Where do you find new music? In today’s AI-driven online world, chances are it’s delivered to you daily by your favorite streaming services’ algorithms.
There was a time when the best new music was found by randomly stumbling on highly curated Youtube and Soundcloud channels, however. Among the first and largest of those curators in the EDM scene is MrSuicideSheep. As many such tastemakers start out, the channel's purpose was simply to share music with friends – but over time it also developed into a promotional tool for independent artists and the music community at large.
Today, MrSuicideSheep boasts over 12 million subscribers on Youtube, over 760,000 on SoundCloud, and over 314,000 on Spotify, making “Sheepy” and his team among the biggest music curators in the world.
As his relationships with artists grew, Sheepy would hear how poorly they were being treated by their labels. He set out to create his own label which would offer favorable deals and full creative control for the artist. Just two years into building the channel, and just under eight years ago, Seeking Blue Records was formed.
Artist-first record deals weren't all Seeking Blue had planned; they wanted to foster artist development. As such, last June, with the support of Creative BC and The Province of British Columbia, they hosted their first of a series of creative retreats in Gibsons, British Columbia. Over one week, 10 of their artists shared a cabin in the mountains and went into the studio every day to work on music together.
The creative retreat sought to unite Seeking Blue's artists in their own backyard, sharing insights and fostering creativity and collaboration in a positive environment.
Artists played riffs and melodies while exchanging stories about relationship experiences. As conversations evolved, it evoked a stream of lyricism that would later shape the foundations of new songs.
"We were able to break down the barriers of vulnerability and actually share ourselves with other people for a moment in time, and that’s how it should be," said Fairlane of the retreats.
Despite the fame and glamour associated with the DJ/producer lifestyle, label issues, touring schedules, fickle fans, and other pressures can make many artists lose sight of why they started making music.
WE ARE FURY remarked that the experience was "a great way of reconnecting with the reasons we started producing in the first place.”
Many artists work solo, alone for hours or days at a time as they perfect every last detail of a song. Often they are their own worst critics and all they need is a peer they respect to validate their work and help them grow as creatives.
HAHLWEG echoed this sentiment, saying, "Being surrounded by incredible artists and friends brings out the best in what I do."
The creative retreat helped the artists open up about mental health bringing them together over shared personal experiences. Lexi Norton (of Echos) had this to say about the retreat: "You begin to realize that you share a lot of commonalities and that you’re not as alone as you think. It’s important to not feel that aloneness one hundred percent of the time.”
These days more and more artists are avoiding labels in favor of pursuing their careers independently. The retreat was the first of many to come from Sheepy's Seeking Blue label, which seems to have developed a strong understanding of the needs of its artists. Most of the artists had never met, nor had they ever collaborated with other artists. Each was given a disposable camera, and a documentary was shot to capture the experience by Timelapse Media. While other labels host artists retreats, Seeking Blue chose to document and share theirs providing an exclusive peek into the way they approach artist development and collaboration.