Ed Balloon And Witch Prophet On Balloon’s New Concert Series With Avalanche Blockchain, Web3 And Sharing Their Art

Tomorrow night (February 23), Ed Balloon will be joined by JPEGMAFIA, Jeleel, Witch Prophet and CLIPPING at L.A.’s Belasco Theater for a free show kicking off the new quarterly Avalanche Park X Ed Balloon L.A. series.

The series was conceived by Balloon to showcase artists not represented enough or given enough credit in the Web3 space he explained when I spoke with him and Prophet together on a recent Zoom chat.

Parts of the event are very 2023, with every attendee getting, according to a press release, “A free ‘Avalanche Park’ NFT upon arrival, which will unlock unique experiences at the concert including a raffle via MynaSwap for a pair of rare shoes from Cool Kicks.”

However, despite the presence of Avalanche blockchain and the NFT component, at its core, the goal of the show remains the same as a jazz show a hundred years earlier according to Balloon. The point of the show is to share their art and get it out to as many people as possible.

Steve Baltin: People think it’s such a trivial thing to talk about the weather, but it definitely influences music as well. I’m a big believer that environment affects your writing. I’ve talked about this with the band HIM, out of Finland. They came to L.A. to record and all of a sudden you’re writing Beach Boy songs, after writing dark goth metal songs about the Apocalypse.

Ed Balloon: I think that is actually true. I think there is something about being on the West Side, for some reason. L.A.’s is its own world. I totally see what you’re saying, ’cause that’s actually really true. People move to L.A., then they start making way happier music. It doesn’t always have to be that, but it does tend to be that sometimes.

Baltin: So, for you then, coming from Boston to L.A., did you all of a sudden start writing surfing songs?

Balloon: Actually, now that I think of it, probably. I don’t think any of those songs came out though. But I think I was experimenting with different type of things that we haven’t done before. But, yeah, I got out of that type of thought process real quick, ’cause there was other things that I was going through in L.A. that really did not have me focus on the sunshine and things. The sun wasn’t shining for me when I first got to L.A. It was very difficult and dark and very like, “Oh my gosh, this is what the industry’s like, oh my God, this is what this world is like.” And I think for me, being as honest and truthful in my music, that was kind of where I was like, “Okay, I need to be, I need to talk about these things.”

Baltin: Witch Prophet, when you come out this week, do you anticipate coming to L.A. from Toronto and doing sunny songs?

Witch Prophet: Yeah, I tend to write in any scenario that I’m in and sunlight does make me write. I usually go to Jamaica once or twice a year with my wife, who’s also my producer. And we usually do music there all the time, we wrote the majority of my last album there. So I figure coming to L.A. I’ll probably write a couple of hooks that will be used for my next upcoming project.

Baltin: Take me through the show Thursday and what you guys are looking to do with it.

Balloon: So my whole goal with this it is a way of me to be able to differentiate the two kind of worlds [Web 2 and Web 3] and how I came up with making this or having this event happen. And really, I think just being in the space of like NFTs or Digital Collectibles, an artist when it comes to this space, this ecosystem, we are legit doing things. It’s almost like we’re rebelling against the industry in a sense. We’re rebelling against things that we weren’t able to do or have ownership with, or we’re told, “Hey, you can’t do this because that’s just not the standard.” And so when it came to making this event, I wanted to not only have talent that is like legit exposed to or is currently in the space that is, we call Web3 or this ecosystem that is like making digital collectibles, which is me and Witch Prophet. But I also wanted to get artists who are currently in the Web2 realm, like JPEGMAFIA, Clipping and Jeleel to not only bring this event together. But I think at the end of the day, what we’re both going for is culture, raw talent, artists that are not afraid to tell the truth and honestly going against industry norms. They’re like, “I don’t give a f**k. We’re gonna do this anyway.” And that’s how this lineup came up. But I also wanted to marry the two of like really having Web2 and Web3 meet each other, because as artists our goal is to really just get our art out there. And as an artist, I’ve curated this bill. I was like, “Okay, I feel like this, this talent here is necessary to showcase this ecosystem that we’re in. This is culture that needs to be in this space.”

Baltin: Tell me about the NFT component.

