We had the good fortune of connecting with Colson XL and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Colson, what role has risk played in your life or career?
As terrifying as it often is, we think risk taking is essential to growth for any new business, but especially as an independent artist. Taking calculated risks often puts you outside of your comfort zone and requires sacrifice of some control, but it also gives you an opportunity to grow, both personally and professionally. Additionally, you gain new data to work with and inform future decisions. For example, if we take a risk with our music and release a sound that is new for us, we get the opportunity to see how people will react to it, whether positive or negative, and take that lesson with us for future writing sessions. There is no 100% guaranteed way to obtain success as an entrepreneur. Of course you can look for guidance from others who have more experience and use that information to your benefit, but the landscape is always changing and it’s important to test new strategies and learn through your own personal experiences. No two paths to success are identical. Naturally there are commonalities; habits or trends present in most cases, but every success story is unique and every business requires a tailored strategy. Whether it’s new social media, outreach, promotion, or production strategies, oftentimes the best way to learn is to take the risk and invest your time and money into it yourself. We are definitely not risk averse, in both our lives and careers. That being said, it’s important to make sure the risks you take aren’t all in. It’s important to have skin in the game, both monetarily and time-invested, but understanding and accepting that nothing is guaranteed, having something to fall back on will provide comfort and relief when things inevitably seem like they’re taking a turn for the worse. Each of us attended University and graduated with our Bachelor’s degree. Emphasis on the calculated side of risk taking, we feel empowered to take risks because we laid a solid foundation to support ourselves financially. Granted, neither of us particularly ENJOY working a 9-5 office job, but it’s a means to an end and keeps us out of our parents’ homes.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
We are pretty firmly rooted in the dance music space. Something that sets us apart sonically is our adherence to pop structure while using experimental processes and sounds to get a familiar, yet unique sound. We always try to incorporate some distinct ‘Colson XL element’ that makes the song our own and stick out. Something we also believe that sets us apart from others is how we work as a duo. We’ve been close friends for over 18 years, and this relationship has given us a unique, fluid creative process that allows us to release music very consistently and frequently. In 2020 alone we release 19 songs. The majority of these tracks we produced, engineered, developed promotion strategies, pitched to labels, collaborated with visual artists within the year as well. It has definitely been all gas no brakes since we started releasing music. This is a good segue into how we have gotten to where we are today. Our schedule has been instrumental in us not only growing our project, but also helping us get better at what we do, allowing us to make big strides in our craft and get bigger opportunities. At least once a month we self-release a song independently in addition to label releases throughout the year and it definitely has been a lot of work, but also extremely rewarding. Obviously there have been challenges along the way and there are a couple ways we’ve overcome them (and there are also many challenges we are currently tackling and trying to find solutions for). First and foremost one of the best things you can do is invest your own time researching and learning. You can find a DIY solution to nearly anything on the internet. When this fails, pulling from the experience of others has been extremely helpful for us. Our mentors have a wealth of experience that we are always able to get insight from. We usually end up doing a combination of these two. It is also important to actually implement whatever solution you’ve found. You can have all the knowledge in the world but unless you actually start applying it as soon as possible, weeks can go by and the challenge or problem is still there. Setting aside a specific time to implement is essential.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This is a tough one! We’ve only been here in Austin, TX since October, 2020 and have been following Covid restrictions accordingly, so we haven’t really gotten to explore the city much. That being said, we’re going to do our best. First stop – Paco’s Tacos for their breakfast burrito. Locally owned and operated, this place has some of the best tacos we’ve had and their breakfast burrito is to die for. Oh, and good luck not leaving with a smile. Everyone there is so nice. Too nice 🤔 Without wasting any time, we’d make our way to Zilker Park! It’s one of the city’s largest attractions. It spans 350 acres and sits at the juncture of Barton’s Creek and the Colorado River. It’s a wonderful way to get out of the house while remaining socially distant, despite the park being full of people. Lunch would be some Texas BBQ at Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que. It’s pretty safe to say at this point that we had NO IDEA what real BBQ was until we came to Texas. It’s a must. The city of Austin is actually really cool. Even though it isn’t safe to go inside, just taking a stroll down 6th street and seeing all the bars, venues, and shops on either side of the street is exciting. It’s easy to imagine how much fun this city will be once Covid has passed. Last, but certainly not least, we’d close the night at RA Sushi. They have a beautiful rooftop bar right in downtown Austin and we have a bit of attachment to the place as it was the first place we went out to once we arrived in Austin from Los Angeles. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
We have been incredibly fortunate with the people we’ve met along our journey. We’ve received nothing but love, encouragement, and friendship from nearly everyone we’ve met and we know that isn’t the case for everyone. We can’t express our gratitude for that enough. However, there are two exceptional individuals who stand out above the rest. Adrian Reed (stage name: capshun) has been irreplaceable as both a mentor and a friend. He was one of the first larger artists to take an interest in our project and in us as people. He is much more experienced than us within this industry and freely offered invaluable guidance and insight into what has helped him grow and become successful so that we might be able learn from his own journey. Adrian is one of those connections that has evolved far beyond professional and we hope we keep the privilege of calling him a friend for many years to come. The next person, Michael Cullen, is arguably one of the main reasons we have seen the growth we have with Colson XL. We were completely new to the music industry when we met Michael and we had weekly meetings with him for the first year and half of this project. He completely opened our world musically and showed us how to navigate the industry. Everyday we use the tools and techniques he taught us during our weekly meetings and the foundation for our strategy is completely built on what Michael taught us. Even though we don’t meet with him as frequently for calls currently, he is always receptive to our questions (and oh boy do we have a lot of those), roots for our success, and still introduces us to new people and lets us know about new opportunities. There is a lot of mysticism and uncertainty that encapsulates the music industry, but both Michael and Adrian have been able to help us understand what success means and how to achieve it. We cannot express enough how comforting and encouraging it is to have even that sliver of certainty in all of this chaos. They’ve also encouraged us to build our project with an emphasis on genuinely expressing ourselves rather than just for monetary gain.