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[New Music Monday] An Interview with Young Heavy Souls | Serenity Gathering 2015

For this week’s #NewMusicMonday, we are featuring up and coming music label Young Heavy Souls out of Detroit. Young Heavy Souls is a label of diverse and talented artists who are bringing the heat from the Midwest. This collective of artists bring several styles of music to the table, allowing them to accurately represent a multitude of genres and sounds. Matt Black, founder of the Midwest based record label, began producing music and collaborating with friends back in 2007 while attending college. It wasn’t long before Black decided to found Young Heavy Souls in 2011. As Black saw his networking expanding, it began to make sense to create a label for promoting and empowering one another as a team. Black is interested in the process of making music from start to finish, and wants to be hands on with every release from Young Heavy Souls. “I don’t want to get into the trap of self promoting over and over,” says Black, continuing on by saying he is more concerned with cross promotion.

Photo by Nina Paletta

Now living and working in Detroit, Black has recently dropped his latest album, “Peace to Mateo,” which marks his first ever full-length instrumental. His previous albums were hip-hop based, where he largely focused on lyricism. Says Black, “[It can be] a really exhausting process writing raps and producing beats.” Soon enough, Black’s desires began to shift, and thus “Peace of Mateo,” which is inspired by hip-hop beats with electronic influences layered throughout, was born. Black describes his sound stating, “It gets very experimental, and goes into dance, electro and hip-hop. All cerebral, and all very much inspired by lofty, heady concepts.” He keeps his tracks consistently down to earth while also keeping his listeners’ heads nodding from the start of his sets to the very end. Various kinds of music influence Black’s style, though he cites Nujabes, J Dilla, Dan the Automator, and the RZA as his biggest influences. Black likes to bring a chill and groovy energy to the stage; dance party vibes are his forte.

Matt Black: SoundCloud

 Kendall D. Lartigue
Photo by Kendall D. Lartigue

Kyle Norton, also known as Nortoniks, has been producing music since he was in middle school, and did his first release with Young Heavy Souls back in 2013. Nortoniks met Black in Grand Rapids, and they have been producing music together ever since. Nortoniks describes Black’s production style as “very receptive, he just runs everything really well.” Black and Nortoniks went head over heels with producing music together; since that time, things have blown up for both Nortoniks and Young Heavy Souls. When speaking to Nortoniks about his experience with producing, the young artist says, “Once I figured out electronic music more, I was able to create the sound that I had in my head originally. I get influenced by sound more than anything, especially with electronic artists you get more influenced by the tone of a keyboard or the sound of a synthesizer.” Nortoniks likes to bring an experience to the dance floor, more than simply another party. Nortoniks uses music as an expression of healing; by infusing tribal elements into his sets, the producer adds to the emotional feels his sound represents.
Nortoniks is set to headline his very first music festival this Summer, so be on the look out for more announcements on that soon, and also keep close to Nortoniks Soundcloud for a CloZee remix that will be released within the next few weeks.

 Nortoniks: SoundCloud.

Photo by Melissa Hudson

Jeff Bouley, better known as MC Friendly, is another artist signed to Young Heavy Souls record label. His most recent album was released in October 2014, entitled “Jeffrey,” an album largely influenced by hip-hop beats. He has been creating music with Young Heavy Souls since 2011, and met Black in Kalamazoo during their time in college. MC Friendly makes hip-hop music that is lyrically introspective; every line he writes is a piece of his soul. Indie rap is a big influence on MC Friendly’s style; specifically several artists in the Grand Rapids community where he lives. When asked about the work Young Heavy Souls does, MC Friendly’s love for the label poured. “It’s good for so many reasons, first of course, they’re all my friends, and I get access to the hottest beats for free!” He laughs before continuing, “It started to snowball and all of the artists really started feeding into each other. If Young Heavy Souls wasn’t a label, we would all just be homies who hung out and blew trees together.” To MC Friendly, performing is a therapeutic experience where he can “vomit all these thoughts and feelings in my head while expressing ideas; it keeps me sane.” He likes to do a lot of ‘call-and-response’ in his performances as well as walking out into the crowd while spitting his verses. This inspired MC told Compose Yourself Magazine, “I just want to be better when it comes to my music. Every time. It [music] has to be honest or I don’t want to make it.”

MC Friendly: SoundCloud.

This collective of artists at Young Heavy Soul are taking all genres of the music scene by storm. Nortoniks, Matt Black, and MC Friendly all have upcoming performances at Serenity Gathering this week, and we are beyond excited to see their sets!
Keep an eye out for stage schedules, and come find us at every Young Heavy Souls set to shake your groove thang with us to the sick and diverse beats this collective will be bringing to the table this weekend in California!

Get familiar with the music from the Young Heavy Souls label, and tune into this playlist featuring several of their artists.


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