Press Lives Matters : Wane Chism, Wiz Kid behind Popped Cherry + Flavors Creative
Written by Greg Harris
Traditions are great things to go by when you have a flourishing brand, and one of our leading interview series', "Press Lives Matters" has certainly set the tone when it comes to allowing different individuals in the industry to voice their thoughts on how they've gotten to be in the position where they need to be. In the process of doing all this, we've covered different individuals from various walks of life but we always have to bring things full circle and bringing it back to the Lone Star state.
In Texas, it's a large cast of creative individuals who are pushing the medium beyond the spirits of the Lone Star state. One of the pivotal people in the space who's pushing the beyond the boundaries of Austin, TX is Wane Chism, who's a marketing guru in his own right and going above the standard to deliver some of the best creative ideas for artists and brands. With his involvement with growing blog site, Popped Cherry, creative firm Flavors, and managing the likes of The Teeta and DONTHYPEME, he has a full plate on his table but he's maneuvering in a fashion where it seems somewhat effortless. While he's on a mission to change the perception on what it means to be a creative manager/businessman in Texas, Wane is crafting some modern ideas to break the mold in the nation's Live Music Capital.
In this Press Lives Matters interview, we had the opportunity to talk to Chism about his upbringing, being a creative in Texas, what he does to break the mold, and more.
Check out the interview below.
How’s Your Modern Life?
Man… relentless. Like you’re on a rollercoaster you can’t get off of. Preparing for this show at the end of August with KUTX, the NPR station in town. Never had to go through so much corporate red-tape in the past, it has been teaching me a lot. Between that and a few song/project releases we’ve just been running, no time to look back.
What are three things you have to do when you first wake up in the morning?
I still work a 9-5… so I roll out of bed after a few hours of sleep, check my emails. Usually checking Twitter on my way to work, being a part of the conversation is huge in today’s culture.. even if I’m not tweeting, staying active on the timeline can mean money or opportunities. Checking my artist’s Spotify stats every morning to see if the previous day’s marketing was working or not working, those tools are so valuable.
When it comes to your childhood, how you would describe it?
Suburbia, lower middle class, sheltered. I played sports my whole childhood, wanted to play in the NBA haha just didn’t grow tall enough. My parents split up when I was 13, so I had to learn a lot of shit on my own. But they were always encouraging and accepting. They tried their best.
Coming up in Texas and learning to be a creative, where did you find your sources of inspiration?
Music has always been the #1 inspiration. Everyone in my family was involved in music or musicians. I’m from the midwest originally, so midwest rap was everything to me. Lupe was huge then, Kanye was at the peak of his career, Common, Kid Cudi. Lil Wayne was everything though.
He’s always been an inspiration for work ethic. His peak was bigger then I think we’ve ever seen from a rapper. Texas taught me a whole other world of art/culture though, it’s just different here.. you have to have confidence here. That swag. It has taught me a lot about myself.
Who were some influential individuals that inspired you to follow your line of work?
Anyone in an industry role tbh, Rick Rubin, Andrew Barber, Scooter Braun, Lyor Cohen, Cortez Bryant, Kevin Liles, Pat Corcoran. I always wanted to be behind the scenes making hard decisions. Nowadays my peers influence me more than anybody. I always want to be the best, and luckily I have friends who are great in their own light and push me to be my best.
Being in your position, you play a lot of versatile roles that range from writing to doing public relations to throwing shows. What pushes towards fulfilling multiple roles and putting your spin on each facet?
I’d say my best skill is my ability to build sustainable relationships. I feel like knowing enough people who are in the mix allows me to wear a bunch of different hats and be an asset in any room. The nice thing about music and business is every avenue connects and can be capitalized on in a variety of ways. The goal is to be able to be that outlet that plugs the right people in.
Another interesting asset to your work is you’re in Austin, a region in Texas that’s known for it’s power to bring artists but not necessarily break them right away. How do you feel as if you can be able to break that mold even more in the nation’s “Live Music” capital?
