Today we have an interview with the Bay Area's Jason Battle, DJ and mastermind behind the "A.Muse" brand, a label and platform devoted to providing a space for artists to create.
With his A.Muse brand, Jason wants to connect, inspire, and motivate artists who are passionate and dedicated to their crafts, not unlike what I aim to do here at Inside the Rift. Jason has been working tirelessly to get the label running and as a result of this, the Calfornia based label has begun releasing what is sure to be the first of many musical projects.
I wanted to interview him to learn more about himself, his tastes, and what he has in store for us with the A.Muse collective.
Prox: Tell us about yourself; where are you from and how did you get involved with music?
Jason: Yo! First off, thank you for the opportunity. My name is Jason. I go by Chocolate Buddha or C.Buddha, which is my DJ Alias. I was born in Berkley, CA and raised in Richmond, CA. I have lived all over California but the Bay Area is my home and I represent it to the fullest.
My journey with music started as a young child, I grew up in a very music centric household. My grandparents played records and 8-tracks every day, all day. Everything from Motown (more on this in a bit), Arista, all the Earth Wind and Fire records and as I got older and my grandparents passed the music never stopped as my mother was always listening to Patti LaBelle, Carlos Santana, Babyface, and the like.
In my teenage years I was in to aggressive inline skating and obviously grew up a HUGE fan of Hip Hop but specifically East coast Hip Hop. However, through the skating culture I got introduced to many different genres of music and artists through skate videos, so my musical palette definitely expanded to include artists such as The Doors, Misfits, Rage Against The Machine & some Ska bands like No Doubt and then later on in the late 90’s I was introduced to Drum and Bass (which ultimately set me on this current path).
In 2010 I moved to San Francisco and one of my good friends I went to High School with asked me if I had ever heard of ‘dubstep’ and that it was some new dance music stuff coming from overseas. I of course at the time hadn’t heard of it but I went with him to a party and fell in love instantly.
This was before the big ‘Dubstep Boom’ and at that party I saw a flyer for a new weekly party in San Francisco called ‘Ritual’. Two DJ’s by the names of Nebakaneza and Johnny 5 threw the party and at the time I didn’t know much about DJ’ng or anything about throwing events I actually just liked to go and dance.
Through them I learned a lot about throwing events and just the whole “music scene” and what that meant. It was really amazing being part of that entire experience, especially watching a scene grow and being right in the middle of it.
Since I was involved in this flourishing scene, in 2011 I along with a DJ (and childhood friend) Scott Brio started a weekly party of our own we named ‘Breathe’ under the promotion company name “YMBC” Promotions (You must be crazy). Since the party was doing well and I was linking up with all of these DJ’s and artists later in 2011 one of my good friends Brian Speed told me I should start a management company (which at the time we named “Battle MGMT” and from there, over the next two years, I learned how to DJ and we threw a few HUGE 300+ people nights. I got a few of my favorite producers and DJs to perform and I just had a blast.
Prox: What made you decide that you wanted to create your own label and platform? Were there any doubts or fears when you initially got everything started?
Jason: Outside of a genuine love of music and creativity, when I was 13 years old I watched a documentary on Motown and how Berry Gordy focused not only on putting music out but developing artists. It was amazing to see how they were giving arts a platform to not only create but to learn and grow.
I remember thinking “That would be cool to own a record label, I want to do that.”
Fast forward to 2011 and the “Battle MGMT” brand, after the success of our weekly party “Breathe” and getting through some of my own personal hurdles I felt like it was a good time to do a “rebrand” so I changed the name of the company from “Battle MGMT” to “A.Muse Creative.”
I wanted to focus on finding people who loved creating art and giving them a platform to do so, or at the very least a platform that shared what they were creating with as many people as possible. I also really love the thought of working with artists on projects whatever it is I really just like to be involved in the creative process as much as possible.
In 2015 I was talking to Brian about wanting to start a label and he agreed we should do it and in 2016 I was sitting in Scott Brio’s living room when he mentioned it and so I felt it was perfect time to just do it so I chose Jan 1 2017 as the launch date and our first label released project came out Jan 20th 2017.
You know, doubts and fears will always exist so of course they creep up. A lot of the times I think we want to wait until the “perfect” moment to do things instead of just understanding that the first time anyone did anything they didn’t know what they were doing!
I see a lot of people who strive for that “perfect” moment and they usually miss out on the opportunity to just do things. I do my best to not let fear or doubt stop me from doing what I am passionate about. We are all co-creating so might as well dream big and go for it. Things usually always work out in conjunction with our dreams and aspirations and I can look at my past life experiences as proof of that.
Prox: Why did you decide to use “A.Muse” as the name for many of the projects? How does this reflect what you’re setting out to accomplish with the collective?
Jason: As I mentioned I grew up a huge fan of Hip Hop and so a lot of the things I have an affinity towards are double/triple entendre’s.
A Muse is a source of inspiration.
Amuse is to have fun.
The period signifies the end of a thought and the beginning of a new one so:
A.Muse Creative, an inspiration to create and have fun while doing so.
Because I love creativity and have a bit of ADD (lol) I wanted to build a platform for creative people of many different disciplines to come together and create. I think because artists want people to feel the art they create it can become a bit of a prison to be stuck in specific labels or boxes of interpretation. Having the ability to create with other artists opens that up a bit.
This is the core of what the company is about, just bringing people together.
