Interview: Oh, Sleeper (Micah Kinard) – “Let the Fans Become our Record Label”

Last week, we managed to get hold of Micah Kinard – from Oh, Sleeper – on the phone to find out more about their Indiegogo campaign, going at it as an independent band, lions, university and higher education.

MR: What have you thought about the response to your Indiegogo campaign thus far?

MK: So far it’s been hugely encouraging. It’s so awesome to see, it’s around 600 contributors now I think, joining in and banding together to help to get our music out. We’re just about two thirds of the way to our target, and we’re feeling confident about hitting it. We’re already getting artwork made up, we’ve got the songs written and we have everything planned out. We’re just hoping to hit our target so we can get everything out there. (***ed – They’ve hit their target and surpassed it by quite a bit now, but there are still some great packages and ‘investment options’ available)

MR: It has been said that you came up with the vision and direction that the EP will be going in; do you have any details on what we can expect?

MK: Yes! Actually, we will be posting details soon about the concept; we will also be releasing the artwork to get people excited about the release. It’s going to be a completely new concept and not a continuation of something we’ve done before. We’re taking a new approach to things this time. The EP will be more supplemental to the concept we have come up with, rather than embodying the whole concept itself. We’re also hoping to release other things that will help explain the concept such as books, our music videos that may be able to explain some things that the music may not; we’ve even considered comic books.

All these things will be part of the concept we want to put out there; and if you take each one of these individual things and dive into them, and try and put them together, you’ll get a clearer picture of what is going on.

MR: You guys said that if you raised enough funds, you would consider doing a second EP. Why would you do this instead of going for a full length album instead?

MK: The reason for that is, our goal is to get into the studio, record, mix, master and release the music before Warped Tour. Rushing through an album, even if it’s already written, will take about a month, and that’s if you’re racing along. By doing the EP we can get everything done, and we promised to have it by the beginning of Warped, and that is going to involve paying rush fees already.

Part of the money is also going towards fixing our van and buying a new trailer. The money will also go towards an art campaign, t-shirt designs etc; everything that makes a band tick! The whole idea is that, if people want the music, we want to give it to them.

We aren’t a millionaire band, if we don’t tour, we don’t make money. If fans are willing to pre-order our music, we’ll make it. Unfortunately we aren’t on a label, so funding for a mid-level band like ourselves can be very scarce.

MR: There doesn’t seem to be much floating around on the internet as to why you left Solid State once your recording deal was up. Why didn’t you sign with them again, or with any other label for that matter?

MK: Well, there were a number of factors. One of which, was the rise of crowd-funding. The idea that you can do something on the same scale as a record label, with just the support of your fans is awesome!

A lot of the time when we were on the label, people wanted to buy our albums at the shows, directly from us, with the distinct mindset that the money would be going to us that way, and not just to the label. We always had to respond to that with, “Thank you so much! We really appreciate that! But, even if you are buying the albums at the shows, we still had to buy those albums from the label at a premium anyway”.

There was also very little profit while on the label. That profit we wanted to feed into our band fund, that way we can fix our van, get a new trailer, make more music videos, everything that we can give to the fans.

The thought was, let the fans band together, and become our “record label”. That way the only people we have to answer to, would be them. Every dollar they spend in the hope of supporting us, would support u, instead of going into another pocket first!

Also, getting ideas through the label was so much back and forth. The admin and debt involved with a label wasn’t great either. By doing this crowd-funding, everything is now streamlined, and the fans feel more included. They will always know that, we got where we are, directly because of them!

MR: You guys are a Christian band, do you ever think the label of being a Christian band hurts the growth of your popularity as a band?

At the beginning of the band, we were definitely an outspoken Christian band; but as the years have gone by, we have gone through certain member changes. Not all of our members share the Christian view, they support us and our beliefs, but they don’t necessarily engage in that same belief. I myself am a Christian, and when I write passionately from my heart, that view will still come out, which the band supports.

We would be lying if we said we can still operate under the Christian umbrella, and say everything we do is characterized by a Christian motivation.

I think putting yourself into any form of religious or political genre is bound to have implications on your popularity growth. It instantly pigeonholes you away from certain demographics. There will be people that will encounter your genre and instantly decide that they don’t want to listen to it, before even judging it on the merit of the music.

My goal is to get my music out to as many people as possible; I don’t want to be discounted straight off the bat. I want people to listen to my music, and then decide. If my music can help people in anyway, be it encouragement, escapism or by shedding light on something I may understand, that they don’t yet, then I want to do it.

Also, a band is a business. There is no such thing as a Christian business. It can’t exist. There can be Christian people within a business, but at the end of the day, a business is just a company and it doesn’t have beliefs. By labeling ourselves Christian just separates us from a lot of potential fans.

MR: Your Twitter handle is @micahlikeslions. Have you ever seen lions in the wild?

MK: I haven’t yet, but it’s definitely on my bucket list. The only place I have seen lions is in the zoo and on National Geographic!

MR: That’s not acceptable, we need to get you out here then!

MK: That’s what I’m saying! That’s what I keep saying!

MR: You went to university. What did you major in?

MK: I went to the University of North Texas; and I was majoring in radio, television and film. I was also doing a minor in theater performance. Ultimately I wanted to be a screenwriter and write movie scripts. That’s when the band started to form. I think my history and hopes of being a screenwriter adds to my lyric writing.

A lot of my song writing creates a scene and a story. I always want to figure out who the characters are and where they are going. I like trying to create an environment almost like being in a movie.

MR: Do you see education establishments like universities as places that expand one’s mind, or do they tend to confine them?

MK: A little bit of both happens. Universities contain their own political and spiritual beliefs. In turn, the university as a whole tends to act with some bias. Anywhere you go, and any teacher you find, will have been run through a filter, and presented in a way they understand.

It’s also wonderful because it opens you up to different points of view. However, to take everything as fact defeats the purpose of learning. The second you believe you know everything about something, is the second you become ignorant.

I think there is such a vast knowledge and so many teachers that can offer different points of view, you can decide what to accept and what to refute. That is perhaps the most important thing.

You need to embrace the bias, encounter it, and form your own beliefs.

MR: Finally; if you were a superhero, what would you name be?

MK: Oh man! This is a big one!

MR: This could define your career, just saying…

MK: Yeah, this is a good one! Well, I can tell you what I would have?

I would have telekinesis! Let me explain why…

You consider things like flying; why not pick that as a superpower? Flying would be awesome, but when it comes down to it, if you have telekinesis, you just need to think about moving the shoes you are wearing upwards, and you’ll be flying! As far things like super strength, and moving water, etc. You can do that all with telekinesis.

My name would have to be, ummmmm… I would have to say… King Awesome!

MR: King Awesome?

MK: Super King Awesome! Gotta get the super in there!

Oh, Sleeper still has a few days left on their Indiegogo campaign. If you’re a fan, go support the boys, and check out some of the awesome perks they have to offer!

Written by Wayde Flowerday

Wayde is a student at the University of Witwatersrand, doing his Masters in Economic Science. When not hitting the books he can be found at live shows; drinking energy drinks and being a potential liability. Find him at @WTF__FTW