Despite many challenges, Chicago’s entertainment community remains vibrant and artists remain hopeful. FyreMouff, a bilingual spoken word artist, is one of those artists. FyreMouff, along with her boyfriend, DJ Jazznosis, have remained resilient and confident that the local arts and entertainment scene will flourish. Together, the two founded T’izm Sound Productions, which they’ve billed as Chicago’s “first and only urban recording label.”
During a recent interview with FyreMouff and DJ Jazznosis, I learned more about how they view Chicago’s music industry and even gathered a few pearls of wisdom for aspiring artists.
Publicity Stunt Inc: From what I’ve read, your company was started to provide a means for local artists to establish careers. What challenges do you often find that Chicago artists must overcome?
FyreMouff: Cohesiveness is the main challenge. Complacency is another issue. Many of us are satisfied with whatever little recognition we are able to attain, without aiming higher. Finally, poor business sense, or a complete lack thereof, is another hurdle that Chicago artists face. We are happy simply turning ourselves over to managers or other entities, while waiting for the money to come rolling in. There is an overall consumer mentality among artists.
DJ Jazznosis: Trying to be original has been a long time issue. In this town, there are too many clones. But even then if you do become a clone, the people still don’t support you. They’re either biased or don’t have an open mind to one’s originality. That’s why Chicago artists and musicians would pursue a music career somewhere else and eventually succeed. Another challenge we face is that we live in a city of consumers. We used to be creators and innovators. Now we’re a town full of cover bands and corny top 40 karaoke and laptop DJs who nearly destroy the art. And unfortunately, I’ve come across musicians who began writing their own material and developing they’re own style, only to sell out to being another cover band who would be lucky to get a gig in the suburbs.
Publicity Stunt Inc: What advice do you have for those who are trying to break into the local industry?
FyreMouff: First, be prepared to work…and work hard! Second, be willing to own your career. Third, don’t be afraid, no matter how intimidating it all looks…just get it done. This means taking credit for your work by owning the rights to it. Own the domain to your website. Right now, it’s very affordable to accomplish these goals.
I also advise artists to do their own research. If you can Google Map your ex, then you can put that same creativity to work to find information that will help move your art career forward. It’s a do-it-yourself market out here. People are more receptive to and respectful of artists who are self-sufficient and accessible.
DJ Jazznosis: I echo what Fyre said: work hard. I’ve been around artists who want the money and fame, but don’t want to work for it. When finances came up, they were gone. Yet, some would rather burn CDs on their own and sell them out on the streets. If you want to expand beyond the hood, you have to think outside that grid. Sure, things are tight in this economy. But again, it’s a DIY age. You can find ways to make it work, but you have to put in the work, as long as it takes, to make it work for you.
Publicity Stunt Inc: What advice would you give to those artists who want to be signed?
FyreMouff: If you’re waiting to be “discovered,” you’ll die a thousand deaths warming the same spot on the bench alongside countless other artists of that mindset. The advent of the digital download/shareware reinvented the industry about 10 years ago. It put the power in the hands of both the artists and consumers. As independent radio grows, we will see a similar fate among Clear Channel and other “big box” radio broadcasters. Factor in the boom in portable technology, like the BlackBerry, iPod, iPhone, etc, and it’s a perfect storm that finds the independent artist right in the eye of it all. In a nutshell, it’s up to the artist to take the DIY approach and sign themselves by producing and distributing their own music.
DJ Jazznosis: Simple—don’t look to be signed. There are those who’ve made it big and are victims to shady deals from the major labels. Push yourself through Internet radio because as long as these corporate vampires are running the radio stations, anyone creating real music has no chance.
Publicity Stunt Inc: You (FyreMouff) noted, in a recent interview, that you have a PR and marketing background—what tips would you give to fellow artists on how they can differentiate themselves in this highly competitive market?
FyreMouff: Tell your story! There is so much power in feature or personal news stories. I tell our starving artist/entrepreneur story to show how our talents and determination are getting us through these tough times. It’s relatable. It’s the plain truth. Each artist’s story sets them apart from other artists. Yes, it’s tough out here, but there’s room in the industry for everyone who is truly dedicated to career success. Affiliating oneself with a cause or benefit doesn’t hurt either.
Publicity Stunt Inc: Does T’izm have plans to sign any new artists?
DJ Jazznosis: We’re looking forward to doing just that. Right now, I’m trying to connect and collab with those who share our vision and ethics as well as good music. Meanwhile, we’re working on releasing my CD, so that we can get ourselves recognized and hopefully attract new artists as a result from the sound within it.
Publicity Stunt Inc: What’s up next for T’izm?
FyreMouff: We were recently introduced to Fusicology’s “What is Good Music?” fall 2010 compilation CD, which premiered at the CMJ Music Marathon in New York City, during the week of Oct. 19 – 23. We’re working on releasing “The Jazznosis Files,” our debut CD within the next few weeks. Additionally, we are working on a possible guest appearance on several nationally-syndicated shows, as well as countless live performances throughout 2011.
For more information on FyreMouff, DJ Jazznosis and T’izm Sound Productions, visit their website.
*The interview was edited and condensed for clarity*