Interview with Ryan Elder of Bring It Back Records / Elder Entertainment out of Midland, TX
: Let's take it 'back to the front' (ala Metallica style) where did you grow up & what are your first memories of 'music'?
: I'm from Midland, TX born and raised. I've moved around Texas a lot the last few years, but Midland is my hometown. I used to play sports back in the day. I played baseball, football, and basketball.... anyone from that time period knows about me playing sports. I think the younger cats only know me from the music scene, but I'm a big sports fan. My ultimate job would be to become a general manager for any one of the three major sports. My first memories from music come from our baseball trips from the all star teams and one of the dads put in a tape and it was Rob Base and DJ Eazy Rock "It Takes Two" and "Treat Me Right" by Chubb Rock. That was the early/late 80's. You had N.W.A. and Public Enemy doing their thing, really transcending hip hop at the time and making hip hop's presence felt. I think that's when it really hit me that I was a fan of hip hop and then I just started buying every tape I could get my hands on. That's when you actually wanted to go out and buy a whole record. That's back when they sold single tapes and artists were selling 500,000 copies of a single tape. The game has changed, just like Midland has changed. But I still love music and it's great that I'm doing something I love. Not too many people can say that.
: So that's When you first figured out you were really into the rap/hip-hop stuff? Who were some more of the first artists, albums, songs, etc which made you lean more so in that direction rather than towards rock, or country, or anything else?
: I was never a fan of country music. My family was definitely country inclined, but I would say I leaned towards rock first. I used to listen to Aerosmith, Van Halen, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Lynyrd Skynyrd and a few other rock groups. I started listening to rap when I was in 6th grade. That was around the time Jodeci came out with "Forever My Lady". I can remember bumping that album. The Ghetto Boys "Mind Playing Tricks On Me" was one of the first songs I knew word for word. "Quick Is The Name" by DJ Quick was an album I had in the 3 disc Awai Speaker System. The Old School Domino record was an album you must have had back in the day. I just loved the music. It was more about partying and getting chicks and being smooth. I remember banging Ice Cube's "Steady Mobbin" and the "Wicked" track all the time. When "The Chronic" by Doctor Dre came out, it was epic. It was something the game had never seen before, so it was funny to see all these white people jamming out to 'gangster rap'. Then I had all my rap albums that I still bump to this day like Spice 1's "AmeriKKKa's Nightmare", Too Short's "Get In Where You Fit In", and all of the Death Row albums, especially 'Murder Was The Case' soundtrack and Big Mike's "Something Serious". The biggest influence in my life as far as music goes was Tupac Shakur. He was ahead of his time. His music will go from one generation to the next like it just came out the day before. I think his struggle, his attitude, his music, and his life influenced me the most because I was a fan of his music, then when I got to know more about him and his life, I loved everything he stood for. I've got to work with Spice 1, Big Mike, Domino & Too Short and it's kind of surreal because I used to bump their music and now I'm on a first name basis with these guys. To me these guys laid the foundation for rap and there is just way too much garbage in the industry now days. I wish it was like it used to be and not so corny now. Everybody wants to rap. Everyone wants to be a promoter. Everyone wants to be in the music business and that is very, very sad...
: Your bio says you've lived in Dallas, Houston & San Antonio. As I understand it you moved back to Midland at the end of 2009 & at that point started up Elder Entertainment
in December 2009. But the bio on Bring It Back Records
says it started in February of 2009. So can you give us a Little background on what started what and where and how it all came to be that you've gotten involved to this degree?
: I was working in the mortgage business and made a career change once the sub-prime market shrunk and I decided to go and work at a music studio in San Antonio. I started at the bottom of the food chain and worked my way up so to speak. I moved back to Midland after working in San Antonio for a year and worked to secure financial backing to get my label Bring It Back Records
off the ground. It's so funny now because so many people doubted me. They used to make fun of me. They thought I was a joke for trying to do music. I put every dime into my label from the beginning. I got top notch production and got features from well known artists and I didn't even have my own artists at the time. That was in Feb of 2009 and I found an artist that I thought would work and due to creative differences, I cut him from my label. I had some people introduce me to another artist who eventually did not pan out due to attitude issues and overall likeness from radio and distribution heads. So I went with Rawsome Russ
and we've been making history for West Texas ever since.
