THE CULTURAL REST 

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What is the Cultural Reset?

 'The Cultural Reset (TCR)' is an organization that seeks to uplift the voices, artistic expression, and industry experiences of POC, LGBTQ+, and disabled artists navigating the music industry. Through conducting intimate, informational interviews with talent and publishing written reviews of album releases, TCR hopes to embolden underrepresented creatives and industry professionals to make a space for themselves in the music industry. 

 Nick is an "International Business" and "Business Entertainment" alum of The American University. Having worked and interned for prestigious broadcasts such as 'CBS News', 'The Tamron Hall Show' and 'The Daily Show with Trevor Noah'—and as a singer and performer himself—Nick is a passionate advocate for cultural and ethnic diversity in all facets of the entertainment industry. He hopes to use 'The Cultural Reset' to bridge the diversity gap in music through creating a platform where innovative creatives of color and LGBTQ+ identities are uplifted.

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What inspired you to create TCR? As a singer and performer yourself did you face discrimination while navigating and being represented in the music/ entertainment industry?

 

The creation of TCR was inspired primarily by the political “awakening” our society saw in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. At that time it was clear that there was a paradigm shift in terms of how the world was thinking about the meaning of inclusion and safe spaces when it came to marginalized communities. As a black male myself, I was, of course, already acutely aware of the importance of such things—however, I asked myself: “What is the best way for me to make a tangible impact?”. I thought about specific industries in which exclusion based on race, sexual/gender identity, able-bodiedness, and cultural-difference were the norm and realized that in all the years American society had engaged in its surface-level discourse around ‘diversity and inclusion’, one industry in particular had failed to make any substantial changes to the way it functions: the music industry. As a singer and performer myself, I had witnessed (gratefully never experienced personally) instances of discrimination against artists based on unchangeable attributes. Likewise, I became aware of the non-inclusive and restrictive ways in which the industry packages and markets artists to audiences based exclusively on their identities. It’s wrong and luckily we are doing something about it with The Cultural Reset.

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The pandemic has brought forth a lot of change and awareness to so many issues. Is there a particular issue/movement you feel has taken the correct steps forward? How can we keep this movement going? 

 

Genre-bending! I’ll explain. The music industry tends to find ways to keep its artists in creative boxes that coincide with their expressed identities. For example, the R&B, Hip-Hop, and—though recently dissolved—Urban categories you see at prominent award shows and on streaming services, are traditionally associated with black creators. History will show that when a black creator creates a body of work that is outside of these genre categories (which black creators do and have done ALL the time), they receive little recognition by music institutions, or worse, are thrown into those same categories of music—in which they definitely don’t fit. I believe that both the pandemic and the charged events of 2020 have led to more artists having time to truly experiment with their sound and all that they can be creatively. In addition, those events have also led to institutions slowly opening up to recognizing those unique creations for what they are. There are so many artists now that don’t fit into the traditional creative box the industry has put them in, and now they are thriving. 

 

We here at TCR are actually planning our own TCR Awards Show that seeks to both recognize the culturally resetting artists that defy conventions and publicly do away with the restrictiveness of genre-based/gender-based/race-based categories. We are completely changing the way these shows are done and hope to show that world that creativity and the recognition of creativity can exist and thrive without these arbitrary boundaries.

Nick Lee (He/Him)
Creator/ Editor-In-Chief.

Some of your previous work includes a background in film/ television. Did any of that experience help or influence you in creating/ building the The Cultural Reset we see today?

 

Absolutely! My time at places like The Daily Show, CBS News, and The Tamron Hall Show taught me so much about the importance of stories, how we tell them, and the power they have to change thought. What I learned there really helped me with the structure of TCR as it is today. Our main focus is to put the power back into the hands of artists by showcasing both their talent and their journeys through the industry with our Artist Interview Series. Each week we sit down with an artist to discuss their work and to give them a space to discuss their experiences, concerns, and hopes for the future of the music industry as creatives themselves. Their stories have been integral in constructing an incredible community of those 50+ artists that we have featured on this platform who want to drive change and ‘reset’ the industry. 


My time on the television and film side of entertainment also taught me the value of connections. As TCR has grown and evolved, we are beginning to place an emphasis on finding ways to connect creatives to creatives and creatives to music professionals. Now that we have so many artists in our roster, we have the power and ability to connect them to like-minded music business professionals they can work with. By doing so, we will definitely be able to start taking a more hands-on approach to furthering our mission and this quest for change.

