Image by Studio Blu Photography.
One cannot exaggerate the impact that Soulcrate Music has had within the Sioux Falls scene. Eight years ago, as a wave of great local music found itself crashing upon the shore, this tribe of three emerged to help pick up the pieces of a nearly decimated musical community. They reinvigorated what was becoming a continuous story of band breakups and creative mass exodus, breathing life into those left in the wake. What exists now is largely of their making, and the payoff appears to be just around the bend for the authors of the current chapter in Sioux Falls underground music. On March 9, Soulcrate Music is set to drop their first nationally distributed release, The Heartland Panic.
Brothers Dan and Wes Eisenhauer (Dirt Dee and Attention Def) and Corey Gerlach, who works under the moniker DJ Absolute, have spent nearly a decade developing a unique hip-hop sound and amassing legions of rabid fans. It all began in 2002. Wes moved back to Sioux Falls from Portland, Ore. to find Dan and Corey killing time together by making music. The three joined forces and, without any expectations beyond having fun, Soulcrate Music was born.
They infused the project with a dose of the grassroots ideals they all absorbed after years in the Sioux Falls punk scene. Wes said, “Growing up and going to shows, I’d see the reaction that bands would get from the audience and I remember thinking, ‘That must be an amazing feeling.’”
Corey added, “It gave us structure to do what we do—how we put on shows and how we think. We have a very do-it-yourself, punk-rock mentality—not one where we think we’re going to make a million dollars.”
DIY is the mantra of Soulcrate Music, and it has invaded every inch of the way they operate. From the start, they have written, produced and recorded all of their own music and over the years they have expanded their collective skill set to include the non-music side of Soulcrate as well.
“We do the business, the Web site…t-shirt designs. That’s something I’m really proud of,” said Dan.
They do all of their recording in Corey’s home studio and have built a vocal booth inside of a basement closet. “The great thing about this day in age is that if you spend four or five thousand dollars, you can have a beautiful home studio,” Wes said. “And by this point, I think that we are all addicted to working on this, whether it’s the Web site or the music. All day, we’re doing something.”
Soulcrate has done a lot of recording by any standard (generating eight releases in as many years) and like many active artists, they have done their share of collaborating. When asked about the massive amount of cooperation seen within the regional music community, Dan said, “In the rap world it’s easy to ask, ‘Hey, can I get a verse from you?’”
True to form, Soulcrate branched out on The Heartland Panic to feature an array of artists from different genres, like vocals and guitar by Nick Thomas of Sioux Falls-rooted indie-rock outfit The Spill Canvas.
With the advent of online music programs like iTunes and Pandora, the public’s musical tastes have grown increasingly eclectic and Soutcrate’s fan base is a reflection of that. Their perpetually sold-out shows attract a varied crowd, many of whom would never consider themselves to be fans of hip-hop music and would not typically attend local shows.
Because each member finds himself influenced by a wide variety of musical genres, their sound seems to bridge the chasm between rock and rap, helping Sioux Falls to claim the rare distinction of having a virtually united music scene. Although they often play shows with local hip-hop heavyweights like Truth & Adapt and Trey Lane, it is not unusual to see Soulcrate on a flier with acts like We All Have Hooks for Hands and The Kickback.
Corey sees growing diversity in the tastes of mainstream music fans – not just indie enthusiasts – as a regular DJ at The Liebrary, “Kids will come up and ask if I have any Nickleback, and I’ll say, ‘No, I don’t play that,’ then the next thing they’ll ask for is Lil Wayne. They like Garth Brooks and Cash Money Millionaires.”
The members of Soulcrate enjoy their cross-genre transcendence. Wes said, “We hope that people go to the record store and pick up our new album along with the new Against Me! or Hold Steady CD.”
When pressed, they admitted to envying bands like 311, if only for the diversity seen in their audience.
Corey, Wes and Dan view The Heartland Panic as the culmination of eight years of hard work. According to Dan, most of 2009 was saturated by the project and the end of the year was spent recording and rerecording, assembling and reassembling—a tremendous benefit of having a home studio. “We’re very fortunate to be able to go back and change little things here and there,” explained Dan.
The stakes are a little higher this time around, because this is their first effort on Kansas City’s Black Clover Records, and they consider this album to be a bit more serious than those they have previously released. They see the work as a cohesive piece and hope that listeners will experience it from front to back.
“This record…it’s moody. It’s all about life experience. It definitely goes from dark to light, happy to sad. It’s not really a narrative—that is, it’s not very literal. It’s abstract and moody. This one doesn’t have the goofy song that we’ve always thrown in. It feels like wintertime. It feels twenty degrees below zero—like I’ve been in the house for a week,” said Wes.
“It’s dark,” Corey agreed, “And of course it’s coming out in the springtime. Funny how that happens.”
Dan added, “It feels very Midwestern…kind of cold and dirty.”
In support of their ninth release, Soulcrate Music will be hitting the road with label-mates Mac Lethal, Prof and Akream, but first they will be playing some local shows March 13 at Best Buy and Club David.
The Heartland Panicwill be available at Ernie November, Best Buy, iTunes, and wherever records are sold on March 9. For the latest updates, visit Soulcrate Music’s official site at www.SoulcrateMusic.com.
March 13 Soulcrate Music will have an afternoon in-store performance at Best Buy and a 9 p.m. CD release and video premiere party at Club David. It is an 18+ show and admission is $10 in advance.