The element that draws together a community of people isn’t always transparent. Sometimes this ingredient is mysterious. Fortunately, for Portland’s newest music label, EYRST, the thread of compassion is visible in their formula.
“This summer we’ll officially launch as a label,” CEO Taylor Dutton says, sitting in a sheek basement studio near Beaverton. “EYRST also offers a professional recording space for local artist to make tracks. We’ll release some stuff on vinyl. Our goals are all based on getting the art out there.”
The artist roster, which includes young talent like Blossom, Ripley Snell, Neill Von Tally, and Myke Bogan, also brings a brand new face to the Portland music scene. Born in Edmonds, WA, Martell Webster entered the NBA after being drafted by the Trailblazers in 2005. Yet since signing with the Washington Wizards in 2012, the 6’7”, 230 lb swingman hasn’t lost touch with one of his true passions. Under the name Sui Generis, Webster will release his debut album, A.R.T. (anyone who relates to this) later this year. Check out the interview with the EYRST camp below.
Sui Generis: Music became really interesting to me my rookie year. My older cousin who moved in with me brought his studio equipment down with him. After they set it up in the guest house, I found myself going over there after practices and enjoying vibing out. Eventually, one of my close friends Mike Knight came down and brought a engineer Charles Hopper, who is now the producer of my upcoming album. Watching Mike’s creative process was something I’ve never witnessed and it alluring. Ever since then, music has had a piece of my heart.
How did EYRST begin?
Neill Von Tally: Really the origins are rooted in my time with Futro and Martell’s time masking music over the past few years. This summer is really went it started to happen. We were working on his album, I helped co-produced part of it. We just got to talking a lot about the Portland scene, what’s going on with the fire marshall in recent years. He didn’t necessarily know that stuff was happening here and it really struck him at his core. In a town that’s so in to art and culture. There are these groups of people trying to combat that, and that’s what this music is here. We discussed that EYRST could be another piece of that community, helping the artists here get shine.
I know both you and Ripley were on the artist collective, Futro. Why the switch? [CORRECTION: Neill Von Tally and Ripley Snell have not left Futro, ed.]
Ripley: The point is to create that friction that drives the culture forward. Being in Futro changes me from being just a rapper to an artist. But Futro was never a label. I believe this label is focused on spreading a positive message globally.
Neill Von Tally: That’s what we’re hoping to be able to offer at a competitive rate to the people of Portland that are saying, ‘hey I have these great bedroom recordings but I don’t have an actual place to make a final product that I could go shop around the labels.
Ripley Snell: That’s the other thing to know about Portland too. It just make sense for there to be a serious label because all these studios around Portland have crazy gear from just the music scene that’s been in the Northwest forever, it’s just been really not accessible to more alternative forms that young people are using now like rap, hip-hop, R&B.
What does EYRST mean?
Ripley: It comes from a medieval poem called Cædmon’s Hymn, and the poem is meant to evoke divine creativity.
What does it take for an artist to get signed to EYRST?
Taylor: They really just have to have a message and they have to come to us and say, ‘this is my message,’ and it’s got to align with us. At the core, our message is about positivity and spreading that Portland good energy. We’re not restricting ourselves to a specific genre. If your values align with ours then that’s something we’re interested in.
Neill Von Tally: Equality is one of the pillars we wrote into the business plan.
What would you say rappers and NBA players have in common?
Sui Generis: I would say that the competitive edge is what makes us similar, the drive to want to get better every game, or every song. Always having something to prove.
What is the significance to your logo?
Neill Von Tally: What inspired the final version of the logo is actually painted by hand in the wall there. I picked that symbol up while I was in Cambodia. If you look closely at the original it sort of looks like a stick figure with something going on between its legs, and it’s a landmine. When I was travelling we were in areas that still had millions of landmines in them and that was how you could tell where the path was. So it’s just spray painted everywhere, on thousands of trees. At that time when I was in Cambodia I was personally coming to grips with the fact that I didn’t want to have a normal professional life, that I wanted to commit full time to music and I was okay with being poor if I wanted to do that. I needed to do that because things like that going on, people are living where there are landmines and you don’t have a lot of choices, you options are limited. So if I have this opportunity I need to take it and hopefully be able to make a difference. So carrying that symbol back with me was about compassion, and commitment, and a lot of things.
What’s next for this camp?
Taylor Dutton: The first album on deck is Sui Generis’s album and it’s called A.R.T. (anyone who relates to this). Pretty soon we’ll have an EYRST mixtape, with a short demo to show what each artist has to offer, before getting them each into the studio on their own projects.
What makes EYRST different from other labels?
Sui Generis: We believe in going about something (no matter what it is) with mindset of, “how do we not only better ourselves, but also the people around us.” How can we all benefit from whatever project we’re embarking on? We as people get too caught up in the “me, me, me,” of life when really, if we work together, we can accomplish anything. EYRST is the true definition of TEAM.
