If it scares you, good, you are suppose to be scared but do not let it stop you from doing what is going to make you great. Most the time opportunity is disguised as struggle or conflict, it’s up to you to see it through.
THANK YOU KARLYLE! There you have it cultureheads. In the words of someone who lives it every day.
Our advice: Follow your heart in all that you do and don't ever give up. Soak up the knowledge and experience around you and push yourself to be better. Be fearless. Be relentless. But most importantly smile, work hard, and always play harder! #turnitup