Artists Journalism

The Third Eye in DIY: Interview with Spenser Judd of Clear Vision Collective

WCW- Workingclasswhole

S- Spenser Judd

WCW: Who started CVC and when? 

S:  Back in 2018, Danny Loveless and I came up with the idea for CVC while we were at Desert Daze. Both of us were journalism majors at Poly at the time and the idea just kind of clicked while we were in that festival atmosphere. 

WCW: Not only does CVC cover news and events in DIY music, CVC also functions as a DIY label and disseminates underground music. Tell us what the label experience has been like and what challenges you’ve experienced as you’ve tried to establish yourselves?

S: CVC is basically a collective of independent artists, a multimedia outlet, and an event production company. It’s a lot to take in at times and even more difficult to explain to someone who isn’t really familiar with underground culture or the DIY mindset, so we’ve definitely had some struggles showing people that we’re all three in one. 

From the beginning, Danny and I started uploading music to Soundcloud and built a little community of artists who resonated with our mission statement. We’re all independent artists and CVC is kinda like a club or group of likeminded creatives who are open to experimenting and collaborating.

There’s so much music out there and streaming sites make it easier than ever to find new music, so it’s been hard rising above the constant flow of sounds. Streaming has been the main struggle as a label for sure. Spotify is kind of dominating the industry and we haven’t really ventured into that territory yet as a collective. 

Soundcloud is our main platform and it’s been an amazing place to meet fellow artists and gain a following, but the audience doesn’t seem to be as active anymore since Spotify gained popularity. 

WCW: How has CVC distributed and produced music as a label?

S: Over the past year or so, we’ve formed an online collective of musicians on Soundcloud. We all collaborate using a Discord channel and distribute mixtapes and singles on platforms like Soundcloud and Bandcamp. After releasing a few projects online, we all put some personal funds together to start doing physical releases. 

We all know that vinyl is making a comeback, but we decided to invest in cassettes. So far, we’ve been able to release two physical cassette compilations; “Tales from the Trip” and “Clear Fortune”, but we’re in the process of having the capacity to bust out smaller runs for any underground artists who’d be interested. We have all the equipment to start dubbing our own tapes, so some exclusive releases can definitely be expected in the future. 

WCW: In terms of music, CVC seems to have made a niche for itself in the realm of underground/DIY hip-hop. Has CVC been able to make many enroads into the Central Coast’s underground hip-hop scene or have there been challenges to this?

S: Yeah, Danny and I were involved in MPU during our time at Cal Poly, so we’ve loosely been involved in the local hip hop community even before CVC started up. 

We’ve worked alongside local acts like MC Massini, CosmicPrank and Kregness and we were also able to throw a local show at the Chlorophyll Cave back in 2019, but other than that we haven’t really been able to experience much of the local scene since COVID started up. 

WCW: Stylistically, CVC seems to have a penchant for lo-fi and psychedelic hip-hop with artists like SpaceyY, King GFOD, and DigiDara. Was this direction inspired at all by famed indie/hip-hop label, Stones Throw Records? If not what labels or groups inspired the creative direction of CVC?

S: Oh yeah Stones Throw definitely had a heavy influence on Danny’s music. That label’s a creative powerhouse. King GFOD and I grew up together in Oxnard, immersed in the Nardcore scene during highschool. We got that full blown DIY experience since I was in a punk band at that time too. On the other hand I’d grown up off bands like Beck, the Flaming Lips, and Modest Mouse, so I feel like I’ve always had a soft spot for psychedelic sounds and strange lyrics. 

Overall, I think the main catalyst for CVC artists leaning toward lo-fi or psychedelic hip hop was Flatbush Zombies and The Underachievers. That whole Beast Coast scene really opened our minds in highschool, influencing me and my friends to freestyle and dream big. Danny and I bonded overall our mutual love for that scene during Desert Daze 2018, so from the get go I think we kind of knew that was the direction we wanted to take our music with CVC. 

WCW: According to its website, CVC also organizes and hosts live DIY events. How have you guys handled this aspect of CVC’s activities given COVID-19 putting a halt to almost all live DIY music events? Any online streamed events?

S: Yeah it’s been wild not being able to actually throw in person events in over a year. We’ve actually gone down to LA to document/cover underground punk rap shows for our Youtube channel, but we haven’t set up any of our own shows since 2019. A few of our artists aren’t really interested in doing any livestream events, so we haven’t set any of those up yet but we’re looking to do something soon. 

I was invited to do a livestream event on Valentine’s Day last weekend and I turned my set into a CVC showcase where artists like King GFOD, Clout God and Buxx Bandocoot got to perform a few songs. We just uploaded the full set to our Youtube channel this week. 

WCW: With being open to all forms of creative DIY collaboration, what are other kinds of artists and musicians CVC has collaborated with and/or featured?

S: Yeah we’re all about collaboration over competition. As journalists, we’ve been able to collaborate with some LA photographers and journalists like Shitshow Dave and Juan Perez. I’ve also been able to meet Joel Gion, Ty Segall, Toro Y Moi, and Anderson Paak. in my travels as a journalist. 

I’m super stoked CVC has led me to collaborate with Lil B the Based God and a slew of underground artists like IreQ Savage, Cobalt, and Jack Acid. 

WCW: What new releases and activities can we expect from CVC in the coming year?

S: We recently started up a new Youtube series called CVTV that acts like a late night show for underground culture. It’s full of skits, interviews, live sets, and massive amounts of eye candy. This will be our main focus this year since it lets us use our skills as journalists to create engaging content while supporting or showcasing other independent artists and musicians.

Since we got our hands on that new equipment for cassettes, we’ll be doing limited physical releases for sure. CVC artists are always busting out new tunes or projects, so people can definitely look forward to some new material from SpaceyY, King GFOD, and Sadboy John as well as some collective mixtapes or cyphers.  

WCW: Anything else you would like to add?

S: Feel free to hit us up if you’re interested in what we’re doing locally and at large. All types of creatives are welcome. We’re always up to collaborate and make something happen. 

Also don’t hesitate to reach out if you or someone you know wants to be featured on an episode on CVTV. Submissions are open 🙂

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