What Is The State Of Music?

The State Of Music was a project undertaken by ChooseMyMusic.org to discover, interview and release music by one unsigned or indie label band from all 50 USA states.

The project commenced in August 2011 and was completed in May 2012.

In January 2012 Choose My Music Records released the first of five State Of Music albums, with subsequent volumes being released through the year. All profits from the sale of these albums were originally donated to Camden Calling, a UK community group supporting homeless musicians.

In 2013 Choose My Music Records announced that all profits from the sale of The State Of Music album would be donated to Street Soccer USA, a national US charity aiming to end homelessness through the power of soccer.

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The State Of Music - Redux: Arkansas - The Duke Of Norfolk

Due to reasons unknown, my original State Of Music bands from Arkansas and Vermont decided that they were unable or unwilling (I genuinely do not know which) to donate a track for any of albums which accompanied the original series. So for a brief few days a month or so ago, I got back on the saddle in a mission to track down suitable replacements

The State Of Music Vol.5 - Released Friday 9th November

We are pleased to announce that the final album in our 'State Of Music' series is going to be released on 9th November 2012, both physically through the Choose My Music Records store and digitally on Itunes, Amazon, Spotify and all other good digital download sites. We want to make the release of The State Of Music Vol.5 the biggest one yet. And to do this we need your help.....

The State Of Music: Part 50: Minnesota - Dessa

I cannot help but write this article with a heavy heart. 247 days since The State Of Music Part 1 landed in Arkansas, I have finally completed my objective, one unsigned or indie label band from all 50 US states. I am fully convinced that I have completed something which has never been done before and to be honest, why would anyone want to? But finally completing my music map of America is quite frankly one of the greatest things I have ever done. I don't often feel proud of most things I do, but this has been one amazing experience. I've discovered lots of great bands, made some amazing new friends, opened up a record label and held a State Of Music Showcase at SXSW....all from my home here in England.

Of course the project still continues in album form. The State Of Music Vol.3 is released on 29th June 2012, with the following two volumes due before the end of the year. The album releases so far have raised some much needed funds for Camden Calling, a UK community group who work to support homeless musicians.

Please feel free to keep in touch with me via my Twitter account or Facebook page. You can also find links to all 50 State Of Music posts right HERE

So it is time to go out with a bang, with help from Minneapolis based hip hop collective Doomtree, but more specifically this post is all about one of their members, Dessa.

When I first heard Dessa's latest album Castor The Twin, I instantly wanted to put on for a second spin, and then when the album wasn't playing all I could think about was when I could listen to it again. With its mixture of soulful vocals and live chamber instrumentation - it really is something that needs to be heard to be believed. It takes guts to make a hip hop album like this. Dessa should be heralded across the music world for even considering it, let alone pulling it off in spectacular fashion.

Doomtree (including Dessa) are heading to the UK in May for their first ever adventure this side of the pond. I have posted the tour dates at the bottom of this article.

So, for one last time - please welcome the final State Of Music artist. Number 50 - Dessa.

CMM: Welcome to Choose My Music. I suppose the first question is - who is Dessa and where in the world would be find you?

I'm a musician, a writer, and a member of the Doomtree collective--7 members, 10 years, 30+ albums. I live and work in Minneapolis, but tour hard, so with any luck I'm somewhere near you at least once a year. The whole Doomtree team is embarking on our first European tour in May.

CMM: How would you best describe your music?

My strength is as a lyricist. I work hard for the precision in my songs and edit like a motherfucker. My music is literary, and often a bit melancholic, but with the drive of hip hop.

CMM: You are part of the Minneapolis collective Doomtree. Could you maybe explain to the folks at home who Doomtree are and how you became involved with them.

Doomtree is a 7-member hip hop collective. Friendship first, then music, then business. I first learned about Doomtree when a friend lent me a home-burned and hand-screened CDR. The music on it captivated me--honest, rebellious, funny, charismatic stuff. I asked where my friend where these Doomtree guys were from and, as it turned out, they were my next door neighbors.

