Tyler Osmond, known by the stage name Maker 828, was WMCN’s first performer for our “Live at Garth’s” in-studio live sessions in 2023, currently happening every Saturday at 9 AM on the website and the 91.7 call number. In conversation with staff member Ethan Johnson, Maker talks about differences between acoustic and electronic music-making, funny band names, and a collective distaste for Ronald Reagan.
Ethan: So, for those of you listening that might not be as familiar with Tyler as I am, they hail from North Carolina, specifically the Appalachian region. I was wondering, how much influence does the area have on your music?
Tyler: Oh my god, it was everything. Everything about my music comes from North Carolina. Picked up a guitar one day and started playing, and the entire afternoon passed <laugh>. And, and then it was, and then the sun went down and it was eight. And I had missed dinner, and I had been on the back porch playing guitar for like a solid five hours (laughs). Um, and I had played ukulele a little bit before, but the guitar felt so adult. Um, this is when I was 11 or 12, the guitar felt so much more full. It had that bass register that, um, wasn’t there in any other instrument that I had played. And it was kind of love at first sight. Um, how it influenced my electronic music is quite different. Um, so I’m very analog. Uh, I’ll do, I’ll mess around with the beepboop noises and all of that, but it’s usually all made from an analog synth or I will adjust any synthesizer that I find. I’ll put it through the filter of what my ear sounds good, which is what sounds good to my ear, which is usually just like, I don’t know, some sort of bit crusher and or high pass filter, which just, it, it, it makes the sound more acoustic. It makes it more crackly. Um, and that’s, that’s what I love. And that’s the influence of hailing from a green place. I think.
Ethan: So putting, you say, putting music through the filter of your ears first, who are you making music for first and foremost?
Tyler: Oh my God, me. Um, so the moment I, this was like in the middle of Covid, um, when I realized I hadn’t seen anyone for basically a year, um, in person, and I was still doing music, it was kind of keeping me alive. Um, and I realized then that I was not at all doing this for you guys. Sorry. Um, but I’m not, uh, I make music that I find to sound good (laughs). Um, it’s, it’s for my filter and whatever I can do to, to hone my filter by listening to a ton of music. I mean, Ethan knows this. We listen to music all the time. Um, Ethan just got a stereo for our dorm, and honestly, it has changed life much for the better because whenever we want to, we can just be playing music. Um, but yeah, every song I hear, I like to quote, uh, this was Stevie Wonder. “I sing one song and I hear 10,000 different songs back”. Um, I, I really, I really believe in that and I believe that, you know, every song I listen to kind of hones my ability as an artist or my ability as a listener first and foremost. So yeah.
Ethan: Is there a song that hones your abilities more than any other?
Tyler: Mm. Um, that’s tough. Uh, I’d say so. So I’ve got like two very different spheres of music. My, my acoustic sphere, I would say anything by like Andrew Bird. Um, I listened to a lot of Andrew Bird when I was little, and like Joni Mitchell and the Roaches and that acoustic type like Carol King-esque, uh, writing. But the words are much more esoteric, which I like. Um, it makes it more interesting in my ear. But my electronic side, um, is oof, it’s influenced heavily by Gorillaz and, um, a Tribe Called Quest. Honestly, I like the, I like the old style beats, um, Digable Planets. I can’t say that I’m as good as any of them, but, uh, it’s, it’s influenced. But a particular song, I’ll pick one for each. Um, “Let it Roll” by George Harrison for, um, for my acoustic and, Oh man, this is hard. Uh,
Ethan: Oh, I mean, it’s a hard question.
Tyler: “Empire Ants” off of the classic Gorillaz album, Plastic Beach.
Ethan: And what a beautiful pair of songs to take influence from. And I use the word beautiful, uh, as a person that likes using a range of adjectives to describe music. You know, I’ll, I’ll be talking about how, how the depth of music or how, how deep it is or how, how solid, how stainless, how (laughs) I’ll be using adjectives. Perfect. (laughs). So what adjective would you use to describe your own music?
Tyler: Oh, Which one? Which one? I have two musics.
Ethan: Well, your acoustic music,
Tyler: Dense, and I say dense because a lot goes into it. Um, a lot goes into both of my styles in very different ways, but a lot of myself, a lot of my heart, I guess, goes into writing the words that I sing in acoustic music. Not as much in electronic. I kind of just be saying anything in electronic music, (laughs).
Ethan: I think having, having listened to both your acoustic and your electronic music, I would describe your acoustic music as deeply green.
Tyler: Yeah. I was, I was gonna say green, but I was like, I’m not gonna do a color.
Ethan: And your electronic music as sharp, bright yellow.
Tyler: Ooh. Um, okay.
Ethan: Well, what adjective would you use for your electronic music?
Tyler: Hmm. Crunchy, um, crunch, salty, tasty,
Ethan: Sonic Trail Mix.
Tyler: (laughs). I like it. It does taste good in my music. Um,
Ethan: Sonic Trail Mix is a good name for a band or an album or a song, honestly. Sonic Trail Mix, right. That one though.
Tyler: I was out hanging out with, um, with, with Max (Levandoski) and Andrew (Banker) one night, and we were, and Omolade (Mebude) was there too. Um, and we were talking about band names and we settled on Tangerine Texture as the best band name ever.
Ethan: (laughs). That’s a good band name. I was looking through the, the CDs last night and I found a, a band called The Boo Radleys, which I just think is a very funny band name. Funniest band name that you can think of, of a band that already exists. What, what do you got?
