Students from the Detroit Institute of Music Education (DIME) Denver were left without the degrees and music education they were promised before the institute abruptly closed its doors last year, but they didn't lose everything. The private school, which had been accredited by Metropolitan State University, had organically formed a tightly knit community of budding local artists eager to make a living in the industry and see Denver's music scene thrive.
Enter Coastless Creatives, a musical collective started last February by a group of ex-DIME Denver students. This Saturday, August 21, the collective will host its first big show, at Your Mom's House, 608 East 13th Avenue, to show Denver what can happen when artists lift each other up.
One of the founders of Coastless Creatives, Alex Creighton, already knew in his junior year at DIME that he wanted to start a music collective. When he discovered DIME was shutting down because it wasn't financially lucrative enough for Metro, he decided to take that idea and run with it.
"So I've got a bunch of my homies that I went to DIME with, and I'm like, let's try and create a community and a collective that can provide opportunities for all of us to keep making music together," Creighton says. "And then to actually work toward supporting ourselves and making a living toward what we love to do."
Creighton was supposed to complete his senior year at DIME, but instead transferred to the jazz department at Metro, earning a degree in a music program much more traditional in approach than DIME's.
"At first we were just a collective; we weren't a business," Creighton says. "We kind of just did studio meetups and talked about ideas, but I started to really want to do shows and stuff." Just one small issue: Like many recent college graduates, Creighton needed a job, stat. So he got a job working at Stella's Coffee Haus on South Pearl Street. He asked management if he could play his playlist of local artists who are part of Coastless Creatives while working his shifts.
"I ask them that, and they're like, 'Well, we're actually trying to bring back live music. So if you're a musician, do you want to book live music for us?'" he recalls. Creighton's response: "Duh!"
He wrote out a contract so that Stella's could work with Coastless Creatives to book talent. Stella's pays Coastless, which is now an LLC, which then pays itself and the artists that it books with a booking fee. Coastless is responsible for booking Stella's live music every Saturday night, beginning at 8 p.m.
The driving motivation behind Coastless is to help local musicians as much as possible by saving them time and money so they can focus on creating music. Coastless promotes and curates each show, including making posters, creating visuals for shows, designing lighting, and recording video and audio of each musician's set for free. The result is a symbiotic cycle that Coastless has manufactured within the musical ecosystem: Get shows for artists, pay artists, promote artists and their shows, curate amazing shows, and send artists home with excellent recorded materials.
"I want to make it so that all the artist really has to do is show up and do their craft the best they can and go home and work on their songs, instead of go home and edit videos and have to work on other shit," Creighton says.
Coastless Creatives Presents: Coastless After Hours at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, August 21, at Your Mom's House, 608 East 13th Avenue. Artists include: Fun Machine, a jazz pop fusion band; Transiit, a hip-hop artist with jazz and funk ties; R&B performer Lily Nova; Call Your Mom; indie/alternative band Blankslate; and stripped-down R&B duo Dog Tags. General admission is $10 ($15 if purchased Saturday). For tickets, visit Your Mom's House online.