CMM: You last album "Castor The Twin" makes really brilliant use of live instrumentation. What made you decide to go down that route as opposed to the usual "beats" method?

When I started touring the A Badly Broken Code (released in 2010), I brought out a really killer trio as a backing ensemble. Sean McPherson plays stand-up bass and leads the band; Dustin Kiel plays guitar and keyboard, sometimes at the same time; and Joey Van Phillips plays drums. These three are not only great players, but they're really excellent musicians. Naturally, we began to rearrange the songs, writing new parts. Hip hop production does some things that live players can't, and players do some things that production can't, so we looked for ways to play to our strengths--and to avoid sounding cheesy, which I think is a common pitfall for live hip hop. In the end, we ended up with a sound that falls somewhere in between terms like 'experimental hip hop' or 'chamber pop.' Admittedly, I'm lousy with that sort of nomenclature. But whatever it's called, it sounded significantly different than the recorded material. We decided to capture these new versions, and in doing so enlisted a few of our talented friends: the soprano Aby Wolf and the violist Erica Burton among them. The product, I think, is a more cinematic project that pushes the lyrics forward, and leans toward an elegant, orchestral sound.

CMM: When I listen to your music it feels like a very personal account of life. Is your writing inspired by real life events or is it your excellent abilities in creative and descriptive writing that draws me to that conclusion?

Almost everything that could be true in my lyrics is true. If I'm writing about flying around in the talons of an oversized crow, well, that I invented. But I try to capture details, and even dialogue, as faithfully as I can.

CMM: Could you perhaps give a run down of the music you have released so far?

In 2005, Doomtree released my little EP called False Hopes--that's a name we use for a lot of our unofficial or short-run projects. My next solo project, an album called A Badly Broken Code didn't come out until 2010, an indefensibly long interim by industry standards. In the meantime, however, I'd contributed to a dozen other discs. The most notable was probably Doomtree's self-titled album which dropped in 2008. Then, most recently, I released Castor, The Twin in late 2011.

CMM: Like most artists involved in the hip hop scene you are no doubt involved in many other side projects, are there any that you would like to share with us?

Outside of music, my first priority is writing. I published a collection of essays called Spiral Bound, and I'm overdue for my follow-up project. It's phenomenally challenging to write while on tour--it is for me, anyway--but I'm grinding hard to complete my next manuscript.

CMM: Where are your favourite places to play both in and out of state?

At home in Minnesota, I think my favorite venues would have to be First Avenue and a handful of theaters, the Fitzgerald and the State among them. Out of state, I really like the House of Blues in New Orleans.

CMM: What's next in the pipeline for you?

I'm 9 songs into my next album and about halfway through my second collection of prose. And trying very hard not to freak out.

CMM: And finally, where can people reach out to you online and where can they get hold of your stuff?

People can check out music, videos, pictures, and all that stuff at www.doomtree.net/dessa.

You can catch Doomtree in the UK at the following venues (all opening for Yelawolf)

14th May 2012: Electric Ballroom, Camden, London 15th May 2012: O2 Academy 2, Bristol 16th May 2012: O2 Academy 2, Birmingham

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The State Of Music: Part 49: Wyoming - The Rubbish Zoo

Wyoming is the 10th largest state in the USA, yet is the 49th least populated. With a quarter of a million square kilometers to share between just half a million people, the chances of finding a State of Music band were remote. At some point it dawned of me that I might have to try and find a band who perhaps started in Wyoming and had to move elsewhere in order to continue their development in a thriving music scene. I am not sure how I found The Rubbish Zoo hiding out in LA, but I am sure glad I did. Not only because I really needed to complete this project, but also because they are brilliant. Similar vocal melodies to recent Choose My Music feature Mad Gregs but with a slightly louder edge.

Even more perfect was that they released their new EP just ten days ago.

CMM: Welcome to Choose My Music. I suppose the first question is - who are The Rubbish Zoo and where in the world would we find you?