Tyler: Um, what do I got? Funniest band name, oof. Thao and The Get Down Stay Down. Uh, I think it’s, I think it’s hilarious, but I also think it’s an incredible band name for what they do. Um, they do, they do crazy hard like riot grrrl punk rock, um, but it’s Thao and then the band is the Get Down, Stay Down, which is so good. (laughs). What about you?
Ethan: Ooh, the funniest band name? Uh, I, I might have to say, definitely, The Flaming Lips, I like the Flaming Lips is good. I like innuendo band names.
Tyler: Wet Leg.
Ethan: And the Flaming Lips definitely rocks. Very funny, very funny name. Uh, also Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. That’s just funny cuz they, they just took their names and they’re like, yep, that’s the band.
Tyler: They wrote some of the best music of all time and then they were like, what do we name our band? (laughs) Uh, Crosby Stills Nash and Young.
Ethan: Do you feel like your music is adherent to a certain era or do you think you would’ve liked performing in a different time period?
Tyler: Oh, okay. See, I would’ve liked to be doing what Damon Albarn was doing in the early nineties. Um, I wanted to be doing that before he was doing that, but I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing now if I didn’t have Damon Albarn to listen to. Damon Albarn is the Is Gorillaz, he’s the Gorillaz. Um, uh, yeah, I, I’d love to be doing that. Um, I’d love to honestly just be doing music in the early nineties, like before the industry stopped paying its artists and, um, before like really copyright laws were enforced with sampling, honestly, like anything like that. Um, like early Tribe time.
Ethan: I mean this is after all a Macalester based radio show, so our audience likes some leftist theory. Do you feel that the current state of the industry is harmful to artists?
Tyler: Oh my God, yes. I, I’m talking a lot, um, in my classes. It’s coming up a lot that I’m, um, kind of angry about how big the world is now. I think there’s just less to go around because there are more people trying to do it. I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault, really. I am angry about it though,actually. No, I do, I do think it’s, I think it’s, it’s capitalism’s fault, um, because trickle down economics doesn’t work. Also doesn’t work in the music industry. Also, you let nothing trickle down. As an artist, every time you stream one of my songs on Spotify, I get one 10th of a cent, One 10th of a cent, one 10th of a cent.
Ethan: The pennies aren’t even made from copper anymore.
Tyler: Stream my song 10 times and I get something that isn’t even copper. Uh, so like, I think you have to looping back to an earlier point, you have to be making art and doing music for yourself because you’re not, and, and unless you’re incredibly crazy lucky or incredibly crazy, I mean, honestly, luck, luck’s the thing. You can be super not that talented and get super lucky and make a ton of money because your song made it onto TikTok or something. Um, like I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna say names cause I actually don’t have names. I think everyone is talented. Um, but yeah, that’s the state of the industry. I’m kind of angry about it.
Ethan: Well, you know, as we see in the business, Ronald Reagan is dead.
Tyler: Ronald Reagan is dead.
Ethan: I won’t say any mean words towards Ronald Reagan right now.
Tyler: I will. Um, I hate you Ronald Reagan. I’m so happy you’re dead.
Ethan: I would use the word imbecile for the PG reading.
Tyler: What are we talking about? (laughs)
Ethan: Okay. This is a question that I’m gonna ask everybody I do in the interview in here with. We have this wonderful room, the wonderful studio space, probably my favorite room on the entire campus. It’s definitely my favorite. And it’s filled with graffiti from students and stickers, pictures, album covers, everything. What jumps out to you on this wall?
Tyler: The sheep.
Ethan: The sheep.
Tyler: Actually, it’s not even a sheep. It’s a llama. An alpaca, maybe.
Ethan: Funny you say that. Omolade and I searched this up last night. It is a sheep. It’s just a long sheep. The name of the album is something, something, sheep.
Tyler: Stop the War/Raw Sex Pure Energy is the name of that album, which is crazy.
Ethan: Would you say that that’s something you personally identify with? Stop the war. Raw sex, pure energy.
Tyler: Yeah. Mm-hmm. Always. Yep. Um, oh my God. Oh God. Okay. Next week I have a song to play on the radio show.
Ethan: So I want to wrap up the interviews so that we have time to do Tyler’s electronic set. Uh, I think the best way I could end with being in terms of your lyrics and what you’re writing, what are you trying to get at?
Tyler: What am I trying to get at? Do you mean in my electronic?
Ethan: I mean acoustic or electronic.
Tyler: Um, I’ve been trying to tell stories cause I really love telling stories. I also wrote a book for those of you who don’t know. Um, it’s not fully out yet, uh, but it is done and it’s around. I really like, I really like telling stories and I want to tell more stories through my music. Um, like in electronic music, it’s harder to. This album that I’m about to play y’all is my new album, which is releasing in a week. You guys are gonna hear it a week early. Um, but there’s no concrete plot to it. What I’m trying to do is I’m trying to capture a vibe. I’m trying to capture a concept and the name of this album is the Atari 2600. Um, because I like the Atari 2600. I think it’s a funny, funny little thing, funny little device. It’s the first video game system that was ever made. And I’m trying to catch an eighties vibe with the album.
Ethan: And for those of you that are now fans of Tyler Osmond, as we all should be, the Atari 2600 comes out next week, Friday.
Tyler: Next Friday at 12:00 AM at the end of the night. And we’ll be doing an early listening party here in the studio on our radio show, Sylvester Sunshine in the Wizard. Everyone is welcome for that. Everybody is welcome.