June 16th, 2012 at Summer Jam Midland, TX -Warning: Explicit Language.
started in December of '09. We did a show with Spice 1, Big Mike and Big Gemini and had some success. Then we did the first ever hip hop show at The Horse Shoe Arena in Midland, TX, their biggest hip hop show to my knowledge with Bobby Valentino and Lloyd. The funny thing is I never wanted to do shows. I had investors ask me to do the shows and I decided to give it a shot and while we have had success, My main focus now is getting my label to where it needs to be. Bring It Back Records
was always my first choice and the company I started first. Elder Entertainment
just kind of came about and even though Elder Entertainment
is more known at this time, you mark my words, the world will know Bring It Back Records
before it's all over with.
: Right on. So What parts (if any) of formerly being involved in the Real Estate business have translated into helping you navigate / negotiate your way through the music industry?
: Working in Real Estate before getting into the music business prepared me more than I would really know. Negotiating is key in both industries and you are always negotiating when it comes to music and Real Estate. I really enjoyed my time in Real Estate, but when the market fell out back in 07-08, I felt it was time to move on and pursue something I loved because I didn't want to look back and regret not at least trying the music business out. One thing I feel that I took from my experience in Real Estate was how to deal with people. In Real Estate, you are dealing with families and their number one investment which is their home. Some can take that lightly, but I always took it very seriously because those people depend on you. That would turn into repeat business, as well as referrals, which builds your reputation and that is key in both industries. It helps show credibility, which is lacking in the music business now a days. It's sad how some people glorify complete frauds and hate on the folks making the bigger, more prominent moves. Being consistent is one thing, but being consistently mediocre, well that has been the problem with West Texas for years. I'm going to change that.
: Well, the first release under Bring It Back Records
will be the compilation album "Recession Proof". This is an album I have been working on for a little over 3 years. Its kind of like my first child. I helped make it and now I'm seeing it grow into what it is. The compilation introduces Rawsome Russ
to the world and features Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Ludacris, Bun B
, Scarface, Pimp C, Slim Thug, Z-Ro, E-40, Raheem Devaughn, David Banner, Big K.R.I.T., Big Mike of the Ghetto Boys, The Outlawz, Fiend, Young Bleed, Spice 1, Big Gemini, and more..... It is a well rounded compilation/album. I also have other artists who deserve to be heard like Sin Sation, Bambu, Snype, and C.P. on "Recession Proof" that give the album a good blend of new voices. We already have a video with Bun B
out for the first single called "I'm Paid"
and we recently did a remix to the song and will be shooting more scenes with Bun
soon and expect a new video out soon for that. "Do You Believe"
by David Banner and Big K.R.I.T. is the second single and its out now on Itunes. I'm very proud of what I put together because I put it together myself and it has turned out to be better than I expected. I'll have news on a distribution deal very soon. It will be the first of its kind for any West Texas Record Label.
We also are about 2 songs away from being done with Rawsome Russ
's solo album. I have a title, but I'm going to wait to say the name because too many people try and copy. Russ's album will be a classic, I can promise you that. We have N.W.I.
's solo album coming soon, as well as Geno Da Boss's solo project coming soon as well. We are constantly working on our projects and all will be out after we drop "Recession Proof" worldwide.
: Cool so what are your thoughts on the state of hip hop today both in general worldwide & as it relates to West Texas?