That is a great way to summarize the way Austin has been viewed for years. This is something we’ve been working on since I moved here. Austin isn’t a big enough city to have most of the media platforms Dallas and Houston have spent decades building. I’m a believer in building a blueprint and creating an economic ecosystem for urban/rap artists to copy and benefit from.
Lately, we’ve seen local artists sell out venues, capitalize on huge social media growth, and tour the country. I think I’m able to help bridge the gap between the street and the meeting room. We’ve been able to encourage corporate sponsors to donate thousands of dollars towards urban art this year, venues to be more open to rap shows outside of SXSW, and bringing a level of professionalism to how you should move, market, and master your music. Central Texas is flourishing.
Speaking of Austin’s music scene, you’ve been diving deep into it with your management of various artists in the area. How would describe the city’s sound at this moment and how it can flourish?
Austin has always been looking for its sound. At it’s heart, it’s always been more experimental than most. Artists who have been able to crossover rap into other more “white appealing” genres have found the most success historically.
But now you see artists like Quin NFN, The Teeta, and J Soulja have a lot of commercial success showing off creative ways to make more traditional Texas rap/trap music while bringing their own flavor to it. Artists just gotta do them, I think the “Austin sound” will take place once there are people making really influential music from here. It’ll happen.
Living in an age where anybody can be an entrepreneur, how do you feel like you set the tone with your career?
Consistency. From my output, to my growth, down to what I wear every time I go to a function. Throughout this whole process, I’ve learned so much about branding. I take it very seriously. I’m a fast mover, if I don’t have a project I’m working on I feel extremely lost. I think that resonates with other people in the industry because people are used to a lot of talk, who is the one backing it up ya know?
What have been some of the most challenging things you’ve encountered this year in your profession?
I have had plenty of ideas I’ve taken to brands and companies this year and have gotten told “no” a lot. It’s a gut check, it’s not because the idea is bad it’s just not the right time, or they aren’t able to see the bigger picture like I do. Teeta and I are big on goals, this year’s motto was to apply pressure on everybody and to raise the bar. Balancing that with trying to maintain as many relationships as possible just isn’t going to work sometimes. But that comes with this, just have to keep it moving.
"Austin has always been looking for its sound. At it’s heart, it’s always been more experimental than most. Artists who have been able to crossover rap into other more “white appealing” genres have found the most success historically.
But now you see artists like Quin NFN, The Teeta, and J Soulja have a lot of commercial success showing off creative ways to make more traditional Texas rap/trap music while bringing their own flavor to it. Artists just gotta do them, I think the “Austin sound” will take place once there are people making really influential music from here. It’ll happen."
What have been some of the most rewarding moments you’ve experienced this year in your profession?
Man… selling out my WANE’S WORLD SXSW Show. I’ve done 3 SXSW shows now and I finally sold one out. Was able to book Valee and getting to meet Andrew Barber in the process and chop it up. I look up to that man a lot.
Other than that, seeing Hype go on tour with Chris Brown and Jacquees this year and now go overseas, seeing Teeta grow as an artist and a person and drop his best project to date. My brother Taylor doing his first NY Fashion Show for the brand we started 2 years ago. People around me are winning every day, and to have a hand in it is the most rewarding thing ever.
Building an Agency and working with the NPR station in town to put rap music on a platform it has never been on. Now I got interviews coming out with Modern Life and The Austin Chronicle, life couldn’t be better.
What are three goals of yours you want to accomplish?
- I want to achieve more of a work/life balance, quit this 9-5 and go all in on everything we’ve been working on.
- I would love to get a major label job, I’ve achieved so much independently I know the sky is the limit with the resources of a major label.
- I would love to set up a charity or a non-profit to provide inner-city youth with instruments, studio time, and one on one mentorship with musicians. Music is definitely a gift I’d love to show kids how beneficial it can really be.
When it’s all said and done, how do you want to be remembered?
As the best to ever do it, for real. If they don’t remember us in 10-20 years as the people who really helped shift the industry, or provided opportunities for Austin to grow years after we’ve left, then I didn’t work hard enough. Music has allowed me to be part of something a lot bigger than me. I just want to see all my clients with money in their pockets and a shelf full of awards. If we got that, we good!