Dakota Student

Ojata Records hosts local musicians, artists

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Ojata Records hosts local musicians, artists

Dakota Student / Nicholas Nelson

Dakota Student / Nicholas Nelson

Dakota Student / Nicholas Nelson

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Crimson, local hip hop artist, performs at Ojata Records last Friday. Photo by Nick Nelson/Dakota Student.

By day, Ryan Tetzloff is a senior at UND, studying business, economics and Spanish. By night, he is Cold Sweat, one of the dedicated acts in Grand Forks’ rap music scene.

Last Friday, Tetzloff set the stage for a unique type of artistic collaboration. Ojata Records, owned by Jeremy Swisher, provided a venue for musicians and visual artists alike to showcase their work, combining live music with live art demonstrations. Those in attendance were given a taste of the area’s growing art scene.

“This is the place to play in Grand Forks,” Tetzloff said about Ojata Records. “I play at bars all the time, but there’s something about playing at these kinds of places, something different.”

Ojata Records moved in October from its former downtown storefront to its current location at the corner of South Washington Street and University Avenue. The record store itself is not quite up and running yet, but Swisher is hopeful for an official reopening on April 18, internationally known as Record Store Day.

Swisher hopes to host plenty of events there in the meantime.

“Jeremy does a lot for this scene in this city,” Tetzloff said. “He really wants to keep the music scene alive”

Tetzloff began writing his first lyrics as a sophomore at UND. After a year of keeping his newfound passion a secret, he played his first show as part of a benefit concert in his hometown of Minot, N.D. Following his debut, Tetzloff brought his act back to Grand Forks and began to build his rap career.

“I consider Grand Forks to be my stomping ground,” said Tetzloff. “This is where I came up; this is where I became Cold Sweat.”

Growing up listening to rap and hip hop, Tetzloff notes his biggest musical influences as underground, independent artists such as Minneapolis’s Atmosphere. Also drawing from old school hip-hop, Tetzloff aims to deviate from mainstream styles in his own music and focus on his own personal experiences in his lyrics.

“I like to make songs that anybody can relate to,” Tetzloff said. “A lot of hip hop artists try to follow this template, and they try to emulate what the radio is doing, what commercially successful artists are doing.”

“You can’t be the next Wiz Khalifa. You can’t be the next Kendrick Lamar,” Tetzloff said. “You have to be yourself; otherwise you’re just going to be another stepping stone.”

The performance portion of Friday evening showcased three other rappers from the area: Crimson, Real Truth and Baby Shel.

In addition to their own sets, the performers overlapped and joined in on each other’s stage time, demonstrating their freestyle abilities with entertaining back-and-forth. This aspect of the show gave the audience a taste of the sense of community within the local music scene.

“I would say that the music community is strong,” Tetzloff said. “We all support each other, we all spread the love; we all want the same thing.”

Tetzloff notes the variety of local acts he has performed alongside, ranging from other rappers to punk bands.

“The North Dakota scene is tight knit,” said Tetzloff, adding that the music scene is progressing, and will keep doing so. “The bands that come through, they get support no matter what.”

With this particular show, the support expanded to other forms of art.

“I needed to do something different,” Tetzloff said. “I’m trying to bring in multiple networks of other arts, of the (local) culture.”

Visual artists involved were Billy Rerick, Emma Katka and Matt “Schoolyard” Jones. In addition to showing and selling their artwork, each had a booth to themselves where they were giving live art demonstrations throughout the evening.

Local clothing brand Hatchet Apparel was also present with a merchandise table.

Billy Rerick, who credits Salvador Dali as his main artistic influence, is studying visual arts at UND. With a particular interest in the mind and subconscious, Rerick creates stunningly detailed surrealistic artworks that leave the mind wondering.

This was Rerick’s first time creating art in front of people.

“It gets into really personal kind of stuff, at least to me, not necessarily to the viewer,” Rerick said.

Despite the nerves, he was enthusiastic about the opportunity to showcase his work on this platform.

“I think it’s great to have this collective of artists that can help share an art scene,” he said. “It’s good that we’re binding together and creating this group.”

In addition to his personal artwork, Rerick is a frequent contributor to the Dakota Student (see page 2).

No stranger to the local art scene, Emma Katka felt in her element Friday night.

“I’ve never done a show like this before,” said Katka, who has had her work featured in several art galleries in the past. “It’s random, unconventional; I like it”

Katka spends a lot of time collaborating with other artists, and is accustomed to creating in a group setting. She adds that there is less pressure when a show features several artists, and she enjoys being in a setting where creativity can flow.

“It’s an opportunity to network with other people. I’m by no means a professional and neither are they,” Katka said. “We’re all kind of on the same level in our journey, and we can respect each other and encourage each other to chase after our passions.”

Friday’s show brought together a diverse group of artists, as well as a diverse group of attendees. Tetzloff hopes to keep teaming up with Swisher and Ojata to shed continuous light on local talent.

“You come to a place like this and there’s a community vibe,” said Tetzloff “This is the underground.”

Catch Cold Sweat’s next show on March 13 at El Roco, supporting Mobster Lobster. For updates on Ojata Records, visit its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/OjataRecords.

Serianna Henkel is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].

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Ojata Records hosts local musicians, artists