: I think that Hip Hop is in a very sad state. I think that there is too much garbage in Hip Hop. I think that there is a ravage decline in talent when it comes to putting out meaningful music. So many people want to rap now a days its retarded. That is the problem with Hip Hop. Everyone thinks they can do it. Everyone went from being fans and supporting good music to trying to make music and the overall state of Hip Hop has gotten critical. You have your Hip Hop Greats that you can still depend on, but there are very few new artists worth talking about. I think that artists and labels in general are getting too much credit for doing average songs and getting paid way more than their worth. I compare it to the 70's when NFL players were just as good or better than most players now a days, but had to work in the off season at a second job because they didn't make enough money playing football. They were underpaid. I feel like the newer artists are way over paid and have less talent than artists of my generation. It may sound like Im "hatin" to newer artists, but Im not at all. I respect talented, hungry artists. I don't respect artists, promoters, etc who are in music just to get in the club for free, get chicks, or basically just do this music thing to try and be cool and be like everyone else. The good thing is that most people who know music can sniff these wannabee's out right away.
Regarding the state of Hip Hop in West Texas, it is embarrassing. Too many people think they are artists, promoters, producers, etc and it really just makes the whole area look bad. Im not saying that because we are the only one's working with multi-platinum producers, multi-platinum artists, and overall do MAJOR things, but I say that because there is a lack of talent and professionalism involved with alot of folks in West Texas. You got Mini Mack and Snake Scagnetti holding down Odessa. You got Russ, N.W.I.
, Geno Da Boss, Sinsation
, Neeze, Shottie Man, That Boi G, Money Risk, Heata, and few others I work with holding down Midland. You got Diamond holding down the ladies. Other than that, it's really scarce on talent and quality. That is the reason no one has ever made it MAJOR. Im not just trying to represent my city, I want to represent my region. Ive been doing this music thing for 3 years and Ive accomplished more in that 3 year period than most will in their music career. That is one of the main reasons that promoters and artists that I don't work with or have been doing this longer than me (which is 99% of them) have negative things to say about me as an individual, but hey it comes with the territory. The reason that West Texas's Hip Hop state is terrible is because everyone hates on someone doing bigger things, lack of talent and professionalism, and the overall quality of music that has been made. Im not trying to talk down on the area I'm from, I'm just telling it like it is because no one else will. Id be embarrassed if I had been a record label in the game for 10 years and hadn't made a profit and gained the proper attention that my label deserves. Bring It Back Records
will put West Texas on the map. That is a promise.
: Solid. So The music industry has obviously changed a lot in the last couple of decades with people 'buying' less and just simply 'stealing' & some paying to 'download'. It's something everyone has to adjust to and deal with. I would imagine you're like me in that you are more into a physical product rather than a digital download. I enjoy adding a physical product to my personal archives. Do you miss the days of actually driving to the music store and taking a chance and buying random stuff?
: That is a great question. I miss the days of waiting for Best Buy to open on Tuesdays so I could go and get a new CD. That was when you wanted to go and buy a whole CD because artists put out better products. I think that they cared more about the art back in the day. Now I think they just put out material that is "good enough". I don't download music from iTunes. I still order CD's from amazon. I have a really dope collection of all the CD's that had an impact on Hip Hop and I find myself listening to them before I would listen to a newer artist. I find my opinion to be the same opinion of most others that know about Hip Hop. As far as "stealing" goes, I guess you can thank Sean Parker for that. There will always be people wanting free music, free tickets to shows, or free whatever. That's just the new generation of Hip Hop. As long as people have access to the Internet, people will be "stealing" music on a daily basis. That is why more than ever, with all the access to free music sites, artists have to make better music.
: Do you still have your cassette tapes and vinyl from back in the day?
: I only have a few cassette tapes. I still have "Get In Where You Fit In" by Too Short and "Above The Rim". As far as vinyl, I have a huge collection of vinyl. I used to DJ parties and a couple of clubs for a little bit, so I was ordering vinyl like crazy. I'm going to set up turn tables in my office one day soon.
: Just curious if you ever at any point pursued writing / rapping yourself or have you always been more geared towards the business side of things?
