Memphis Musicians Reflect on ’23, Look Ahead to ’24

As we embark on a new year, we decided to look both backwards and forwards with a handful of some of our favorite Memphis musicians, who shared their reflections on the year that was and their goals for the coming months…

Preauxx

“2023 Was The Most Successful Year Of My Career. I’m Every Way, But It Was The Most Stressful Year. A Lot Of Wins And More Lessons Along The Way. I Never Do A Good Job Of Reflecting..But I’m Extremely Grateful For This Year. 2024 I’m Just Focused On The Re$ults. I Didn’t Get A Chance To Drop Any New Projects. I Was Touring The World, Modeling, And Getting To A Bag All Year At The Same Time. But I Got Plenty To Talk About Now. Thanks To All On This Journey With Me. 2024 Is Already Looking Fruitful.”

Lawrence Matthews


“In terms of 2023, this has been the first full year after retiring the Don Lifted name and gearing up to move forward as myself Lawrence Matthews. At the end of 2022 I thought I had a really good idea of what that would look like but I had no idea how that very personal journey would reflect into how I presented myself artistically. I never stopped making music, it’s been a very prolific year in that way. It’s been a year of getting to know this me within public context. What’s the context for me and these stories? I didn’t do any shows but I rehearsed all year. I just fine tuned everything. Spent time exploring what do I want to do, how, when? A lot of little tests.

In 2024 I’m going to be very active. Active exercising all my new found understanding in myself and my craft. A long way to say a lot of music is coming.”

Supa Glock Bros

“2023 didn’t really begin for us as Supa Glock Bros until the top of September where we conceptualized and committed to the idea of making “Supa Glocktober” happen. The goal for us was to compound interest over time. The music, the storyboarding, and the planning part was easy money for us…but the real work began when it came time to shoot/edit the content and commit to the schedule. The process was mostly done in house between us 3 and we were not mad at the results and reception that we received in just 31 days, special thanks to fellow Memphian R.J. Powell (aka ibreathemusicallday on IG) for having shown both of our recent EPs love on his platform via his recommended list of releases, which helped boost our visibility to new fans organically.

The plan for us in 2024 is to continue where we left off in “Supa Glocktober” with consistent visual content for both EPs, new music, and seamless cross-promotion, connecting and expanding what we call the “SGU (Supa Glock Universe)” with our individual works as Spek Was Here, Dame Mufasa, & 91’ Co and, to quote Dame on our track “305 Jamaica House”, turn pennies into zeros.”

Uni’q

“2023 has been a ride. Thinking about all the things that I’ve done and accomplished from the end of December 2022 to now the end of December 2023 is wild. From performing with my friend Cameron Bethany, to performing and headlining for Noname, writing lullabies for a company with IMAKEMADBEATS, to going back and doing more stuff with the Grizzlies and writing a song for the Grizzlies mascot…I’m like dang! There has been so much this year.

Next year, I’m looking forward to new beginnings within myself. I’m looking to be more of an influence, not only in other people’s lives, but in my son’s life and in my life. Just continuing to be a strong, single mother. Shit gets hard, you know life be lifing, but it’s alright. You know it’s gonna be OK.

I’m looking forward to producing more. I’m looking forward to getting to work with other like-minded artists and producers and being able to collaborate with them. I’m planning on releasing my EP on May 1. It’s a project that I produced, I wrote, I arranged, I sang on, and I’m directing the visual that’s gonna come behind it (but I won’t talk too much about that because it’s still at the ground zero phase). It’s crazy because I’ve never recorded on my own stuff before. Like, this is the very first time that I’ve taken the time to actually record my own music that I produced. I’ve always felt better recording on other peoples tracks. I don’t know why…maybe the confidence in myself wasn’t there yet but that’s changed. Mad kind of pushed me to do it and I appreciate Mad for that. Mad pushes me to limits I never thought I could go to and when I finally cross that hurdle, I’m always like, “Wow that was easy. What was I waiting on?” I was pretty much just waiting on myself. That’s what this next coming year is gonna be about: not waiting anymore. I’m just gonna do it. I’m a doer. Period.”

AWFM

“I spent most of 2023 either touring and meeting new people around the country, or making new tracks, and specifically paying attention to the variety of different headspaces I’ve been in while creating. I think it’s easy to ignore what unique stuff you have on your mind in order to prioritize making stuff that feels interesting for everybody. In 2024 I plan to drop way more than 2023 with higher quantity and quality, but I feel like what I have to give and what I have to say will be a lot more “if you get it cool, if you don’t, I don’t care.” I don’t know how that will go.. but we will see.”

Talibah Safiya

 

“2023 was an incredible year for my career. It really helped me expand my idea of what’s possible. I had my first chance to get in the writers room and write for TV shows as well as other artists. One of my favorite things I did in 2023 was release my first live album, which was called Love Spells (Live). It was a really special offering to my audience.

