Okay, so apologies for the tardiness of this post. I promised myself last year this wouldn’t happen but as Monday rolled over, as did my exhaustion, I literally couldn’t pull myself out of bed to write this recap. Anyone who was at the second day can probably attest to the fact that some of the proceedings are pretty hard to articulate in a recap also, but here we go…
Forum C was on the Evolution of an Idea. It was interesting to hear how people from very different backgrounds have evolved creative concepts into a tangible career path. More than anything the ability to ADAPT seemed to be an overwhelming theme throughout the presentations. It was inspiring to hear how people I have admired for some time have faced obstacles. Sometimes it’s easy to just think these guys have had a really easy time of it or are based in cities like NYC where the opportunities seem far more vast than what is available here, but any independent start up or creative faces the same problems regardless of where they’re stationed.
Huw Bennett of Sydney label Vanishing Elephant was first on the mic. His emphasis was on taking baby steps and fresh ideas. He made an interesting point about being true to Australia and understanding the market here. I think this was interesting given many start up brands often get caught in the trap of trying to nail the overseas market before they’ve worked out how to operate in their own country. While successs in one market doesn’t necessarily translate to others, it’s all about have a clear idea of who you are as a brand before expanding too quickly.
DJ Neil Armstrong was the next speaker and he gave a great presentation about adjusting to new markets. As an underground turntablist dj who later became Jay-Z’s tour DJ: “I went from playing guitar hero in my underwear at home to performing in front of 10,000 people within a week”, Neil has seen all markets. I think the most interesting thing he had to say was in regards to patrons. Ever since renaissance times patrons have provided the money for select creatives to make work, Neil equated this notion of the patron to what many corporations do now with getting creative ambassadors on board and supporting them financially like his role with adidas originals.
Mega from San Fran/LA label Black Scale spoke on taking ideas to fruition. He argued that the hardest part of doing something creative and/or commercial is taking what is just a good idea to the point of action. “Always try and put your good ideas to life. If you can’t be motivated to do that, maybe you don’t believe in your vision as much as you think you do”. Mega also emphasized the necessity of having a good team around you, people who can run the show with you not around, people you can trust.
Last speaker was Nick Catchdubs. As co-founder of Fool’s Gold Records Nick knows a thing or two about the music biz, but he’s also acted as a graphic designer, A&R, editor for Fader and a ridiks amount of other stuff, as well as an accomplished DJ. As a DJ he “connected the dots creatively”. He learnt to “brand yourself via your sound”. He also spoke of the importance of keeping true to your sound but diverse at the same time. With Danny Brown they have one of the world’s illest underground rappers but at the same time Duck Sauce is on the label which they play at soccer matches. Signing artists they liked who didn’t quite fit any particular genre became their sweet spot. “Adapt and do things you’re proud of” he continued, “You can’t be shoot by your own ideas”.
After a brief hiatus for lunch, the last forum of the CARBON event kicked off. Visual Saturation a discussion on photography… well at least that was how it was supposed to go down. Firstly, apologies to Yimmy Yayo for having sit with the peanut gallery on this one. Ricky Powell and 13th Witness were hard to ignore. Was the forum entertaining? Yes. Informative? Well… maybe. It was one of those polarizing forums where half the people I spoke to said it was hilarious and a highlight of the event and the other half were just confused. Yimmy made a great go of describing what he does, how he got there and what he thinks were the important steps in getting there. “Love what you do and work harder than anyone else” and “Talking shit about people is a waste of time” were two points that stuck out for me. The other guys… I stopped writing notes for. The Rickford Institute of Unconventionalism was out in force, with a warm-up act in the form of 13th. Slides were shown, comments were made, but in terms of pulling out any quotables and morsels of advice, I’d say the biggest lesson learnt from the audience was the virtues of sobriety. I’m keen to hear feedback though, feel free to get in on the comments of this one if you attended and say what you thought. I know some of you guys loved it (girls not so much). One thing we can agree on is that is was a memorable end to the event and I’m sure y’all have some kind of opinion on it.
Lastly, thanks to ALL the volunteers and supporters of the event this year. It was a great couple of days, with a great bunch of people and despite the hangovers, lack of proper meals and ongoing stress, it was truly inspiring. I know I’ve been inspired by some of the speakers to take some of my ideas into action, and I hope the audience feels the same way. Thanks also to all of the speakers that made it a memorable experience. And we’ll catch you next year!
Photos by Michelle Grace Hunder