Spirit Award Team Up with Share it Music to Release an Album with a Bigger Purpose
Throughout time, artists have used their work to draw attention to social issues and conceive ways to make the world a better place. Seattle based psych rock trio Spirit Award follows suit with a discography that’s focused on the many inequalities and power imbalances that exist in modern society. Their recently released single “Mountain” is the A-side of Currency, the rest of which will be out in May. “Mountain” is a perfect mixture of fuzzy spaced out ambience, psychedelic riffy goodness, and driving, impactful vocals. “The two songs center around greed, the struggle to have affordable housing, and the large wealth gap that we see/feel personally in Seattle, but also in cities throughout the country and beyond. As artists working in a city with prices ceaselessly increasing, we are often forced to work many hours at multiple jobs in order to maintain the ability to afford to live, making it ever harder to find time and support as artists. This art is the 'currency' that matters most to us, and we want to find ways to use it to bring positivity to people’s lives.”
Like other major cities, Seattle has experienced an influx of wealth that has made it increasingly difficult to find affordable housing. For the last three years the city has officially declared a state of emergency in regards to the growing homeless population. As of 2018 the headcount of people without housing surpassed 12,000, over half of which were unsheltered.
With their upcoming 7” Currency, Spirit Award has been empowered by new label, Share It Music, to give back to the community. A portion of album sales will go towards Mary’s Place, a local-Seattle organization that provides safe, inclusive shelter and services for women, children and families on their journey out of homelessness.The label’s model is a welcomed breath of fresh air in a city blanketed by a smog of apathetic tech money. The label’s mission is to “support independent musical artists and advance community organizations by merging music and social causes.” This is done by artists and the label sharing 25% of proceeds from releases with a charity of the artist’s choice.
Spirit Award is currently on tour in Germany, but I was able to get get in touch with vocalist Daniel Lyon to find out more about what the band has been up to and about their upcoming release.
How has your tour been so far? Any moments that stand out?
Daniel: I think a favorite so far (only a few days into tour now) was playing in a venue in the middle of a field in Haag, Austria that used to be a 15th century cow barn. So much amazing history and loving people. We were gifted with Schnapp's, wine, beer, and hash after the show until we couldn’t handle it anymore.
Where was Currency recorded, and with who?
Daniel: We recorded the two songs at Electrokitty Recording Studio in Seattle with Producer Gary Reynolds and Engineered/Mixed by GG Reynolds.
Are there any guest performances on these songs?
Daniel: Not on these ones. We do have some plans for some upcoming guest spots and collaborations in the future though!
Are there any specific things that made the process of writing and developing this release different or special for you?
Daniel: The first song “Mountain” had been around for a while, but we were always refining it. “Is it enough?” I had written as a solo piano song, and the night we loaded in we had planned on doing another song, but when I sat down at the piano and started playing the song for fun Gary turned to me and said “that’s the song! That’s the fucking song!”. Chris and Terence came in and wrote parts around it, that seemed to fit the vibe instantly. It's a different sound for us, having piano, but it was fun to do something different for this 7".
You’ve said that Muted Crowd was recorded swiftly and that Neverending was a more drawn out process. How was the recording process this release compare?
Daniel: I think there are good things to say about both, but I think finding some middle ground is key. With the first one we took so long because of life circumstances that it was aggravating to not have it finished sooner. That feeling lead us to push ourselves to write and record Muted Crowd faster. We had a lot if demos together so we had a head start. The thought with the next one is to have more focused energy and a more raw and dirty sound than the last two. We’re not stuck to a particular style, but we want to take the energy we have live and put that into a record. We want to take the songs we love from the last two records and harness those good vibes.
Are there any specific inspirations behind these songs?
Daniel: Both songs’ lyrical content focus on some similar content as the songs on Muted Crowd, as they were originally intended to go on that record, but didn't quite have the same vibe. Money, greed, power and the creation of money or 'currency'. We've created a lot of bullshit as a country since, well...I guess since we came here? Touring in Europe and seeing and talking to locals here about the effects of racism and sexism in America fueling those things abroad as well. In Germany it has caused a lot of seemingly quiet nazi groups and bands to feel like they have power again and spread their ideals and presence.
We long for a country that we don't have to spend 80k or more to get a college education, a country where you don't have to go in debt to afford healthcare, a country where racism and hate are not tolerated. We talk big talk but we are not the best nation and we are not caring for our citizens in a responsible loving way. We have one life and we are not born all with it easy. Some need guidance and some need someone to set up a ladder to get over a wall.
"Mountain" was written while I was going through the back and forth of wanting to be an artist but also wanting to not be broke and struggle to find time to actually make art. I go through that back and forth often but so far in the end I find I'm much happier doing what I love than having excess money. The like "In the end you will die like the rest of us, just bound to your golden chains" was a revelation to me seeing insanely wealthy people in Seattle not giving back the excess they have to help their community and living a selfish life.
"Is It Enough?" was written while we were in the studio. I had been kind of in place of anger and defeat over feeling that there was no hope for change or equality. A lot has changed for the good but there are still a lot of people who should talk with people in situations different than their own to kill the "fear" that they have. I'm not trying to complain about my situation, I'm just another white male, but I'm angered at how I see people of color, women, and non-cisgender folks treated and am tired of being silent. It's everyone’s job who believes this to stand up for those who are being oppressed or judged.
Your works seems to focus on the darkness that comes with control, power, and greed. What sparks your interest in this topic?
