If you have ever purchased a record made by a DFW native, there’s a pretty solid chance producer Jason Burt’s name appears in the liner notes. He’s been involved with the production of records by the likes of The Texas Gentlemen, Sarah Jaffe and Jake Quillin, just to name a few, and even worked on the one-off collaboration between Leon Bridges and music theory heartthrob John Mayer.
On the cusp of a new technological frontier, Burt began making electronic music under the moniker Electrophunck. He’s now starting a new record label called DROWZY and releasing an album of the same name, but there’s more to it than that. Burt is looking into the future of record releases and brand management by entering the Metaverse and looking to incorporate blockchain and cryptocurrency technology in his releases. You know what that means? NFTs.
If you’re not familiar with NFTs even after Pete Davidson explain them in an SNL skit, it’s OK. Burt is also aware that many people are still new to this, but he’s confident it’s 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 anybody, you then have to explain what it is,” Burt says. “Just like the internet in the ’90s or touch screen phones in the 2000s”. No one understood why you wouldn’t just send a fax when email came around. People with Blackberries didn’t want to give up the buttons on their phones, and now Blackberry is out of business.”
Planning an ambitious rollout starting with the first single from DROWZY titled “Young & Rich,” (out now), the centerpiece of Burt’s Metaverse is an NFT which members of the public can purchase to actually invest in the DROWZY label with a heap of benefits, or as Burt refers to it, utility.
“Something without utility is like a digital photo you buy for $10,000 dollars, then it just sits in your MetaMask [digital wallet] and does nothing for you except for resale value,” he says. “Utility is something that continuously does something for the buyer.”
Burt first got into crypto thing during lockdown though a simple twist of fate.
“My friend 53AN DO3 [pronounced ‘Sean Doe’] basically lived with me during COVID when New York shut down, and he got me into crypto,” Burt says. “As it all got bigger, he told me, ‘If you don’t do NFTs, you’re an idiot.’ I’m a big believer in utility. I don’t believe in selling art for a pump-and-dump reason. I believe in buying art that actually serves you. Once he showed me how the NFT world could serve my fans in a massive way beyond what the ‘real world’ can do, I was immediately on board.”
NFTs are generally talked about in the form of “digital art,” but Burt went a different route: His first big move into the NFT world involved selling 10% of his entire label to the public.
“The people who buy the first 10 NFTs that I release at .5 Ethereum, which is approximately $1500, maybe a little less, they will get 1% of everything I sell in the metaverse as well as every single song I release from here out , and first chance at all of my merch and also VIP access to every party I throw and every gig I have,” he says. “So basically, if you buy that first NFT from me, you’ll be able to go to all of my shows for the rest of my life. In four years or five years as my career continues to grow, those people will be able to go anywhere in the world and be able to get into my shows.”
Given Burt’s upward trajectory in the music scene in the last few years, it certainly seems like an innovative, if not overambitious idea. The perfect way, Burt says, to step into the next phase of his career while helping usher in a new phase of music and artist-audence dynamics.
“It diversifies the options of how people want to be able to support me,” he says. “I’ll be able to drop my new song and people will be able to listen to it and find out if it’s something they’re interested in pursuing with me by supporting something that’s larger than just paying 99 cents for a song off iTunes and calling it a day.
“I think in this world, the way that everything’s going, I think people are interested in supporting in a further dynamic than just re-posting on Instagram. They want to be a part of something that’s exclusive, amazing and energetic.”
The enthusiasm Burt radiates while discussing his ideas feels fluorescent, even a bit radioactive.
“What will eventually come out is this ability to have really strong contracts that are supported by the blockchain, which is the most powerful, un-hackable thing we own right now as an ethos in the world,” he continues. “We’re going to use it for contracting, and what better way for me to come in then with a massive contract. I’m basically giving away 10% of my label to anyone who’s willing to pay half of an Ethereum. I’m giving away 10% of my earnings forever for those 10 people who are excited about the idea and are willing to pull the trigger on what can be an awesome investment — as well as serving a utility.”
“I’ve been caught up doing country records, Leon, John Mayer … but in many ways I’m super excited to be releasing something that’s mine. It’s me at the reins of the production, creating something I’m super proud of.” —Jason Burt aka Electrophunck
While Burt cut his teeth in the same North Texas music scene that has yielded roots rock acts such as Midlake and Jonathan Tyler, Electrophunck is genre-omnivorous, using the eponymous genres as a springboard.
“This is my first solo release that I’ve done that’s electronic music,” he says. “I’ve been making it for 5-10 years, and I’ve been caught up doing country records, Leon, John Mayer, but in many ways I’m super excited to be releasing something that’s mine. It’s me at the reins of the production, creating something I’m super proud of. The last three years I’ve started DJing full time and that’s pushed me really into dance music. I’ve always liked funky bass-driven and drum-driven stuff, and I’ve taken that to more organic artists — that’s been my calling card — but it feels good to kind of 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 rife with collaborators, most of whom he has worked with before in some capacity. Collaborators include Keite Young from Medicine Man Revival (Burt’s former band), Noah Jackson, Spice and Roy Jr. from Sir Woman, keyboardist Jordache Grant, guitarist Nik Lee from The Texas Gentlemen and many others.
Burt says he’s actually working on two albums at the moment: DROWZYwhich he describes as “dark” lyrically and sonically, and WAVY, which is a more upbeat “yellow and orange,” he says.
“A pool party dance record and a 2 am Brooklyn/Berlin dance record,” Burt says of WAVY. “A lot of artists have sort of multiple personalities, especially when I make 15 different types of music, it’s nice to have a focal point, and DROWZY is how I feel about my music right now. I’m a little tired, but in a good way — euphoric energy. WAVY is more like three-martinis-at-the-pool energy.”
Burt says it may feel like a bit much to take in all at once, conceptually at least, which is partially why he’s dropping the songs that will make up DROWZY one every 45 days or so until the beginning of 2023. As big as the idea is, he has no qualms about being overambitious.
“I think a lot of artists are self-deprecating,” he says. “Sometimes we love our material, sometimes we don’t, but the difference between someone who succeeds and somebody who doesn’t is a road map. I wish when I was 18 I would have dreamt bigger and written down bigger goals, because as things get crossed out, you start to dream a little bit bigger.”