Balloon: So with this event, not only are we displaying talent, but we’re also having fans or supporters that want to attend this event to get an NFT. And I wanted that to be seamless because I didn’t want the tech to be something that was going to be too burdensome for people to really get what I want out of this. And that’s really more of a culture value, people going to an event and feeling like, “Wow, this is something that I’ve been missing, people just loving music for the sake of it.” And I wanted to really challenge the typical white narrative of like, “Oh, this is what needs to be, or this is the standard, or this is that.” And it’s also why I intentionally made sure I picked a lineup that was very diverse and mostly black and to have it close out black history month. All these things I did with the intention of making sure that I was giving a platform. Even though half of these artists don’t really need platforms per say, but I really just wanted to highlight the work they’re doing. And I feel like they don’t get as much credit as they deserve. And it’s because they’re probably not doing what is or deemed “mainstream” but they’re doing things that is so true to themselves and they’re still pushing boundaries and pushing boundaries for the culture and specifically black artists. And so I really wanted to push like all these people. I really wanted to push that and say, “Hey, this is what is being done. And I had this opportunity to do it with the Blockchain of Avalanche I was like, “Okay, this is what I want to do.” And so I had this intention and I’m really happy and excited to see it come to fruition.

Baltin: Whether it’s the Web3 stuff or whatever it is, it still comes down to the same thing, which is like you said, showing off your art. But also more importantly, really showcasing artists and giving artists a chance who are not in the mainstream.

Balloon: Surprisingly enough, I found Web3 was where I could put more of trying to find people who I want to support my work and my art. It’s more intentional versus like doing this for the sake of an algorithm. And that was where I think a good amount of like me and Witch Prophet and other artists who are out here in the Web3 space with this movement came about. And I think it’s a really beautiful thing to see. I know there’s other noise and stuff when it comes to the Web3 space and it’s unfortunate to have that noise. But it’s also really dope to see artists empowering themselves and encouraging themselves and be able to have sustainable livings doing that from their work. And I think also in Web3, I’ve seen artists being able to help each other. And unfortunately when it comes to outside of this space, the industry is always like, “Okay it’s competition.” And it doesn’t always have to be that. And I think that’s also why this lineup came about. ‘Cause I’m like, these are people who are doing like music. But it’s legit like, “I’m doing this because I feel this way, I’m doing this because, hey, I need to get this out. This needs to be put out there.”

Baltin: Witch Prophet, talk about what it means to have someone put together a show like this that allows you to show off your music.

Prophet: I think that’s what the differences with Web3 is that people can actually feel that authenticity through the social media platform, they can feel it through the music. It’s like people want real, we want the truth, we want realness and the truth in everything, in your art, in music, in politics, in religion, whatever, anything, we want the truth. Right? So I’m very excited to perform on Thursday. This is gonna be my first show in L.A., so I’m very excited. And being on the same stage with so many fantastic artists is a bit intimidating, but also thrilling because it means that what I’m doing is right and that even though I’m not necessarily following the normal path, my music is still viewed as something that’s important and something that is moving the needle in the culture even if it’s ever so slightly. So I’m very grateful for that. I’m also really surprised that I got booked for this because I think I only met Ed in, at, in, where was that? In Austin, Texas when we did a show. Yeah, we did a show together and it was really great and I didn’t know that you even saw my performance.

Baltin: What’s the coolest thing that you can hear after the show from someone who sees it?

Balloon: I think for me it’s gonna be like, “Wow, that was a raw ass show.” I definitely put like my all in this lineup. So with Witch Prophet I feel like they’re going to be able to mold it into like, “Okay, this is what’s happening.” And then me coming on, and then you end with JPEG. Right? And so this whole thing for me was more of like building this experience and not just saying, “Okay, cool, you have a show” I think everyone is telling the story and they fit right in it. So I think at the end of the day, I just want people to say, “Yo, that was a dope experience. I don’t really know what it was, but it was something that was necessary and I want to go do something like that again.”

Prophet: Yeah. I also agree with what you said, and I’d also hope that people are like, “Wow, I really like all the new songs that you perform,” since I’m planning on performing some new unreleased songs. Actually one of the songs will be released on the same day as the event, but a new single. So hopefully people like that and actually reach out into the Web2 world and stream those tracks. It’s not necessary, but it would be cool. And then of course just people enjoying my sound and everything that happened that way. And hopefully people will learn more about NFTs and will walk away with a bit more knowledge and curiosity towards it.

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