Daniel: I think a lot of that stems from growing up in a religious house (my dad is a pastor) and for a long time feeling the guilt, fear and depression that comes along with religion. The story of good vs. evil has always been an interesting one to me and like many things we grow up with there are ideas or stories that seem to stick with you as you try and figure out what your own story is. I think a lot of fear goes into thinking something is evil that is inherently not and then you end up giving whatever that thing is power over you.
I believe it's easy to get caught up in control, power and greed because it's like a drug that feels really good to your brain. You are winning and you have the upper hand and you slowly start to care less about others and in most cases more about getting more power. We see this so often in our hometown of Seattle as it has grown and has had some extreme price increases. I think the bottom line and my mantra is that if what you are doing is not hurting others and you are trying your best to bring positivity into this world and care for those around you, you are doing the best you can do as a human.
What made you decide to partner with Share it Music, and specifically chose Mary’s Place for the charity?
Daniel: Share It Music's vision fit right in line with the ideas we have of helping and reaching people through our music and spreading something positive. Sure, we could be another band that just wants to make a pop song, but why not do more than that? We are glad that our new label understands this. I think everyone is capable of giving back in someway through their art or business in even a small way. I hope that we see more of the same drive and love that Share It is bringing to the world.
We chose Mary's Place because we have been so saddened to see families homeless and on the street. [We’re] extremely pleased that they are doing the work they do and happy to be partnered with them!
It was wonderful seeing such a meaningful partnership like this one. I touched base with Share It Music’s founder Cayle Sharratt to learn more about how he got started and how the label works.
Can you tell me about your organization and how it functions?
Cayle: Share It Music is formed as a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit organization, but otherwise operates as a record label. The state and federal rules and regulations that the label is currently organized and registered under require that no director, such as myself, receive income from the organization. So I don't personally receive any income from the operations of the label. All the work that I, and anyone else, put into the label is considered a volunteer contribution. There are no label employees, though I've had a lot of help from friends and co-workers at Sub Pop Records each offering their time and resources. Also, Share It Music releases are distributed by Sub Pop Records.
What inspired you to merge your interest in releasing music with giving back to those in need?
Cayle: There are a lot of inspirations that have led to the launch of Share It Music. To start, I grew up listening to pretty much nothing but punk rock and through that connection I found a group of friends and like-minded people that embrace the values of community, social awareness, and the DIY attitude. To me, much of that music and those values go hand-in-hand. Share It Music was also inspired by my decision to go to law school and the experiences I had as a student at Seattle University School of Law. Prior to applying to law school, but after graduating from undergrad at Western Washington University, I didn't have a clear idea of what I wanted to do. In that time I enjoyed internships at nonprofits like The Borgen Project (Seattle) and The Merit School of Music (Chicago) as well as at Sub Pop Records. Through these experiences, finding a way to combine social causes and the independent music community became a clear goal for me. At Seattle University School of Law there's a major emphasis on social justice, with a lot of opportunities to participate and engage in that pursuit both within the coursework and through extracurricular groups. Being around and a part of that environment really solidified and strengthened my feelings about community service and support and also taught me the importance and necessity of putting thoughts and words into action. And these are just a few of the inspirations that have led to Share It Music! All these experiences and more have had a part in the launch of Share It Music.
How did your partnership with Spirit Award come to be?
Cayle: I was fortunate to be introduced to Spirit Award's music by a friend and former co-worker who also works with Daniel and Terence at another job. My friend knew that Share It Music was up and running and was eager to share Spirit Award's work. This was just around the time that their album Muted Crowd was released. Just after that, another coworker introduced me to Spirit Award's manager. He and I met and there was mutual interest in working together on Spirit Award's next project, which is Currency, the two-song single that we'll be releasing in May! To me, this really exemplifies the community aspect of what Share It Music is striving to support, in that this project came together as the result of friends and networks sharing their interests and connections to advance community interests.
How could an artist interested in working with you get involved?
Cayle: Share It Music is still very much in its infancy, so the goal for the foreseeable future is to simply sustain operations by continuing to release music by artists interested in giving back to and supporting the local communities that have supported them and their work. To do that, we'll continue to look for and sign artists that share this socially conscious interest and do so within our means. I have no doubt that there's an endless amount of artists that share this goal, so it's just a matter of continuing to make connections and to listen to recommendations and suggestions that people pass along. If artists are interested in specific aspects of the label, I'm happy to answer questions. And if artists want to pitch their music, I'm all ears! Just be aware that given the small scale of the label, the capacity is still pretty limited.
Do you have any other releases planned that you’re looking forward to?
Cayle: At the moment, nothing is scheduled after the release of Spirit Award's Currency in May. Though it's entirely possible that there'll be more from Share It Music this year...so stay tuned!
Where’s the best place we can follow your work?
Cayle: Share It Music is online at www.shareitmusic.org. On the website there's a bunch of info on the artists we work with, the community organizations they've chosen to support, tour dates, news items, media clips, our mission statement, and links to access and purchase the artist's music. Share It Music is also present on bandcamp at shareitmusic.bandcamp.com. Finally, Share It Music is active on social media at @shareitmusic on Instagram and @ShareItMusic on Twitter. Give us a follow!
Awesome! Definitely look out for the great work that Share It Music is doing for Seattle and for Spirit Award’s Currency, which will be out May 17th and can be pre-ordered HERE.