Columbia City Paper Interview w/ Preach Jacobs & Travis Bland
Reppin’ Columbia Ain’t Easy by Shelby Sachs
Preach Jacobs, a local musician and founder of both Mo’ Betta Soul and Sounds Familiar Records, has been enveloped in the creative realm for as long as he can remember. With the help of local artist, Travis Bland, Jacobs has transformed Mo’ Betta Soul, which started out as an online music magazine, into a monthly concert series that features anything from hip-hop to rock and folk to performance artists and poets. As if that wasn’t enough to keep them busy, the pair are also working on a new record label, Sounds Familiar Records, that is in its pre-stages and is set to launch later in the summer.
COLUMBIA CITY PAPER: Where did the idea for Mo’ Betta Soul (MBS) come from?
PREACH JACOBS: I actually had the idea come from wanting to have control. Usually when you perform at regular performance venues, there’s so much that’s involved that gets in the way of the performing. You have to go through bookings, sound people, conflicting dates with other bands etc. I just want to play. So, the idea of putting something together that’s more intimate where I can have more control over the crowd and people is something that I’ve always wanted to do.
TRAVIS BLAND: Preach approached me with the idea of Mo’ Betta Soul a couple of years ago while we were both working at Sounds Familiar. When [Preach] told me about the concept of MBS I figured it could be successful especially if we combined our efforts.
CCP: Who came up with the name and what is its significance?
PJ: I’m a huge Spike Lee fan and love the movie Mo’ Betta Blues with Denzel Washington. It’s basically a modern day jazz musician’s story. I could relate to the leading character so much for his love of his music and culture and the name of the event is paying homage to that. Mo’ Betta Soul is also the name of my online magazine.
CCP: Are you looking to branch out of Columbia with Mo’ Betta Soul? If so, are you going to try and keep it local in SC only?
PJ: We’re actually branching out with MBS right now. I have some people in a couple of cities, like Atlanta and Philly, that love the idea and we’re basically going to have the same format. The tagline for the show is “music, art & coffee” and it’s such a simple concept that people respond very well to. Play some fly music and create the right atmosphere while having a visual artist and performing artist each month.
TB: Preach and I are discussing a tour with my band, Sons of Young, and him. We’ve talked about mimicking the concept of MBS on this tour in other places across the U.S. but currently our focus is local. However, whatever artist would be featured on any sort of MBS showcase would be, most likely, from the Southeast, as Preach and I are generally focus on purveying talent from the region.
CCP: You are creating a record label, Sounds Familiar Records. It’s not always easy to create or maintain a label. What are you going to do to make Sounds Familiar Records a well-known label around the Southeast?
PJ: Our focus with the label is to start off small and use what we’ve learned by putting out our projects. My first album Garveyism, sold over 7,000 copies without a label or real distribution. To me, that was just normal but when I spoke to labels and other artists that were very successful, they were impressed. I was never impressed by it because I felt I was just doing what needed to be done: Promote the music and do shows. We are both very involved with everything that we do. People respect when artists are open to the fans and showing the support back to them.
CCP: Are most of the artists signed to your label and part of your showcase friends of yours? Would you prefer to keep your projects ‘in the family’?
PJ: Initially Sounds Familiar Records is going to be the platform to release my project and Sons of Young (Travis’ band) but we do have plans on helping support local artists in Columbia and eventually the Southeast. One of our bands is a group from Asheville called The Secret B-Sides.
TB: We’re all about taking Columbia to other parts of the nation; we want folks to know Columbia like they know Atlanta; we want them to know how great a place it is. Columbia, and South Carolina generally, isn’t known that well and a lot of folks, I feel, think poorly of both for various reasons, true and untrue, throughout the nation. We want show those folks the good side that they just don’t know; it ain’t all Confederate flags and Argentine mistresses. If any state needs a prettier public image it’s SC and we want to help our home with that facelift.
CCP: What is the ultimate goal for Mo’ Betta Soul and those artists associated with it?
PJ: There are a couple of goals I think we would like to be able to achieve. Firstly, I believe we would like to help book shows and events. Bring creative ideas to the shows and have local businesses involved. For example, the July show for Mo’ Betta Soul we’re going to make it a Chuck Taylor party encouraging people to wear their Chuck’s. We’re also having the live artist for the night paint on the shoes and we’re going to get a local business involved to give away some free shoes for the event. It’s just another way of finding a way to get other local businesses involved and not be self-serving. I think that’s the reason why people have responded to it so well is because we don’t want it to just be about us.
Make sure to check out Mo’ Betta Soul once a month at Immaculate Consumption, and stay tuned for more information on Sounds Familiar Records. You can go to either http://www.mobettasoul.com or http://www.soundsfamiliarrecords.com to learn more about the concert series, label, and the artists.