We need artists, to create and I just wanted to help be a part of inspiring that creative force.
Even if someone is NOT an artist per say we are all life creators so if that divine spark is nurtured we are able to create some pretty magical shit!
Prox: I saw an interesting tweet you did about having “The Ear”. Could you explain exactly what this ability seems to be and why it eludes so many people?
Jason: IMO, we all were born with gifts…some of us are able to identify these gifts at a very young age and then spend decades refining the gift and ultimately have a communal or societal impact expressing them.
“The Ear” is just my gift. It’s nothing more than an enhanced ability to hear coupled with my Cancerian nature to feel emotion. So I quite literally can feel emotion in music. I just use my ear to do it.
As to why it eludes people, I am not sure. I could go into a diatribe about being connected to source, but to be honest like any ability it has to be first noticed…and then nurtured. I guess you could say it’s the same reason why everyone is not an accomplished painter, or writer, or athlete…it just isn’t his or her gift. Which there is nothing wrong with that.
Prox: What do you look for in artists that you’re interested in collaborating with? Is there a particular sound that you want to hear or is it more about what the artist brings to the table as a whole?
Jason: Great question, man.
As I mentioned above, I feel with my ear. Most of the artists I work with tend to be driven to do what they do not because of some financial motivation but because there is something inside of them that is saying use the arts to express.
As far as “sound” that’s the sound I want to hear hence the multi-genre nature of the label. The “sound” that becomes popular is a sound that’s copied out of a want to be popular. There is nothing wrong with this, but it takes a level of creativity out of the equation.
What I am interested in as a lover of creativity, and now as a label owner is simply…creativity born from a need or love to express source through art.
Prox: Favorite Hobbies?
Jason: Ahh man, music related I am a DJ so I love doing jazz mixes on Saturday/Sunday morning I also have a show every 1st and third Saturday on www.subtle.fm (1PM – 3PM PST) #Shamelessplug
Outside of music I am the most low key person, I like to travel, I’ve been to Italy, Spain, France, Amsterdam and London.
I am a huge gamer so when I am at home I’m usually playing video games to relax, and if it’s nice outside I like hanging out and doing the hiking, chillin next to trees hippie thing.
Also I’m a big sports fan so when I’m not injured I’m playing soccer or basketball and obviously watching both on the boob tube.
Prox: Who are some of your favorite artists and intellectuals?
Jason: My favorite artist list will go on forever but I can share the ones I am inspired by most. Musically Earth Wind and Fire and the Hieroglyphics crew from the Bay Area, California. Earth Wind and Fire was the first music I ever heard that caused me to feel like there was something more about myself I needed to explore.
The Hiero crew are artists from the hip hop generation whose music did the same exact thing, only in Hip Hop form. I like to refer to them as the Earth Wind and Fire of the Hip Hop generation.
As far as intellectuals, I am most definitely inspired by Alan Watts and Jiddu Krishnamurti. Both of these men were spiritualist/philosophers. Alan Watts would say he was no teacher, only an entertainer (meaning lots of thoughts and breakdowns were entertaining thoughts and not meant to be treated as dogma) and Krishnamurti of course being more cerebral into exploring thought and the nature of such. But then applying it and making the discovery practical.
Prox: Tips for aspiring artists?
Jason: The only tip I could ever give anyone is to continue to listen to that inner voice that tells you to create. Try not to focus on the end goal of what is possible from creating and try to focus on creating, learn as much as possible and apply your own flavor to what you learn.
Do your best to not limit your own creativity by willingly placing your expression in boxes and labels. Keep growing as a individual and your art will grow.
Never give up.
Prox: Information on upcoming projects and releases?
Jason: Thanks for asking. We just recently launched our first major release the Magenta EP by Friends w/ Benefits which is available on Spotify/iTunes/Google play or you can download for free at www.amuseaudio.com
All of the releases on the label drop on the equinox dates of each season so March 20th we have something for the Spring coming out from a really talented singer that goes by the name of ‘Meechi’ w/ production by Ohini Jonez out of Georgia as well as some Hip Hop from an artist that goes by ‘Trill Soul’.
Other than the direct music we are just doing our best to continue to connect with artists and people of like mind and really grow as a team.
Prox: Final Thoughts?
Jason: I want to take this time to thank you again for the opportunity to express some thoughts and share the company vision. I also want to thank some people if I can because without them none of this would be possible.
Thank you Brian, Britt, Cooper, Jasson, Joe, Jordan, Alex (Nawabi), Tuna, Diontaye, Shines Fresh, Daniel, Johnny, Alicia, Everyone that ever came to or supported Breathe and was apart of that amazing time, Andy, Judy, and all the Bay Area Dubstep heads.
Thank you to Emma, Owl and everyone who has been apart of creating and building this foundation.
Thank you to the Subtle FM fam and allowing me to share amazing music I love with the world every Saturday afternoon.
Of course thank you to the crew most of who I mentioned above but the new faces especially JMS and Charae, we are creating something very important and I am happy to have you all be apart of it.
Thank you to everyone I come across who is motivated to create and who does what they do for the love of doing it, you inspire me.
Thank you to everyone who is reading this you also inspire me, whether you know it or not.
Life is life man, for all intents and purposes we were born and the only guide we ever truly had was our intuition and love. I believe if we continue to live based on these things we can never lose.
Keep on loving, keep on creating and keep it G.
Be sure to follow Jason on all social media @AMuseAudio or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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