The kids are motivated

Desoplex Records is an independent label and artist collective for music and multimedia — and kids in high school run it.

Ian Underhill-Cady, right, Max Finch-Raymond, center, and Toivo Hannigan, left, of hip hop group Pseudoubt rehearse in their garage in south Minneapolis on Tuesday. Pseudoubt are one of multiple musical acts within the family of Desoplex Records, an art collective formed by current high school seniors.

Alex Tuthill-Preus

Ian Underhill-Cady, right, Max Finch-Raymond, center, and Toivo Hannigan, left, of hip hop group Pseudoubt rehearse in their garage in south Minneapolis on Tuesday. Pseudoubt are one of multiple musical acts within the family of Desoplex Records, an art collective formed by current high school seniors.

Jared Hemming

While they were juniors in high school, the members of Pseudoubt wanted their friends in the band. One problem — some of those friends weren’t musicians.

So Pseudoubt’s beat producer Adrian Williams, rapper Max Finch-Raymond and guitarist Jack Madson brought in 11 other creative pals to create a new art label: Desoplex Records.

“We’re collaborating, but we all bring such a different individual focus,” Finch-Raymond said. “We all have really different personalities, and it’s a weird thing that we all get along.”

Since last year, Desoplex Records has operated as a banner under which the 14 teenagers collaborate on music, album artwork and multimedia together.

“I don’t know any other group of 17- to 18-year-olds that are as committed and motivated as us,” Finch-Raymond said. “I don’t know any other friend group that would get together on a Saturday evening for a two-hour meeting.”

Among the group’s non-musicians, Desoplex’s Jae Shin Cross produces music videos for Pseudoubt and fellow Desoplex band Origami Bones, rendering both acts’ experimental, ambient and hip-hop sounds in visuals.

“I’m in Desoplex because I want to mix music and other mediums as a new way of live performance,” Shin Cross said.

She also helped turn Origami Bones’ record release show into a gallery space for her and Desoplex’s other visual artists.
The collective funds itself through clever independent art strategies — at shows, Desoplex gives each audience member a CD as a part of the ticket.

“As of right now, no one’s making any money,” Origami Bones vocalist Mackenzie Monk said. “[The] releases are funded by everything that everybody does.”

This savvy cash flow helped Pseudoubt’s live keyboardist Ian Underhill-Cady produce his solo album. That project bankrolled Origami Bones’ debut “One,” and each Desoplex show follows a similar pattern of funding the next thing.

“Obviously, we would all enjoy money,” Underhill-Cady said. “I think the fact that we aren’t making any really keeps the focus in the art and the quality.”

Among Desoplex’s full-time commitment, Finch-Raymond said regular high school pressures are difficult to balance.

“I could write this speech for speech class, or I could listen to and sign-off on these final mixes for my new album,” Finch-Raymond said. “What’s going to do more for me in my future as of this moment? It’s a hard decision to make.”

While Desoplex will continue building momentum at Pseudoubt’s show with Treading North at the Triple Rock Thursday, the artists have one looming fear inhibiting the collective’s growth — graduation.

Aside from Monk, Desoplex’s entire staff is finishing high school this spring, and all plan to attend different colleges in the fall.

“We’ll have a wider spread of influence because our members will be in different territories,” Pseudoubt’s live bassist Toivo Hannigan said. “On another hand, we’ll be separated, so we may not have as much power.”

For Monk and Williams, who created Origami Bones together along with Desoplex member Sam Hoch, this won’t be a hindrance for the band’s creative process.

“The whole Origami Bones album we made over the Internet, sending files back and forth,” Williams said. 
If nothing else, Shin Cross said, Desoplex’s members plan to collaborate more during school breaks next year, embracing the change that reflects the group’s varying personalities.

“If you’re in a band with people all like you, how much are you really going to grow?” Shin Cross said.

Regardless, the group can agree that Desoplex’s future is one of their top priorities.

“When we close our eyes and think about Desoplex, I think we all are on the same wavelength,” Williams said. “Our music equally suits an art gallery as much as a house/college party in a basement.”

 

What: Treading North with Pseudoubt
When: 8 p.m. Thursday
Where: Triple Rock Social Club, 629 S. Cedar Ave., Minneapolis
Cost: $5-$8
Age: 18+