WAXED OUT delivers new music to keep your record collection fresh & stacked to the ceiling
words + photos by @Evan_Gabriel
On Sunday night, I caught a late 4/20 set by local MC-producer Neill Von Tally, who was performing tracks from his EP, “For Old Crimes Sake,” due out at the end of the month. The theme of the album, appropriately fitting for the night, is 1900’s reefer Jazz. Von Tall cleverly let the Jazz records play in full before sliding in with the sampler and melding drums to the sample in real time. The music was accompanied by fellow-Futro Records affiliate Alex Boyce’s visual projection, made up of clips from the 1936’s film “Reefer Madness.”
The show, a unique blend of crackling Jazz records and dusted 808-kicks popping the floor from underneath, proved for a great end to the weekend. Be on the lookout for “For Old Crimes Sake” to drop on April 30th.
WAXED OUT delivers new music to keep your record collection fresh & stacked to the ceiling. Words and photos by @Evan_Gabriel
At an dramatic rate, music is becoming tailored toward the internet. Strong SEO and easy to remember URLs are being trusted over backpack demos. So where’s the tangibility?
From Been Trill’s deep web focus to Flosstradamus’ new vaporizer/USB mixtape , or even Childish Gambino’s 75-page screenplay promoting 2013’s “Because the Internet,” music releases are involving more mediums.
Meet Portland Oregon’s Futro Records, an independent label whose biggest idiosyncrasy is perhaps their style of releasing music on USB drives, dubbed in-house as ‘KITs.’ Think of the new-wave 8-track, except fans not only get the MP3s, but also the Futro Zine, exclusive software, music videos and more.
I met with artist Neill Von Tally, whose real name is Anthony Villella, at a Futro studio session.
When did you begin seeing music as a serious creative pursuit? “When I was 19 and working in an ER in Ghana’s Volta region and I met this dude who rapped. We started freestyling in Ewe, the local dialect, and we ended up recording a track that made it on the radio. And I was like, holy shit, this is alright. He just handed the guys at the radio a CD and they were like, ‘Oh, we like this. We’ll play it.’ It doesn’t just happen like that in the States, you know?”
Following his job in Ghana,Von Tally moved back to the U.S. and enrolled in a Boston nursing school. Yet after breaking his hand his ability at school became limited.
What happened with school? “It just kind of clicked at one point that music was what I wanted to do, and I left. A bunch of opportunities were presented to me when I moved back to Portland,” Von Tally said.
Futro, a portmanteau of future and retro, originated as a radio show called the Kick-it Club with the help of local rapper, Neo G Yo–better known in the Futro camp as ‘The Godfather.’ After five years streaming on PRA radio, Geo was ready to materialize the growing network of talent that had formed around the show.
“That was right when I moved back to Portland and started doing beats again,” Von Tally remembered. “So it was Neo, his brother Chris, myself and Har-1. Neo G Yo and whoever is most involved at the time do the main decision making.”
The Futro label officially launched in 2011. With 18 artists currently signed, this self-deemed “multimedia integrative collective” continues to evolve, with unique acts like Dual Mode, made up of two MCs (Neo G Yo and Ripley Snell), DJ/producer Har-1, and Keyon, a nationally acclaimed dancer.
Last June, Futro released 100 of their Futro KIT 2.0s, their second 2-GB USB drive with a custom designed insert, two MAC editing programs developed by Alex Boyce–Videothing and Audiothing–as well as music videos by Yum Yum and Serious Business, plus the immediate download of the 20-track compilation album and unlimited access with the Bandcamp listening app for $30.
Harking back to the philosophy of crate diggers Peanut Butter Wolf and Madlib, Von Tally keeps his Vinyl searches in the 50-cent bins, a method that has worked in his favor. His track “Da ba da,” which samples one such LP, was selected for one of Yak Film’s Eurobattle 2013 breakdancing videos, which features b-boy Bruce Almighty breaking in Italy.
“Today, people just rip shit off Youtube. But the 50-cent bins push you to discover new material,” Von Tally noted.
What’s your favorite genre to sample? “I really like cinematic records. Cinematic music is already so full. Henry Mancini is a great composer, anytime I see a record is his I’ll go for it. It’s harder and harder to get away with sampling these days, so that’s why I’m releasing everything for free.”
Can you tell me about your most recent solo EP, “Themes from Recurring Dreams of Floating in Outer Space?”
“I have these recurring dreams where I’m floating through space. All the songs on that EP are inspired by those dreams. I always had music in my dreams and didn’t know where it was coming from but when I started making music I could access it a little bit more.”
How did your project with Ripley Snell, “Fall Denim,” come about?
“He [Snell] is one of the first people who got me into rapping. We were hanging out last winter and were starting to form songs before we said ‘fuck it, let’s do twenty tracks.’ Now we have an 11-track album,” Von Tally said.
Neo G Yo, who started in the group Serious Business, keeps his hands in most of the projects, with two features on Futro-friend Grape God’s “444” album and one 1 on the “Fall Denim” album.
What’s coming up for Futro?
“We do FAWM–February album writing month. It’s this big national event where every week online you can submit a song to people who are also writing an album, so you write a 14-track album in the month of February. I did a beat tape last February. It really ramps shit up.”
Futro’s multimedia KIT releases are representative of a larger, unique trend for artist collectives on the national scene. Such a direction raises the bar for rappers and producers releasing music on sites like Soundcloud and Bandcamp. Where’s the tangibility in online music aquitision? Perhaps it’s the KITs.