Thursday, April 7, 2016

A Interview with Matt Black, the Mastermind Behind Young Heavy Souls

Have you ever dreamed about owning your own record label? I think a lot of us have fantasized about running our own musical empire, but very few of us have actually gone through and tried to make it happen. Let's face it, it sounds really cool, but in reality it is a lot of work. From recruiting talent to recording albums and promoting the music, record labels play a major role in the success or failure of their artists. Sign with the wrong company and it can ruin your career, sign with the right one and you might be well on your way to success.  

To own  a successful small label you have to be able to spot talent and hustle, two things that Detroit local Matt Black a.k.a. Peace to Mateo has proven he can do. He moved to Detroit after graduating from Western University in 2013 and opened Young Heavy Soul records. At first it was just a personal label for him to release his music on, but it quickly grew into so much more. The label currently has 15 acts, including Dante LaSalle and Jaws That Bite (two of my personal favs). So, we reached out to Matt Black to ask him more about himself, the label, and the state of Detroit music. Check out what he has to say, give his artists a listen, and follow Young Heavy Souls, they're a small label making moves and doing big things in the Motor City!  
HID- When did Young Heavy Souls become a record label?
MB- "The first YHS release was in early 2011. At that point we were a record label in name only. In actuality, it was more of an artist collective/collaborative group. Over the years we got better at releasing music and learned more about the industry side of things. YHS started really embracing the label route in 2013 when we added a new wave of artists (namely Vapor Eyes, Pastel Arsenal, Jaws That Bite and Norty) to the team."

HID- Who was the first artist on the roster?
MB- "I was technically the first artist. My debut album “We Buy Gold” was YHS release #001, which came out May 2011. It featured a lot of collaborations with artists that would go on to be official members of the team. Marcutio and MC Friendly were the next two releases that we did in November 2011. After that we brought on Ty Beat and Nunca Duerma in early 2012. From there our network really started to expand."

HID- How many artists are currently working with the label?
MB- Right now we have 15 artists on the label, by far the most we’ve ever had.

Those artists are:
AceMyth (Detroit)
Airjob (Detroit)
Dante LaSalle (Detroit)
Epicure (Kalamazoo)
Jaws That Bite (Detroit)
Marcutio (Los Angeles)
MCF (Grand Rapids)
Mishigami (Grand Rapids)
Norty (Grand Rapids)
Nunca Duerma (Chicago)
Nuntheless (Detroit)
Pastel Arsenal (Detroit)
Peace to Mateo (Detroit)
Ty Beat (Grand Rapids)
Vapor Eyes (Chicago)

HID- Why did you name the label Young Heavy Souls?
MB- "Young Heavy Souls is meant to be an enigmatic name. It’s comprised of three very common words, but each of those words can have many different meanings and connotations. I felt that the name represented all the elements of the music I wanted to release. Music that is full of life, substance and an awareness of the unknown.

Dante LaSalle said it best 'my soul might get heavy but it won't grow up.''

HID- How do you find the talent that you want to work with?
MB- "Over the past two years I’ve also been receiving more and more submissions, which is really cool. Listening to unreleased material from both YHS artists and via submissions is one of the biggest perks for me.

I’m fortunate to be surrounded by a community of amazing artists. When I started YHS during my time in Kalamazoo, there was an electronic/hip-hop scene but it was still growing and I was trying to find my place in it. I relied on my friends and personal network to form the initial roster. Naturally through networking and other artists sending me recommendations, the team grew over time."

HID- Is there anyone that you have been eyeing to sign to the label that you want to give a shout out to now?
MB- "Oh man, at this point my plate is already pretty full. We’ve got 10 releases coming throughout the next year or so, plus singles and shows and all that. There’s a lot of artists I’d love to have repping YHS, but sometimes I think it’s good to just be a fan of someone and show love by supporting their music."

HID- In Your opinion what makes the Detroit music scene unique?
MB- "In my experience, the Detroit scene is comprised of people who genuinely love music and music culture. I’ve seen plenty of scenes that struggle to get crowds out for more experimental or underground music, but Detroit embraces it. There’s an intangible quality here, something in the air. There’s a reason so much amazing music is coming out of the city right now."

HID- Will you have a booth at Movement again this year?
MB- "Last year I was there helping my friends at FyouNK clothing with their booth. I plan on being there with them again. We usually put up some YHS gear, and I’m sure we’ll have our Naturally Digital collaboration well represented."

HID- What’s your favorite music venue in Detroit these days?
MB- "There’s a few I always enjoy going to. Old Miami, Majestic, there’s a couple underground DIY spots. The Loving Touch and New Way Bar in Ferndale are also fun venues."

HID- What local bands are you listening to?
MB- "There’s never a shortage of amazing local music in Detroit. Recently I’ve been listening to Illingsworth, Rebel Kind (their album “Today” is always in rotation), Passalacqua, wasaaga, SciFidelity, BLKSHRK, Red Pill, there’s really so many more, that’s just what’s in my phone right now. I have a solid collection of local CDs, cassettes and records that is always expanding."

HID- Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?
MB- "We’ve got a lot of new music coming this spring including new projects from Norty, AceMyth, Jaws That Bite, and Epicure. We just released an EP from Airjob and Jaws That Bite called “TACca”, and the new Obese Ghost Children (MCF & Norty) EP “Spöke. OGC is going on tour with Passalacqua at the end of the month. I’ll be joining them when they play at Old Miami on April 5th.

We’re also collaborating with Old Tacoma Records and Pretty Lights Music on the release of Eliot Lipp’s new LP “Come to Life.” YHS is distributing the cassettes and vinyl for the project. The pre-order link for the 12” is here: ("


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