At This years Norman Music Festival, we had the chance to meet up with local musicians Danny Davis and Wil Norton to discuss their newest venture- Cowboy 2.0.
Cowboy 2.0 is an OKC-based pop record label.
Danny Davis, 29, works on software for airplanes
And Wil Norton, 31, is in his last semester of Law School at OU.
Both of them write and perform with the band Husbands, and both recently founded Cowboy 2.0.
What made you decide to create Cowboy 2.0, and what were some of your inspirations behind it?
D: Basically, we're trying play a part in cultivating a scene in OKC that aligns with the pop-centered kind of music that we like. I sort of look at a small independent record label as a big, collaborative art project. It's cool for a band to make a record and put it out, but it's even cooler when it's put out alongside a bunch of other aesthetically similar bands, made up of your friends or from your city, as part of a larger thing. Something about having your music sitting alongside like-minded artists feels good and affirming in this warm happy family kind of way.
One of the more romantic ideals of small local labels is that they can act as historical document of a music scene. One inspiration was Blake Lusk and the Tape Gun Records label he created, which is a great example of that. If you want a taste of mostly Oklahoma based noise/experimental music from the mid to late 2010's, a lot of the best of it is on that Tape Gun bandcamp page. Ideally, we'd like to do something similar to that with indie-pop music.
As musicians yourselves, how has this project differed from recording your own music?
D: Wil and I have been collaborating together on various creative endeavors since early college days when we directed our fraternity's Spring Sing program in what was basically a Godzilla themed musical. So in many respects, it feels like business as usual. The most significant difference with Cowboy 2.0 is that it involves working with and for other artists, which is a rewarding experience for totally different reasons than creating something by yourself.
What inspired the name Cowboy 2.0?
W: We named the label after a lyric in one of our tracks, "Neuromancer." That song was based loosely on a 1984 sci-fi novel by William Gibson where the protagonists are these futuristic heroes who are some version of cyberspace cowboys. I think that kinda spoke to us - we started writing music as an online project and so much of our lives are sorta mediated through the internet anyway. Plus, it's fun to put a spin on the whole "cowboy" thing since we're sort of beholden to it living in Oklahoma.
As you’ve mostly featured local musicians, what about the OKC music scene made you want to record and showcase these artists on your label?
W: Danny and I have just been really inspired by this relatively new wave of artists, some young and some who have come together in new configurations, that give a new and exciting vibe in OKC music. We just want to support it however we can.
D: Some of our music-minded friends would often show us these great demos they were working on but kind of hibernating with, and Cowboy 2.0 was an excuse to share that music with other people.
Tell us a little bit more about your Content Farm volume series.
D: Content Farm is a monthly (sort of) compilation series featuring local artists writing and recording songs based on a theme. The themes are meant to make the volumes more cohesive, and also force some variety between the releases. Joe Cappa, an incredible Oklahoma artist currently living in Colorado, does all of the art for it. For us, it's first and foremost an excuse to collaborate and make something with artists we really like. It's cool because it gives people an outlet to write, record, and release a low stakes song in a short period of time, and when all of the songs are put together, it becomes something more substantial. Trey Millward (of Hypervigilance) mentioned to us that it's caused some people to produce and release music that they may not have produced or completed otherwise. Which is true, and it really feels great and humbling to have a bunch of bands and recording projects in this series who were willing to put their first publicly released song (Tokyo Swish, Marjoe, U.F.S, Dumbluck, etc.) on a Content Farm volume. We've seen a lot of groups making songs together in various formations, and that's really the whole spirit behind it. Also, Connor Schmigle said he and Don Eisenberg (of U.F.S.) are treating it like a monthly song-off, which is also awesome.
W: I think the format helps artists (including ourselves) have a quick tangible goal - write one song, for a specific deadline. Ideally, that helps artists do things they normally wouldn't try and be a little spontaneous or collaborative.
Where do you see Cowboy 2.0 evolving in the future? What are some things you’d like to implement?
D: We've talked about making more physical product releases, like vinyl and stuff like that. Eventually we'd like to do some full length releases with bands once we establish something more substantial to offer. We're still just getting our feet wet with the whole thing. Wil's talked about a song swap series where two groups write a song for each other, record, and release it. Content Farm Volumes will continue. The theme of Volume 4 is "Space Western" and Brent Hodge (Rose Glasses) did a New Age Country song about tight jeans that I think is one of the best tunes we've had so far. I think what can make Cowboy 2.0 special is continuing to create stuff in the healthy spirit of collaboration that we've had so far, so we'll see what comes from that.
W: yeah, I really want to release some vinyl. Maybe down the road we help bands get out of state a little too - some touring, some other things.
You can follow and keep up with Cowboy 2.0 on instagram at @cowboy2.oh.