North Texas Daily

16 Denton artists unite to create record label

16 Denton artists unite to create record label

16 Denton artists unite to create record label
April 16
11:00 2021

UNT students walk around campus and hear all types of music: jazz, hip-hop and the lonely notes of a singular guitar which ooze out of every corner. Whatever the instrument or style, it is very much music, and it is very much Denton.

Denton’s music scene inspired a group of local musicians to create a record label called Tuba Stephen. The label’s roster consists of sixteen artists, and they each contributed to its first compilation album, “Olio.”

Jeremiah McGhee, Tuba Stephen artist and label founder, said he faced difficulties putting together the record, but he used his network of musicians to find artists interested in recording tracks for the album.

“I just started reaching out to friends who had solo music projects and was just gauging interest to try and get a small group as a foundation for it,” Jeremiah said. “Coordinating with that many people can be difficult, and then it took a little bit to solidify what our starting lineup would be, so probably the hardest part was just getting people to be aware of it at first.”

Tuba Stephen artist Terry Thompson said Jeremiah has been forming relationships with artists in the industry for years.

“Jeremiah’s got an advantage too,” Thompson said. “He’s been building his network for years and as a middle schooler, [he] was booking gigs for earlier bands.”

Musician Avery Lyda contributed music to the premiere album and came up with the label’s name. The inspiration for the name “Tuba Stephen”came  from a gag list of baby names, and the group approved.

The idea to start a record label sparked during the beginning of the pandemic because the artists could no longer partake in live performances, but they still wanted to have a sense of community and share their love for music.

“The fact that we were able to get an album out during this time really shows how dedicated these artists are and just how much love has been put into this project,” Avery said.

Thompson’s songs on the record are reminiscent of the ’90s lo-fi movement, with grungy guitars and deep, throaty vocals.

“It’s cool too because that do-it-yourself sound is important, [and] finding our way as artists is important,” Thompson said. “A few of my favorite tracks on the album are [from Lindy], Jameson and Gabe — that raw creativity, there’s magic in that. There’s a creativity there to hear that rawness, which I think is cool.”

The faces behind Tuba Stephen wanted to use their platform to bring rawness back into the music industry. Musician and Jeremiah’s father Rob McGhee said “Olio” provides a fresh look into how a song’s bare-bones can become powerful through the process.

“It does what to me all really good albums do, which is that it has a consistency that runs through it,” Rob said. “I think we have enough bands and artists and history that we have in common, yet there is a tremendous amount of variety that holds it together.”

Denton artist Lindy Lyda, who goes by the stage name “Merricat,” contributed songs to the album despite her minimal songwriting experience.

“I love that variety, and I think it really shows off the talent and the differences between this small community of musicians,” Lindy said.

Experienced guitarist Justin Piel was featured on “Olio” and said the record has a unique sound.

“One of the things that I really love about the album is a bunch of individual personalities coming together and sharing a piece of themselves, as it ties into the DIY culture around Denton and shines a light on the creative people in this community,” Piel said.

Julie McGhee, labelmate and Jeremiah’s mother, said an important part of the album is the connectedness of the artists involved.

“To have this group of people come together with all this talent and this love for creativity, anytime someone is vulnerable and puts music out to the world like that, it is such a gift,” Julie said. “It is really beautiful for this group and [the] connection we have created with one another.”

Singer and songwriter Oliver Engel released music for the first time on this record and said his musical inspiration comes from close to home.

“A lot of the people on the record are some of my biggest inspirations,” Engel said. “I know most of them very personally. I’ve been in bands with them and they have introduced me to whole new sides of music, and they inspired me to get so much better at music and keep up.”

In a post-pandemic world, Engel said he is looking forward to performing live, either solo or with other label members.

Tuba Stephen will donate the money raised from “Olio” sales to Aphelion, a student-founded nonprofit dedicated to promoting equity and education worldwide. The organization currently sponsors the education of a girl in Kenya.

Those interested in listening to “Olio” can do so on Spotify and Bandcamp.

Courtesy Tuba Stephen Records

About Author

Matthew Iaia

Matthew Iaia

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2 Comments

  1. Avery
    Avery April 16, 15:07

    So grateful to be a part of this amazing team, thanks again for the article Matt!!

    Reply to this comment
  2. Dean
    Dean April 17, 16:08

    Love that you high lighted local success stories! Music is the soul of Denton and these artists shine that light. You are helping their art be heard, Matthew!

    Reply to this comment

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