If you’ve ever purchased a record made by a DFW native, chances are producer Jason Burt’s name will appear in the liner notes. He’s been involved in producing records like The Texas Gentlemen, Sarah Jaffe and Jake Quillin, to name a few, and even worked on the unique collaboration between Leon Bridges and music theory idol John Mayer.
At the dawn of a new technological frontier, Burt began making electronic music under the name Electropunk. He is now launching a new label called DROWZY and releasing an album of the same name, but there is more to it. Burt looks into the future of record releases and brand management as he enters the Metaverse and seeks to incorporate blockchain and cryptocurrency technology into his releases. Do you know what that means? NFT.
If you are unfamiliar with NFTs even after Pete Davidson explains them in a SNL sketch, okay. Burt is also aware that many people are still new to this field, but he is convinced that this is only temporary. While the idea may seem radical at the moment, Burt is quick to point out that in technology, ideas become de-radicalized over time.
“If you say ‘NFT’ to someone, then you have to explain what it is,” Burt says. “Just like the internet in the 90s or touchscreen phones in the 2000s. Nobody figured out why you didn’t just send a fax when the email came in. People with Blackberries didn’t want to give up the buttons of their phones, and now Blackberry is bankrupt.
Plan an ambitious rollout starting with the first single from sleepy titled “Young & Rich” (available now), the centerpiece of Burt’s Metaverse is an NFT that members of the public can purchase to actually invest in the sleepy tag with a bunch of benefits, or as Burt calls it, utility.
“Something with no use is like a digital photo you buy for $10,000 and then it just sits in your MetaMask [digital wallet] and does nothing for you except for resale value,” he says. “Utility is something that continually does something for the buyer.
Burt first got into crypto during lockdown by a simple twist of fate.
“My friend 53AN DO3 [pronounced ‘Sean Doe’] I basically lived with me during COVID when New York shut down, and he introduced me to crypto,” Burt says. “As everything got bigger, he was like, ‘If you don’t no NFT, you’re an idiot”. I’m a big believer in utility. I don’t believe in selling art for a reason to pump and dump. I believe in buying art that actually serves you. Once he showed me how the NFT world could serve my fans in massive ways beyond what the “real world” can do, I was immediately on board.
NFTs are usually talked about in the form of “digital art,” but Burt took a different route: His first big step into the NFT world was to sell 10% of his entire label to the public.
“People who buy the first 10 NFTs I release at .5 Ethereum, which is around $1500, maybe a little less, they will get 1% of everything I sell in the metaverse plus every song I release from ‘ here, and first chance at all my products and also VIP access to every party I throw and every gig I have,” he says. “So basically if you buy me that first NFT, you will be able to go to all of my shows for the rest of my life. In four or five years, as my career develops, these people will be able to go anywhere in the world and participate in my shows.
Given Burt’s upward trajectory on the music scene over the past few years, this certainly seems like an innovative idea, if not overly ambitious. The perfect way, according to Burt, to enter the next phase of his career while helping usher in a new phase in music and artist-audience dynamics.
“It diversifies the options of how people want to be able to support me,” he says. “I will be able to drop off my new song and people can listen to it and find out if it’s something they want to pursue with me supporting something that goes beyond just paying 99 cents for a song on iTunes and call a day.
“I think in this world, the way everything is, I think people are interested in supporting more momentum than just reposting on Instagram. They want to be part of something exclusive, of amazing and energetic.”
Burt’s enthusiasm for discussing his ideas is fluorescent, if not a little radioactive.
“What will eventually come out is this ability to have really strong contracts that are backed by blockchain, which is the most powerful and tamper-proof thing that we have as an ethic in the world right now,” he continues. “We’re going to use it for contracting, and what better way for me to come in then with a massive contract. Basically, I’m giving away 10% of my label to anyone willing to pay half an Ethereum. I’m giving away 10% of my earnings forever to those 10 people who are excited about the idea and willing to pull the trigger on what can be a great investment – on top of serving a public service.
“I’ve been caught doing country records, Leon, John Mayer…but in many ways, I’m super excited to release something that’s mine. I’m in charge of the production, creating something something I’m super proud of.” –Jason Burt aka Electrophunck
While Burt cut his teeth in the same North Texas music scene that spawned roots rock bands such as Midlake and Jonathan Tyler, Electrophunck is genre omnivorous, using eponymous genres as a springboard.
“It’s the first time I’ve written electronic music solo,” he says. “I’ve been doing it for 5-10 years, and I’ve been overtaken by country records, Leon, John Mayer, but in a lot of ways I’m super excited to release something that’s mine. This is me at the production reins, creating something that I’m super proud of. In the last three years I started DJing full time and that really pushed me into dance music. I’ve always loved the stuff bass and drum-based funky, and I’ve brought that to more organic artists – that’s my calling card – but it feels good to solidify that and double down on something that’s actually Electrophunk.”
Aside from his own musical concoctions, Burt is certainly not alone on the journey. The album is packed with collaborators, most of whom he has worked with in some capacity before. Collaborators include Keite Young of Medicine Man Revival (Burt’s former band), Noah Jackson, Spice and Roy Jr. of Sir Woman, keyboardist Jordache Grant, guitarist Nik Lee of The Texas Gentlemen and many more.
Burt says he is currently working on two albums: sleepywhich he describes as “dark” in both lyrics and sound, and CORRUGATED, which is a more upbeat “yellow and orange,” he says.
“A pool dance record and a 2 a.m. dance record in Brooklyn/Berlin,” Burt said of CORRUGATED. “A lot of artists have kind of multiple personalities, especially when I’m doing 15 different types of music, it’s nice to have a focal point, and sleepy that’s how I feel about my music right now. I’m a little tired, but in a good way — euphoric energy. CORRUGATED more like the energy of three martinis at the pool.
Burt says it might seem a little too much to take in at once, at least conceptually, which is part of why he’s dropping songs that will make up sleepy one every 45 days or so until early 2023. As big as the idea is, it doesn’t shy away from being too ambitious.
“I think a lot of artists are self-deprecating,” he says. “Sometimes we like our material, sometimes we don’t, but the difference between someone who is successful and someone who is not successful is a track record. I wish when I was 18 I would have dreamed bigger and written bigger goals because as things get crossed out you start dreaming a little bit bigger.