I was at a concert recently when a friend asked me if the artist on stage had "made it." What is the status an artist should reach or is there an initial plateau, monetary amount, fan base, record deal, tour schedule, self fulfillment or combination that counts for "making it" in this political and cutthroat profession?
DJ Iglu and Hartly Dark, a young group of hip-hop artists that I used to help out a bit, is at that moment...or maybe they surpassed it months and months ago...I'm not sure. Micheal Jarvis and Sam Jantz used their imagination, light-hearted nature, musical experimentation's and various left-field influences to start up a hip-hop/rock/punk/beat-driven group when they attended the University of Colorado in Boulder. In the long months to come with late evenings spent locked in their college basement with a bunch of instruments, liquor, self-taught production skills and time, they eventually gathered a light local student following. Maybe enough of a following to pay for a few kegs and a three vintage sets of shirts. Through their small success grew the needed confidence to pick up everything and head to Hollywood to see if the college band/experiment could blossom.
Being a consultant, booker, blogger, and supervisor in this profession, I'd have to say about 1% of the bands/artists out there make it past the trudge of performing the free coffee shops and house parties decorated as a dive-bar. Jantz and Jarvis quickly proved to NOT be one of those. Eventually re-branding their band under the name of Iglu & Hartly, picking up some actual back-up musicians and making the move to California, they quickly found the surfer-girl following and rightly so. These guys are skinny Cali punks that haven't a care in the world other than what stage will allow them to dance and smile the following night. Hell, no one still knows whether to call them a rock band, punk experiment, garage rock or hip hop. Their influences range from 60s punk, The Cars, The Clash, to the 80s NY street rappers and probably today's underground indie bands that won't make it upstairs.
Weeks after establishing their fan demographic of flip-flop wearing surfer gals topping out at 22 years-old, Iglu & Hartly played the Viper Room, opened for acts that they've now surpassed ten-fold, appeared on MTV's The Hills and placed their newest single "In This City" on the UK charts. In roughly a year after the sun started shining bright, Mike Jarvis (now Jarvis Anderson), Jantz and full band found a home next to The Killers on Mercury Records and on an extensive tour in Europe. Regardless of all the success and fans now following Iglu & Hartly, the local "rock" station in Denver still passes them up for jokes like the Flobots. Maybe stations in the U.S. like KTCL will continue to let the UK fans establish bands and jump on in a few more months down the road. Why take the risk, right?
Have I&H made it? Major record label, full tour schedule, smiles, no need for t-shirts any more, chart position in the UK and great music. I'd cast a vote.
Here's a recently filmed concert at the famous Paradiso in Amsterdam via Fab Channel
And here is for your critique:
Iglu & Hartly - In This City