Chas Bronxson on Entrepreneurship, White Washing and New Projects

ATM: When did you first want to start a record company? What changes have you noticed in the music industry seen making this choice?

CB: When I did not get the opportunity to fulfill a publishing contract that was offered to me. It looked like the only type of deal I would get was a deal structured to the best interest of the people offering the contact. The only ways my music would get put out in the way I wanted to see it was to have a vehicle in place to do this myself. Instead of relying on someone else’s label. Also, I saw most people who get signed with another label at some part they value of their music decreased. I felt like if I had my outlet that the amount of material that I put out would not be determined by someone. This seemed more advertising for my career and what I was trying to do.

The importance of knowing who to sign and who not to sign and why. Put it like this, why is it not necessarily best to sign a particular person.

ATM: What were the beginning stages as an entrepreneur in the music business?

CB: You realize that you are responsible for everything that happens for the label in the beginning. The responsibilities only increase as time goes on as you start doing work and putting music out. At some part, you have to hire people to do certain tasks. I was used to doing everything on my own up to this point. It was not that much, but as you go, you start to get involved in things that require that you bring people abroad. You cannot do all of the stuff. At some point, you want to delegate and put it in the hands of people. This will save time. You will try to do everything and will not have time for yourself. You want to establish a relationship with your lady or guy. You want to be able to nourish and feed this.

If you are always in the office, then there is no way to do this. Some people will try not to delegate and do it all on their own. It ends up costing them. I remember seeing this guy who worked in a bakery. I would see him in early morning while going to work at like 5:30 am. I saw him faithfully opening up his shop every morning. One day I asked him on my way into work, I asked him what it is like being your own man and the business owner of your shop. His response was, “It sucks.” This has to suck getting up every day and this is your business. He had been doing this for 25 or 30 years, and you do not see anything from it. His thinking was that people are not buying pastries anymore like they used to do. It was not increasing him, but it was costing him. Let’s say he was making money in his business. Imagine him trying to deal with all those customers by himself. This is not good. You must have the idea to anticipate on people to assist in accomplishing your goal.

ATM: Why are you relaunching your label?

CB: Everything that I was doing and the volume that was coming I wanted to put under the umbrella of M.O.U.N Records. I wanted to tie everything together because it was all relative. There is a video album that I am going to put out for the songs that are on Group H.U.G.S and some that did not make the cut. Rather than to move on to some of the other projects that are coming, I figured I put everything back under the M.O.U.N label and do it this way.

ATM: What talents or skills does a person need to have to be considered for your label?

CB: If I did sign someone else and they were interested in working on my label, then I would like to see a passion for their craft. I would have to see something I want to work with. The talent must have the desire to work for me. Not everybody is prepared to do this. There is a lot of work involved. Just because of the talent it does not mean you do not have to develop it. You have to want to develop it. It is for this reason that I do not look to sign anyone. If someone expresses interest in signing with my outfit and my input, then these are some of the things I look for.

I look for the passion and drive to do it. I always say you can have the passion for doing something, but if you do not have the talent, then your passion means nothing. You can have all the talents, but if you do not have the drive to do it, then what is the point. You ever see someone who had a gift to do something? They might be tall and shoot a real good basket, but they do not want to play basketball. They do not understand it is not their calling. You got to have a love for something. I always say the thing that you will get wealthy at; it is the thing you are willing to do for free. The thing you do for free is the thing you have a passion for. It is something you will do all day and all night. Even when you are not associated with or tied to it. When you do it every day and all day you become excellent at it. When you become excellent at it, you can draw a demand. People will want to have your services. They will hire you for your services because you are that good. They will pay you for it.

ATM: It does come down to what would you do nonstop without getting paid. Some people do not know what they want to do. This is fine. Whether it is music or acting, people need to find their passion. The quicker you do, the quicker you can put it to work. Everyone has a passion. It is the thing you do without getting paid. It is the thing that is an addiction. You cannot help it. It is the thing that wakes you up and the thing that puts you to bed.

CB: Right. That’s how you can tell it something you like doing. You go to bed doing something. You then fall asleep doing it. This just with you loves doing. Do you have a personal day job?

ATM: Is this a personal question?

CB: Yes, I am asking you.

ATM: This is what I do all day.

CB: Hopefully this is your passion. Some people go to work because it is a need to pay their bills. Those people if they did not get a check, then they would not go to work. When it is your passion, you continue doing it because you like to. Is writing your passion?

ATM: Yes, and asking a lot of questions more than the average person. Unique questions just always come to me.

CB: Oh, asking questions. (Laughs). So, you love being a journalist.

ATM: I love asking questions and different questions. I am always curious and inquisitive. What age were you when discovering your passion?

CB: I was two according to my mother. They used to have records made of wax. It was pressed from wax. They called them 45s. It had labels on them — the label from the record company. It was their sticker. The label was made for every record company. Motown had theirs. The list goes on. As a kid, my mother said she would have company over her house, and I was disc jockeying at two. I was standing at the record set. I would get another one when one song went off. I could not read. I was identifying the song by the color labels on the record. This is how I knew what was. It has always been in my blood. I would always be over near the disc jockeying looking what he was doing while going to parties. This was more intriguing to me. I was always trying to get phone number and talk to the cute girls. I would always gravitate over near the DJ. The music was always what to drew me in. I wanted to create it myself and not just listen to it. I never thought about how I was going to do it.