The Rubbish Zoo is five piece indie rock band originally from Cheyenne, Wyoming, and currently living in Los Angeles.

CMM: How long has the band been in existence and how did it all start

We have been playing together for about a year and a half. Growing up in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Ian and Adam, who are brothers, were playing in bands together, while Jerrick, Jordan, and Jason played in a separate band. Throughout high school and college our groups rivaled each other in Battle of the Bands competitions and opened for each other on numerous occasions. Before moving to LA in August of 2011, Ian played drums for a stint with Jerrick, Jordan, and Jason’s band. During this time, a plan manifested to form a “super-group” once we moved to California. Adam was living in Idaho at the time, and the rest of the boys convinced him to move out to join the band without having ever played together before. And over a year later, here we are.

CMM: How best would you describe your music?

We write intelligent, technically proficient, indie pop songs.

CMM:You are know living out in California after rerouting from Wyoming. I imagine the scene from your home state wasn't very conducive to what you hoped to achieve? How is the local music scene in Wyoming?

You would definitely be correct in assuming that. The scene in Wyoming is a close-knit group. You have the opportunity to play do-it-yourself shows to your friends on the weekends. The bands in the scene tend to lean toward hardcore and metal, though you can find a wide genre of bands playing on shows together. There have been some truly passionate people that have helped grow the scene to what it is and give locals a chance to showcase their creativity, which we are glad to have taken part in.

CMM: One thing I am hoping to find in this series is some kind of link between where a band is based and their music. Do you feel as an artist you are influenced by your surroundings and the scene around you?

Most definitely. Coming from a small town, everyone in the town more or less knows your band if you're making solid music and the access to their immediate feedback informs what you're doing and how you can improve. The small town environment shapes concrete goals to aspire toward, like playing in big cities and gaining a following there.

Now living in a city that is a launching points for national music acts, it seems everyone here is in a band or knows someone that is. Everyone here is pursuing a creative interest and this has really brought focus to what we are doing. If we aren't on top of our game, there is someone else that is. We can definitely see the melting pot of culture out here informing our endeavors as we progress.

CMM: What other influences do you have, musical or otherwise?

Pretty simply we draw our influences from music- classic rock to new indie bands, books and television. Creativity inspires more of the same.

CMM: Could you perhaps give a run down of the music you have released so far?

We released our first four song EP, "A Great Detective Race", in January 2011, followed by a single called "The Hidden Harbor" in March 2011. We are releasing a new EP on Friday, April 13th called "The Rubbish Zoo" EP.

CMM: Are you able to get out an play live much?. Where are your favourite places to play both in and out of state?

Our live show is as equally important to us as writing music. We aim to play as tight and exuberant of a set as possible.

In Wyoming some of our most memorable shows we played were at the University of Wyoming in Laramie and multiple times at a VFW Hall in Casper. In Cheyenne we fondly remember playing at The Atlas Theater, a historic playhouse built in 1887 that is supposedly haunted, and The Meeting House, an old research facility on the outskirts of town.

We've been fortunate to play quite a few shows out in California so far and hope to keep it up. Some of the places we've played and enjoyed include: The Mint in Los Angeles , Detroit Bar in Orange County and at the Queen Mary as part of a Halloween event.

CMM: What's next in the pipeline for you?

Our brand new EP, "The Rubbish Zoo EP" is coming out this month and we plan to support this by sharing it with as many people as possible and playing as many live shows in the area as time permits. We are want to branch out creatively and film a music video and hopefully collaborate with some interested parties in other new endeavors.

CMM: And finally, where can people reach out to you online and where can they get hold of your stuff?

We can be found on most all social networking sites online. Our Facebook page (http:www.facebook.com/therubbishzoo) is one of the easiest places to drop us a line. Our current releases are available for download on our Bandcamp page (therubbishzoo.bandcamp.com) and on iTunes. Our Bandcamp page also offers other band related items like physical CDs and apparel.

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