Last Triumph is a Minneapolis based crew making successful and creative marketing moves. The sky is the limit for the man behind the scenes, JR. His hard work, smart career moves and carefully executed strategies are proving to pay-off. Learn a thing or two on stepping your business game up from a man living his dream.
JR: Music and art was something that organically found me early on in life at about age 10. It was love at first sight, aww. I started being involved in the Twin Cities music scene at age 13. I was in a punk band called Cx18 with some neighborhood friends and started playing shows in different basements since we were too young to play at venues. I got into the business side and started printing T-shirts, stickers, CDs, etc. for our band and we started to generate some income.
Once I had a taste, there was no going back. I was addicted, obsessed and hooked…we’re still talking about music.
From there I started to meet some industry people working in the scene. One of those people was Ben Obi of Savannah Street Music. He brought me in to do mixing and editing work on some big projects for a record label such as Universal.
I worked for free for many years until I started to get some good paying gigs. I hooked up with Zivix a small music innovation company in Minneapolis in 2009 and am still working there today. We nerd out everyday, its awesome. You can find our products on Nintendo Wii, PC, Xbox360, PS3, iPhone, iPad, and Android.
Last Triumph is my crew. Together, we’ve done some amazing things and I’m excited for the future to see what we can do.
UG: TV licensing is an interesting line of work to get into, how did you decide upon that as a career?
JR: Obviously times have changed and the music industry is in a different place today. As an indie artist I’ve had to find ways to do music while still having food on the table. Records aren’t selling like they used to, so TV and video game licensing have been a good source of income. There is a lot you can do with a song besides selling it on iTunes.
UG: You also are a master at video game developing, what was the first one you ever helped create? Which one remains your favorite?
JR: Not a master just yet, but we are learning everyday. The first game I helped develop was called “JamParty –Be The Music” for PC, which then became “JamParty –Remixed” retail boxed version also for PC, and then finally our flagship version “JAM –Live Music Arcade” which we just released on Xbox360 and PS3. It all started in the back room at Zivix in downtown Minneapolis with different midi controllers and us basically geeking out with code and music stems. I’m really excited about our recent version of JAM, as it features many local and mainstream artists and it has an amazing experience at a great price point, (ONLY $9.99!). We’ve also created several mobile apps and an awesome music game on the Nintendo Wii called “Just Jam”. My favorite has to be JAM –Live Music Arcade, as it was a huge challenge to submit to Microsoft (Xbox) and Playstation, and we did it!
UG: I understand that Last Triumph is your brainchild, how did you start it up and become involved in the local music scene?
JR: I just happened to be surrounded by a ton of extremely talented people, its extreme. I saw everyone trying to do everything themselves and so I thought why don’t we start a crew? This way we can all do our part individually to create something bigger. We call it Last Triumph.
UG: You’ve worked with a lot of cool people I’d imagine, who were some of your favorites and why?
JR: This is a tough question. It’s been awesome working with everyone over the years but I have 2 sessions that come to mind. Last year, I teamed up with one of my favorite producers of all time, Lance Conrad of Humans Win Recording studio in NE. We recorded with RCA artist Cory Chisel. We covered a Beatles song “Fixin a Hole” for the Minnesota Beatles project. It was a fun challenge to try to cover a Beatles song, and then mix it to sound modern yet true to the Beatles old school tape sound. Cory Chisel is an amazing musician you should check out. The other session was Steve Greenberg of Lipps, Inc. who produced and wrote the famous hit Funkytown. Him and I were working on the stems from Funkytown to port over to the video game JAM. It was cool to hear his stories of having a major hit song. The video game really exposed me to some great artists. It’s been awesome getting stems from Universal and Sony engineers and then hearing things like Big Boi of Outkast before a vocal take saying, “(yawn), just another day in the dungeon” before laying down lyrics to a multiplatinum hit.
UG: What are a few things on your bucket list?
JR: Writing a book
Continue the food garden in my yard
Producing a Last Triumph vinyl
More mobile apps coming
Community, bringing people together always.
UG: You’re one of the few promoters left to embody the entire hip-hop culture at live shows, what can people expect from a Last Triumph event?
JR: Whether it’s a Last Triumph or affiliated hiphop, indie rock, electronic, rave or acoustic event, you can expect vibrant energy, organized and fairly traded transactions between artists and promoters, live art, video game booths, anything to provide good times for people who come out.
UG: Do you have a fan club, or street team type of group where the fans can do more hands on promotion?
JR: Yes, with social networking it’s nothing for someone to click “share” to a new LT release and share it with hundreds of their friends or followers. Pretty much every person in our crew is a street teamer, you can’t just sit on Facebook and promote.
UG: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
JR: I am going to continue this path and see what happens. As long as I work hard enough to sustain, eat good food, create my art, and show it to some people…I am happy.
UG: How can people keep up with your label for releases and tour dates, or to contact you?
UG: Last but not least, what is your advice for young kids out there, looking for their big creative break?
JR: Set goals and dream about your destination, but have fun along the way, the journey. Do what you do naturally by working hard and making good honest decisions, it will come.