: I've always been geared towards the business side of music. I'm a fan of Hip Hop, a fan of music in general. I do co-production with a producer and we make some dope music. I'm anxious to get back in the studio and come up with some material. I have recorded only once. We did a remake to "Forever" by Drake, Kanye, Lil Wayne, and Eminem on the first Elder Entertainment
Mix-tape. We were in the studio and I had this verse in my head and I just jumped in the studio and knocked it in one take. The look on everyone's face in the studio at that time was Priceless.... Too many CEO's try to be rappers because no one will say anything to them about their rapping ability. How much credibility can you have as a CEO if your a rapper now a days?? How can potential artists that you want to sign take you serious if you are trying to be a rapper also?? These are things that the average music individuals do not think about, but is talked about often. If I'm anything, I'm a CEO of a "real" record label, which no one in West Texas history can say, I promote shows when I feel like it, and I love producing music and being the "Executive Producer".
: Right on, can you even imagine where all of this is going to be at in 10/20yrs? What do you think is next? That being for Bring It Back Records
, as well as the industry as a whole? I'd imagine eventually the digital downloads will just connect to peoples brains through a wireless connection...
: I remember running off my goals to people 3 years ago regarding the music scene and everyone would laugh. They would talk about me behind my back. They would try and influence others around me based off what they thought was going to happen. So my goals in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, I'm going to keep that to myself. I have a plan that has worked so far and one day the world will know Elder Entertainment
and Bring It Back Records
The music industry in a few years is going to be insane. I don't even want to dwell too much into that because it is depressing. You'll more than likely have it the same way where everyone is trying to do it, but only a few will really be "doing it".
As far as technology and how music is distributed... A prime example of would be the 2PAC Hologram. Look at what they did with that just a few weeks ago. Imagine who tries to top that. Wow.
: So you mentioned earlier the Rawsome Russ
video out there on youtube for "I'm Paid"
featuring Bun B
. & N.W.I.
(aka Nice Wit It
), very cool video by the way, I dig it. You also mentioned briefly ya'll are going to be shooting again some more footage for the remix of that song which is currently available on iTunes. Any chance either of the videos will be appearing on any music channels which cater to rap/hip-hop by chance?
: The video for "I'm Paid"
was shot a Rap A Lot Studios in Houston. It was a lot fun. Very personal to me because I respect J Prince and Rap A Lot. I respect Bun B
for being one of the Best Rappers of my generation and overall, it was a very humbling experience for me. It had historic value for West Texas because no one had made a move like that. The video that is out is to the original version to the song. We did a remix with new verses that is available on iTunes now and we are shooting more scenes soon with Bun
to this version and it is going to be ridiculous. We also have a video to a track off "The Take Over", the second mix-tape from Elder Entertainment
. We have more videos in the future coming up. To answer your question regarding any music channels and major media marketing, well you will have to tune in. If you know any one thing about me, know I don't do the small stuff, I only do it B.I.G.
(Official Video [original version] For "I'm Paid"
-Warning: Explicit Language)
: Yes, We will definitely have merchandise available to the public soon.
: Does Bring It Back Records
have a central website people can visit for all the up to date information on current and future developments?
: We will have our own website up soon and we continue to get further along with the process of getting our music out to the world.
: I heard ya mention you might be moving in the coming months. Is it true you'll be uprooting from Midessa and moving to a bigger city by 2013? Is that a strategic move or just a matter of circumstance?
: It is a matter of both. I've lived in Dallas, Houston, Denton, and San Antonio the last 15 years. I only recently moved back to Midland. While our economy is very good, the cost of living is not acceptable. As far as music goes, I like the big city affect because everyone is trying to work with each other. It's not like West Texas where everyone is trying to tear something down. So its more of a move for both, but a move is on the horizon.
: I also heard that Bring It Back Records
artists are going to be going on a concert tour in the near future. What are the details on that? When/Where can people catch a show?
: We have a tour coming up once our distribution deal is finalized as well as more shows that I will be announcing with some major artists very soon. Just stay tuned.
: Depends on my availability. I've been busy with so many projects, I haven't had the time. Bring It Back Radio
was great, but it was taking away from my family time. I can see it coming back one day soon though.