Another amazing thing I did in 2023 was being able to write some music for HBO Max’s Rap Shit, which was such a cool experience to work with all these new artists I had never met before, and just have a bunch of fun with these folks.

In 2024, I’ll be releasing my project Black Magic, in collaboration with the University of Memphis, which I’m so excited about. I have some other secret things that I’m working on – including writing for more TV shows and some new music that I’ve been working on with Ari Morris.

So Black Magic is coming, and then new magic is coming. I’m so excited to continue to express music in these different genres that speak to my soul. And I’m so excited to see what other Memphis musicians are up to in 2024 as well.

Spek Was Here

“2023 for me was BUSY, as both a creative journey and a learning experience. It was my first year fully leaning into the role of leadership and everything that comes with it after having departed from Studio 88 a year prior, as well as my first year under a new moniker (f.k.a. Spekulate the Philosopher). I made a promise to myself to always remain a student of my craft and maintain creative flow by always being open and curious to new ideas and approaches to music, which yielded some great results for me in my production and audio engineering. My only regret from this year was that I didn’t get to release more of my own work aside from my 2-piece “Ruff Luv” back in February.

As a newborn leader, working with multiple personalities so closely day by day presented some personal challenges for me (as an introvert) but showed promise, because I believe wholeheartedly that the artists in my crew are some of the best artists I’ve ever worked with and they inspire me to learn more and do more to be better. My standouts this year were from: Ash Léon (co-founder of iNGud Co), Austin Crui$e, and MAFIA 9.

In 2024, I look forward to releasing more music as Spek Was Here (cause trust, I have plenty) and breaking new ground with my team at iNGud Co. through all forms of our art as a collective and individual artists; especially from Starbunny, TheGoddessie, & Rose A.”

Graham Winchester

 

“2023 was a year of musical-life highs and some personal lows. I lost my grandmother and one of my best friends, which made trying to celebrate the good times feel sort of juxtaposed and strange. Nevertheless, I’m happy I was able to achieve some major goals in 2023 and push the music forward. And thankfully, music is the best medicine anyways. I released my solo record “Nobody Waters the Flowers” this past year. I recorded and produced it in my home studio, Cheyenne Marrs heard it and hit me up, asking me to produce/record his debut solo album “Everybody Wants to Go Home.” It was an amazing process to get in the studio with him, and I’m super stoked that both of our records are now being picked up by Red Curtain Records, a new Memphis label being run through Memphis Magnetic Recording studio.

Recording myself and Cheyenne led to others asking me to record/produce tracks at the home studio, including Spacer, Magik Hours, Dandelion Williams, Screamer, Oakwalker, Jeff Hulett, Jacob Church, JD Westmoreland, Orion Overstreet, Frank McLallen, Eli Wilson, and more. Some of these recordings have been released, and some are upcoming in 2024! In September, I was able to tour Europe with my band Turnstyles (Seth Moody and I). On past Europe tours, I’ve been there supporting Jack Oblivian, but this was the first time to “fly solo” with a band of my own. It was an amazing experience; we made lots of new friends, and we are going to return in 2024. I was also able to start playing with hero Alicja Trout in her band Sweet Knives in 2023, and we embarked on a super fun Midwest tour in July.

All through 2023, I was able to continue my weekly SongSwap at DKDC featuring songwriters in the round, and we were able to keep 18 years of weekly gigs going with Devil Train at B-Side, every Thursday at 10PM. In other continuing annual traditions, we played DKDC Thanksgiving and Christmas night with The Sheiks and Jack Oblivian, and The MD’s (my Booker T and the MG’s tribute band) played the Booker T. Xmas album at Stax for the 8th year in a row. The Tennessee Screamers gigged all year long and did the annual Dolly Parton show at Wiseacre again (coming up yet again this January).

A few years ago I started a local record label called Blast Habit Records with Jared and Lori McStay. Jared also owned the record shop Shangri-La Records. Sadly, we lost Jared to cancer this year, and his passing has had a huge impact on both myself and the community. Shangri-La records remains in good hands as one of the greatest shops on the planet. Lori and I are going to continue Blast Habit, and plan to continue putting out vinyl for bands we love! So Gung Ho, a band I had with Jared, played its last show on my birthday back in April. I will miss playing with that group!

Moving into 2024, I want to make Jared proud. I want to go to OTHER people’s shows more, and celebrate the successes of our entire music scene like he did. I look forward to thr Europe return with Turnstyles, and I’m pumped to represent Memphis at Folk Alliance in Kansas City this February, performing as a solo artist. I’m going to keep producing and recording other people, and gonna keep having songwriting sessions with friends. Also, this year I’m debuting my country band The Silver Broncos, playing some of my original music as well as songs by all the country greats (as if I needed another band). I’m stoked to play more shows with Coco & the Hitmen, a punk band fronted by my friend Coco Moody who beat cancer last year. She’s back with bells on. Overall, I just want to enjoy every moment with my friends and bandmates in 2024. Soak it all up and be thankful.”

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