Building Lansing with the Bigger Brush Media Music Collective

This past August, three music-minded Michigan friends—Dave Suchanek and Kevin Pritchard, from the indie pop band Loune, and indie folk artist, Carter Moulton—discussed their shared goal to help other artists make their mark on Lansing.

Soon, the independent record label, Bigger Brush Media, was born.

Bigger Brush Media is more than a record label, though. Modeled on the Toronto-based musical collective, Broken Social Scene, Bigger Brush’s artists also feature each other as guest musicians, and share their gear, skills and song ideas. They also have a sense of common purpose: to boost the local Lansing music scene.

Currently, the Capital area collective is nine artists strong. Becoming a member is simple—if you’re talented and dedicated to accelerating Lansing’s creative music movement, you’re in.

Artists involved with Bigger Brush aren’t aspiring for a profit, either, as they often fund collective projects with their own finances.

Instead, they contribute to the movement with one goal in mind: to keep the heart of Lansing’s youthful music culture pulsing with a steady beat.

Making Their Mark

Driven by their love for Michigan, members of Bigger Brush Media actively record tracks, put on local shows and produce albums in hopes of making a lasting imprint on the music scene.

Pritchard records and produces the music—ranging from indie-folk to funk to free verse, and everything in between—right in the basement of his Lansing home.

 As Bigger Brush Media takes off—they’ve got upcoming shows lined up at East Lansing's SCENE Metrospace and Lansing's Mac’s Bar—the collective is receiving praise from those who can feel its positive energy for artistic change.

Suchanek says what sets Bigger Brush Media apart from other record labels is that the group is self-sufficient and does everything under one roof: recording, producing and marketing.

“We don't just pay for a band to go to a studio. We work on everything as a family,” he says.

When it comes to brainstorming creative ideas for the collective, Suchanek, Moulton and Pritchard strike a harmonized note. Their close friendship and love for what they do forms a strong backbone for Bigger Brush Media.

“Dave is really good at thinking up ideas, and Kevin and I help mold those ideas into reality,” says Moulton, a senior at Michigan State University who manages Bigger Brush’s social media network via Facebook and Twitter. “From an artist’s perspective, it’s really exciting to be a part of something with my friends.”

The collaborative group is in the midst of its latest project: the Quilted Attic Sessions, which launched late in 2010. Inside Pritchard’s cozy attic, quilts and Christmas lights set the stage for different Michigan-based artists to perform live each Friday.

Each intimate, three-song session showcases the group's diverse blend of raw talent, and it's streamed to the Internet for free viewing.

“We’re about creating outlets if there aren’t already outlets,” Suchanek says.

Pinched Pennies and Sleepless Nights

With sights set on enhancing Lansing’s music scene, the group knows that change doesn’t come without dedication and sacrifice. On many a night, Pritchard is up editing music until 3 a.m.

But the positive feedback that’s been flooding in—along with an occasional shot of espresso—keeps the collective’s groove going through nights with little to no sleep.

“Our end goal is to make the music scene better,” says Pritchard, whose extra money goes toward recording equipment, which the group jointly purchases and shares.

To ignite sparks of dedication throughout the collective, Pritchard charges artists low rates to record tracks, and may spend up to a month editing a few songs.

Each artist is encouraged to record and re-record until the finished product is something that they are all completely satisfied with.

For Moulton, time spent in the studio isn’t work; it’s being in good company.

“I feel closest to my friends through music. It’s not work when you really enjoy it,” he says.

Made in Lansing

The collective’s vision is that Bigger Brush Media will help support a strong cycle of growth that begins with Lansing’s creative, young minds. Members believe attracting an art scene can also draw businesses and maybe more permanent residents to the Capital region.

“It’s about keeping the graduates. If there’s not a strong music scene, people won’t want to be here,” Suchanek says. “With music, we can inspire more youth to choose Lansing over places like Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids.”

And thanks to Suchanek, who recently moved to Los Angeles to do artist and repertoire work for a West Coast label, Bigger Brush Media may go national.

By networking, Suchanek hopes to connect Bigger Brush’s artists with a sector of the music industry that otherwise wouldn’t look into Michigan.

He sees himself returning to the Mitten State eventually, but thinks now is the ideal time to build national networks for local artists.

“There’s so much talent in Michigan that needs attention,” Suchanek says, explaining that he hopes to connect Bigger Brush Media with radio, touring, TV and film placement opportunities. “We're taking our group of artists to the music industry, but allowing them to live in Michigan.”

And living in Michigan is something that the other artists of Bigger Brush Media value. With an appreciation that’s firmly rooted in Lansing, Moulton says he’d like to stay here after graduation, even though he knows that there are many factors that may affect this decision.

“I’m really dedicated to Lansing,” Moulton says. “There’s this network of people here who really want to do something good for where we live. Everyone in [Bigger Brush] loves the state.”

Regardless where these three end up, they hope to have a lasting impact on Lansing’s music scene. And the impacts they’re making already through Bigger Brush Media will leave a mark on the Capital region’s music scene.

Angie Jackson is a new contributor to Capital Gains. She is a journalism student at MSU who enjoys teaching yoga and rock climbing.

Dave Trumpie is the managing photographer for Capital Gains. He is a freelance photographer and owner of Trumpie Photography.


Quilted Attic Sessions

Kevin Pritchard (lft) and Carter Moulton in the Bigger Brush basement studio

Dan Pechacek

Rick Hale

(lft to rt) Joe Hertler, Pritchard and Hale

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

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