TCR celebrates often underrepresented creatives. What is one way you believe everyone can help uplift and support BIPOC and LGBTQ+ identities? 

 

Great question! I’d also like to add disabled communities to my answer, since we as a platform are in the process of expanding our mission focus to include creative voices from the disabled community. I believe that there are two ways to do this—one intangible and one tangible. On the intangible end, I think a great first step is being open and receptive to learning and, more importantly, self educating, about communities, perspectives, and life experiences other than your own. This allows you to shift your mind, which in turn can change the way that you interact with people outside of your own community. On the tangible end, I would encourage people to take action. If you see a struggling Black or Asian creative or  business, then you go and take your money and support them. If you are in a position of power and have the opportunity to give valuable access to a qualified LGBTQ+ or disable candidate, then do so. To be an ally, you must be able to master the intangible and the tangible. In doing so, I believe that is how you uplift these communities.

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Shannon Ervin (She/Her) Director

As the Director can you tell us about your role at TCR, and why you joined this organization?

 

As the Director I have the opportunity and responsibility to lead our team of 50 volunteers. Each individual is differently talented and I seek to find every opportunity for our team to utilize their unique skills and knowledge to further our mission. I love to hear new creative ways to uplift the voices of POC and/or LGBTQ+ creatives. I coordinate educational opportunities and collaborations with individuals and organizations. A highlight of my role is interviewing the artists and learning about their experiences in the music industry. As I learn more about these artists’ experiences I translate them into our team structure, content and conversations. 

 

I also have technical responsibilities that are not as much fun to talk about, but just as essential. (Quality control and Publishing)

 

I joined because I wanted to utilize my skills and leadership experience to further the diversity in the music industry. As I embarked on my queer journey I felt that music and music festivals guided and supported me. I love the community of people and feel loved back. Unfortunately, the industry side of the music community is less welcoming. In this role I hope to support the talent and creativity of those whose music has given me guidance. 

With having participated in physical activism like protests, rallies etc. have you noticed a stronger influence with activism through social media? Is there one over the other you feel leaves a stronger impact at this time? 

 

Both in person and digital activism have a time and a place. The beauty of activism through music is that it is both digital and physical. It is individual and communal. I have participated in activism in person, but I feel that my role with TCR is activism. I want to have a direct impact. While my voice is needed and valued at protests I feel that utilizing my skills and committing my time regularly is the best way to make change. 

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Shannon (Shay) is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a degree in sustainability. In the position of Director she hopes to use her voice to make space for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ people in the music industry. Shay stands for inclusivity and love. She believes that music has the power to bring people together for change, whether its for equality, justice, or to combat climate change. She believes that music opens peoples ears, heart and minds.  Now that the music industry is having to adjust there is no better place or time for TCR to reset the industry and put the power in the artist's hands. 

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Art and music in particular is a powerful outlet for many. Especially right now, who is an artist that you feel is using their platform and music to educate/uplift people?

 

There are so many artists such as WILLOW, SOPHIE, WRECKNO, Griz, The Weeknd, The Marias and (Nick would be sad if I didn't also mention) Beyonce. We have had the honor of interviewing so many of the innovators who are behind the cultural reset taking place. Please make sure to check out the artists and their stories. 

With TCR’s  album releases, interviews with artists, and overall promoting BIPOC and LGBTQ+ artists, what has been your favorite part of this experience so far? Do you have a particular part you find the most inspiring?

 

While the volunteers are constantly making me proud and inspired, the Artist Interviews are a gem and a treasure trove of knowledge for those navigating the music industry and those who are interested in the behind the scenes of project development. Personally I feel that I am befriending these artists so that one day we can all come together to celebrate our mutual love of music. I can not wait to attend and cover their live events;) We are also looking forward to bringing together this community in an Artist Appreciation Event (a new version of award shows..but without the politics and more celebration of the art.)

TCR celebrates often underrepresented creatives. What is one way you believe everyone can help uplift and support BIPOC and LGBTQ+ identities? 

 

Listen to their music! Follow them! Buy their music! Attend their concerts! Send them a DM! Connect and support:) 

 

Make sure to take the time and educate yourself on not only the artist themself, but also the team behind them. Do they walk the walk and talk the talk? 

To never miss TCR content don't forget to follow their socials!