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I feel like simplicity is being strived for in the mainstream," says Ronnie Weberg, "but we are seeing a progression into more intricate and intelligent music."
Weberg, who makes music under the name Unlimited Gravity, got his start producing hip-hop beats in high school. A shared interest in bass-driven music brought him together with Project Aspect's Jay Jaramillo and helped inspire what would eventually turn into the Mile High Sound Movement. After graduating, Weberg headed for the University of Sioux Falls in South Dakota, where he spent four years studying Western classical-music composition and conducting. Entering the program as a self-proclaimed "nerd on a computer who understood sound design," he learned how to transfer his musical visions — the sounds and structures of songs — onto paper. "It put me right where I wanted to be, artistically," he says.
Weberg's original tracks are intricate compositions that nod to his classical training. It's most noticeable in the conspicuous lack of the monotonous bass and repetition so prevalent in much of EDM these days. Working in Ableton Live allows him to delicately layer his samples and sounds, working each note down to the core of its meaning in the song and bringing them all together with the intention of striking a positive chord.
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"I try to keep an open mind when I produce and really just channel whatever I am feeling," he declares. "With remixes, I try to recompose the idea of the track while staying within the guidelines of the feeling. For my music, though, I am in Ronnie-land, just speaking my language."
Weberg's first show in Sioux Falls took place in his school's student union and was attended by a handful of students, some family and faculty members. Following that show, he brought Jaramillo out for an official MHSM show in a house that one of his buddies had moved out of. The crew, which sold wristbands at the door and managed to pack 150 people into the empty house, solidified its independent roots in Sioux Falls and hasn't stopped since.
When an opportunity to tour with the Polish Ambassador presented itself, Weberg jumped on it in lieu of finishing his degree."The TPA tour really put me in a good position all around the country," he says. "After that, I booked some festivals and a few markets I hadn't really played before."
Prior to the tour, Weberg's name had already been gaining recognition thanks to his participation in a Red Bull contest in which he remixed Awolnation's "Sail"; he'd also garnered success through his side project with ill-esha, Intelepaths, which was already signed with Polish Ambassador label Autonomous Music. "That contest was a major catalyst for me," he says, "but the whole process was a challenge, between being grateful for the exposure and experience and being hurt that they didn't want to give anything back to me."
Weberg, who took second place, didn't win the $1,000 prize, but he did get a release on Red Bull Records, and the remix has since been used in commercials and various Red Bull television spots. When he entered the contest, he signed his rights to the remix over to the company, which allowed them to use it however they chose without having to pay royalties. "Thankfully," Weberg says, "I have a loyal Internet following that blasts my name whenever they see it."
It's working: The momentum hasn't stopped. Touring with the Polish Ambassador put him in a position to follow up with a Phutureprimitive tour, in addition to his own, 32-stop nationwide solo tour. Staying "relentlessly positive" (his words), Weberg is now in a perfect place to grow as an artist. And as he finishes up his current cross-country trek with Jaramillo — the two collaborate as Unlimited Aspect — that commitment to positivity remains intact. "Although writer's block is a very real thing," he says, "the only time my inspiration slows down is when I get in a pattern."
Still, going from bedroom producer to full-time artist making money is no easy task. "Nowadays, if someone hears a song online, there are infinite ways they can acquire it for free," he says. "I am just grateful for any money I can get from selling music."
With album releases through Sound Tribe Sector 9's 1320 Records label, Made in Glitch, and Prime Dub, Weberg is seeing his music reach more and more people. For label releases, though, the pay scales change depending on distribution and reach. For some, the split is an equal 50/50, with a portion going to distributors responsible for getting music placed with iTunes, Beatport and other outlets. For the smaller labels, the take for the artist is higher, but the reach may not be as great.
"For a label like 1320, it's not hard to reach the loyal fans," he notes. "They are very family-based, and they really take care of their people."
Likewise, Weberg takes care of his fans, dropping free albums and mixes on Soundcloud in between label releases, which keeps the fans enthralled and engaged in his music. He's currently contemplating how his next release will be issued, whether as a free download or for sale via the "pay what you want" model that has worked so well for other artists. "It's an inconsistent income," he says. "There are times when I'm comfortable, and other times where I'm really grateful for my friends who help me and can take care of me."