I was mesmerized by Stevie Wonder and how he did the runs with his voice. It was not like anything I had ever heard. When hip-hop came out, I was like any other kid trying to rap. Back during the 50s and 60s, guys used to sing doo-wop on the corner. Everyone would be on the corner trying to harmonize. I would not be older enough to go to the jams when Hip Hop broke out. I was out there with every other kid before my curfew. This took my passion for music to another level. Everyone wrote their little rhymes. This got me into writing. I had no passion for writing until Hip Hop came out. It was for my little group. It just grew from here. You had to write back then If you did not write your stuff, then you were nailed. You were nailed to the wall. You would be knocked out of the neighborhood for reciting someone else’s words. They would call you a Biter.

ATM: Why is there anger around the unrepresented Black artists?

CB: I was angry and irritated about the lack of attention for the many R&B groups. These groups were not getting the attention. These groups came before us. This causes their careers never to get highlighted. I realized this throughout the bulk of my research. I pay respect to these groups in my song Group H.U.G.S. (Honoring Unforgettable Groups of Soul). I decided to do my tribute and generate funds to be donated to the Living Legend Foundation.

ATM: How did you discover the Living Legend Foundation?

CB: I discovered them by accident. I scrolled through someone’s link and saw their advertisements. I have always been searching for an organization to donate funds about music.

ATM: Explain how all the group’s stories surprised you.

CB: The world had no idea about them. The mainstream radio did not play their songs. My video is over eight minutes. I wanted to get as much of the great acts as possible. Did you recognize any of the groups?

ATM: Yes, a little. A lot my family listens to old R&B. I was aware of about 40% of the music in your video. I other half has been sampled in various art forms of music.

CB: This is good. Most people could not say a percentage.

ATM: You have to keep in mind some of the music was from their generation. They have not adapted to our generation. It will be the same for when I play music for kids in the future. I would play Drake, Future, and others. The next generation will have their selection of music artists. It is a continuing cycle.

CB: There is the continuity. There is a radio station in New York that plays hits from that era. The Beatles have a song called Shout. However, the Isley Brothers came out with it first. They did not put out their version. This happened with the Bob Marley’s I Shot the Sheriff. They will not play his version. This has made me angry. We do not get the chance to get originated. There is more attention when a white artist performs the song. I have always wondered why. You have Usher and Chris Brown. Why when a white person does it there is more hype? People do backflips and express the greatness of the song. It is overshadowed when a black person puts out a song. It comes out as basic when they put it out despite their hard work.

ATM: I liked how your video exposed a lot of knowledge about black music. Through each of the clips, you can see the dramatic changes of the period. You see changes in the way people dressed, wore their hair, and dance moves. The disposition was different from how the mic was held. The lyrics became more commercialized and just different. Their hard work with this video exposes this very much. People get to see black culture right in front of them. The younger generation has no idea about these groups. They are not being taught them in school. Thank you for this inspiring video about black music. Now kids can have a video to share or put in their project about black music or the history of black music.

CB: Thanks for acknowledging this because it was my goal from the beginning. I wanted to educate and help people. A lot of these artists became so discouraged with the music industry. They stopped recording or just did not have talent. Their lyrics ended in the hands of white recording labels and was given to a white artist. People never knew what they created. They were not business savvy.

ATM: It makes you think about where these groups would be today in the lineup of black R&B today. Would the groups that came after they be as big? How different would music have been? Did they hurt the legacy for black music? Did they help pave the way for future music?

CB: I did not want to complain and talk about what others were not doing. I decided to do it. This can be the template for studying our culture. I did not want to wait around for someone to do it.

ATM: You did not make an excuse. I am okay with someone sitting around talking about their issues with something and making a change. If someone is talking but not making a change, then this is not fine. They should get up and make a change. A lot of people probably thought of this idea but did not take the time to do it.

CB: I am glad you said this. Did you get a chance to see P.R.E.T.E.X.T video?

ATM: Yes.

CB: That song goes into the white appropriation of our artists. Group H.U.G.S. goes into the groups. I am coming out with a new song every week. There is a song on the album called When They are Gone. I put this together for Michael Jackson’s birthday. I just finished editing it.

ATM: The best thing about music is that when the artist dies their music still lives on.

CB: Yes.

ATM: This makes music powerful. It becomes history as soon as you click on the record button. This is whether it gets publicized or not. You can replay it a million times. This is even better when you can play the music a hundred times and still get the same feeling. This happens with music by Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, and Luther Vandross. The essence of music is immortal.

CB: You are right. This is why people should put their best music out. You never know how you will touch people. You should always come from the heart. If you perform the song well, then a new generation will take to it.  You remember the movie called The Bodyguard?

ATM: Yes.

CB: You know the story about the song I Will Always Love You?

ATM: Yes, it was originally a song by Dolly Parton.

CB: Dolly Parton could have been homeless with no money in Time Square. Once Whitney sang the song, she would be rich.  She owns the song. It is always a good thing for an artist to try their best as a songwriter. You will reap the benefits. We never got the chance to do this because we were not savvy with the contracts. Yes, the music lives on.

ATM: There is no one still to this day that can hit her high note. You must perfect your craft in a way that no one can touch or remake it.

CB: Like no one can touch it. Do not even try to touch it.

ATM: Right. This was the same for Maxwell’s song This Woman’s Work.

CB: Oh yes!

ATM: A British singer named Kate Bush originally sang this.

CB: This was considered the abortion song to the guys. We thought the lyrics were saying to get an abortion. You never think of the person who does it originally. Are you familiar with Aretha’s music?

ATM: Otis Redding on Respect.

CB: Yes. Carole King wrote a song called You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman. Aretha did such a great job that King said you own the song now. No one can outdo Aretha. She also has a song called Dr. Feel Good. Listen to the live version. She was so talented. The sexual undertones were powerful. Also, listen to Michael Jackson’s Down with the Boogie.

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Gabrielle Alexandra Smith

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