A new EP from Neocrassical has become the first ever audio-visual EP to be released as an NFT (non-fungible token).
Conversational Freestyles, Neocrassical’s debut EP, unlike anything seen before, takes the form of comedic narrative and synthesised beats, amid arrestingly engaging visuals.
Both songs on the EP, Hello Sunshine and F U, are unedited vocal and visual freestyles, and highlight the power of improvising using easily accessible creative tools, and the power of comedy and accents in creating relatability.
Neocrassical released the EP as an NFT after having developed an awareness of the pitfalls of the music industry’s revenue structures, with labels and “middle men” getting up to 80% of music revenues.
The NFT revenue model threatens to dismantle this. Self-releasing as a token gives all sales directly to the artist and the income is in the cryptocurrency Ethereum, which is poised to increase in value at a higher rate than fiat money over the next 10 years. It also gives artists a royalty that is delivered automatically via a self-operating smart contract.
A fan can invest in an artist’s vision and purchase an NFT, and can then profit from re-selling the NFT in years to come as an artist grows in popularity.
Neocrassical believes we are at the dawn of a paradigm shift, as artists wake up to a new reality where blockchain technology creates self-running smart contracts that send the artists their NFT royalties without the artist having to chase or audit. Conversational Freestyles comes directly before Kings of Leon were announced as the “first band to release an NFT album”.
Conversational Freestyles’ videos, somewhere between fine art and memes, feel as if they could go viral on a platform like YouTube. Instead of seeking virality, Neocrassical wanted their first release to be a gem that can only be viewed as an NFT in the blockchain from where it was originally released.
The videos highlight the ability to create artwork using technology most people already own: smartphones. They manipulate iPhone technology by using the voice memo app, as well as referencing iMessage conversations in a unique way. Both videos on the EP are also delivered by Animoji characters, a tool never before exploited as the music video “leads” that drive the action.
The nostalgic, 90s trance-influenced instrumental for Hello Sunshine was intended to be a frenetic, menacing combination of a dark foreboding bassline, topped with a shrill clown-like melody in the high end.
Its sonic feeling was intentionally reflected visually through the use of visuals apparently falling in space, with the characters nonsensically placed in the different environments, sometimes interacting with it and sometimes ignoring it.
Black space, on frames smattered with colour in between, create an ominous feeling. The video also intentionally crescendos with the music to climax at the end, with the edit speed and use of hyper-realistic text and character mirroring effects, cementing the idea that this whole piece is what Neocrassical calls: ‘hyper-realistic nonsensically sense-making’.
Lyrically, the listener hears the vocals at the same time as the artist. There was no pre planned narrative and each sentence was freestyled without stopping – first the man’s voice, then the child’s voice – for adlib responses. This creates a beautiful dynamic freestyle combination. The man concludes the video essentially as a subconscious voice in the head of the piece’s true protagonist, the child.
Neocrassical describes the epic beat in F U as “80s glam donk hardcore”. The video makes use of office stock imagery, uncovered when the artist was working as a corporate video editor. Visual colour themes intentionally use soft pastels in blue and purple to create a corporateesque positive feel to go with the feelings of jubilation in the music production. The happy feelgood melodies in the beat juxtapose with aggressively angry lyrics.
Neocrassical’s freestyling music journey began when exchanging voice notes with friends, where they would record freestyled voice memos over instrumental house music on pirate radio. Neocrassical found that this informal freestyling awoke an area of the brain with the capacity for melody composition, and then began creative experimentation.
With Conversational Freestyles, Neocrassical is sprinting headfirst through the unknown into the realm of no-return, releasing the EP onto the blockchain and burning it into digital eternity, making a world-first in the process.
“I’m excited to take the risk of being one of the first movers in the music NFT space. I’m just happy to be able to make my own visuals and beats so I could sprint to be the first to release an EP this way, and be the one to test whether this is the way forward. I think the release style is also congruent with the newness of the piece’s style artistically. My artistic direction was to create something so engaging that it signalled, in some way, that I respect the consumer’s attention and am working hard to entertain them to the absolute highest end of my capabilities.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
NFT Listing & Pricing:
NFT listing – https://opensea.io/collection/neocrassical-conversational-freestyles-ep-nfts
The NFT’s were released with 3 mints (editions) of each song, making 6 mints in total.
Each mint is priced at 0.33 ETH (around £400 at time of writing).
Neocrassical describes themselves as a creator of post-Internet-comedic-acid-trance-punk-popart, while also being a freestyling enthusiast and a music producer. Neocrassical came from a background in Economics and went on to host club nights, manage music artists and direct/edit music videos, before studying acting and transitioning to becoming an artist themselves. As an audio-visual artist, Neocrassical works alone to create all the elements in each piece – producing the beat, performing the vocals and editing the music video.
The name, Neocrassical, stems partly from ‘Neoclassical’ economics, which the artist studied, and partly refers to the crass lyrics utilised in their music. The words used and sentiments expressed come from taboo topics that are actually very everyday. References to drugs, the C word and wanting to tell someone F U are all relatable things that people talk about in an office, but deem to be less suitable topics for art. Any provocative element comes from questioning why these phrases feel so bizarre when they are so normal.