Oklahoma-based production house broadcasts live local music into homes everywhere with CLM Live! series
For anyone who has been deep into the local music scene in the Oklahoma City metro for the past year or two, Circle Lotus Media is already a buzz-worthy brand. With playlists, social media features, and livestreaming concerts, the burgeoning enterprise has helped to fill a great void in Okie music by offering an online hub for up-and-coming artists to feature their talents.
This interview was conducted for a feature in the Oklahoma Gazette, which you can read here.
Make Oklahoma Weirder: How did Circle Lotus Media get started, and how long has it been running?
David Joachims (COO): Circle Lotus Media was started by my long-time friend Mylo back around May of 2020. He asked me to help him with this idea he had, then one thing lead to another, the rest as history, etc. We did our first livestream show back in July of 2020, and have done a show or produced some sort of content almost every week since.
Make Oklahoma Weirder: What does CLM do?
Mylo Sonder (CEO/Founder): Circle Lotus Media is an online platform for local and underground artists to grow and cultivate their own presence online. We act essentially as a virtual venue with weekly streamed live concerts on our YouTube channel, as well as content creation, video production, Spotify playlisting, and promoting new releases from local artists on our social media.
Make Oklahoma Weirder: Was livestreaming always in the plans, or was it something COVID inspired?
Mylo Sonder: It’s kind of both; I came up with the original idea a couple years ago. After being in the music scene for almost 10 years now, I started to see a pattern in how hard it is to grow an audience without some sort of online presence, so I wanted to figure out a way to not only help my bands but to build the community as a whole. I want the artists we have on our platform to walk away with a good representation of who they are so they can use that in building their fanbase, or even help with things like booking shows.
David Joachims: The pandemic definitely accelerated the awareness and demand of live virtual entertainment; both Mylo and myself have been using sites like Twitch for a while now though, so live-streaming was something we were familiar with, and was definitely in the plans from the start. Actually, our first endeavor was to make a 24-hour livestream radio with all local music–complete with artwork, visuals, info, etc.–however we eventually tabled that for multiple reasons. The livestream shows were originally a secondary idea, given how uncertain the timeline of everything was during early summer, but as situations progressed, it became clear that they were going to be needed.
Make Oklahoma Weirder: What have been some challenges with livestreaming? In terms of not just production and logistics, but also in getting the word out and disrupting the status quo, or any road blocks you’ve hit in general?
Mylo Sonder: Everything has been an issue at some point, but it’s helped us figure out how we can fix stuff on the fly, or find better solutions for persistent problems. The biggest issue has always been cost–getting the equipment we need and getting it to work on a budget of duct tape and shoestring has been a challenge.
David Joachims: Obviously, the production is its own beast–we’re at a point now where we’re experienced and confident enough that we can go mobile and livestream in-person events–and that’s not without rough roads…We’ve taken our fair share of L’s, but our attitude is to not get caught up in mistakes or failures, but to learn from them and do better next time.
Oh, and shoutout to all the artists who have gracefully suffered with us through our technical difficulties. Speaking of, the artists (along with our wonderful booking agent Eli) have honestly made the logistics not terrible; the support they’ve shown us is not taken for granted. In terms of getting the word out, we’re just trying to be consistent in quality and output, but also thoughtful and realistic. If there’s anything we’re trying to disrupt, it’s thing like cliques and close-mindedness. We have a ground-up approach to everything and, even though as Mylo said, budget is always an issue, we’re also able to do some things that other organizations/platforms can’t or won’t when it comes to who we work with or how we operate.
Make Oklahoma Weirder: Are you explicitly focused on Oklahoma music, or do you also work with artists outside of the state?
David Joachims: We’re absolutely open to that, but we knew the best way to start was in our own backyard, so to speak. Both Mylo and I have been in and around the Oklahoma scene for a long time; we want to see it flourish, and it’s amazing to be able to facilitate that in any way.
Make Oklahoma Weirder: How is your approach to livestreaming changing as the pandemic allows for in-person shows again?
David Joachims: Livestreaming isn’t going anywhere, but we have changed our regular show schedule a bit from Friday nights to Sunday nights to accommodate for the increasing amount of going out. Regardless, something we always want to emphasize is that the shows are performed live but they are on Youtube forever after that, so if you can’t catch it live, you can always watch it there later!
Mylo Sonder: We’ve also been working on content outside of just the livestreams. We have our Venue Spotlight and Fireside series we’re looking to expand on, and also we’ve recently updated to a more mobile rig so we hope to lease our skills out to other live events, like color of Art which we worked on with Original Flow at Scissortail Park. We also are opening up our studio for artists to come record with our in-house engineer, Caleb Gray. We try to keep ourselves very busy.
Make Oklahoma Weirder: What’s the deal with this new cassette tape, CLM Live Vol. 1?
David Joachims: Late in 2020, we started multi-track recording our live shows directly, and since then we’ve had all these recordings of great local artists that I thought would be cool to use in some way. Inspired by some other local compilations–Not Alone, OK organized by Grandpa Vern / Factory Obscura’s Mixtape Series / SixTwelve’s Building Together–I had the idea to organize the compilation featuring some of the artists we’ve had on.
Make Oklahoma Weirder: What sounds can people expect to hear on the new tape?
David Joachims: We’ve got rock, heady alternative, fast-paced punk, live band hip-hop, pop vibes, smooth singer-songwriter stylings, and more. 14 tracks from 14 different Oklahoma artists.
Make Oklahoma Weirder: Is this the first in a series of tapes to come from CLM?
David Joachims: Each song on this album was performed between January to May of 2021. My hope is that we can make another one for the second half of the year.
Make Oklahoma Weirder: How did you decide to make this a fundraiser for the Homeless Alliance?
David Joachims: Especially given the past year, we would’ve loved to use this to bring in some money for the artists that we’ve worked with, but on a project like this, that gets exponentially more complicated with the amount of people involved, copyright, etc. So we decided that donating the profits would be both the simplest outcome and a great way to rally and support the community. We wanted the money to go somewhere local, and we think the Homeless Alliance does valuable, practical, and tangible work for an incredibly underserved and overlooked community.
Make Oklahoma Weirder: Where can people get the tape? Your website? Bandcamp?
David Joachims: The 14-track album will be available for digital purchase on our website for $12. Cassette tapes will be available at: Dig It, Factory Obscura‘s gift shop, and BY.E. We will also tapes available ourselves for $15–prices of the tapes may vary depending on vendor.
Make Oklahoma Weirder: What are your thoughts on cassette tape culture, both in general and locally?
David Joachims: I’m not really involved with it personally, but I support pretty much any physical music. The main reasoning for the cassette tape was that we wanted to have a physical representation of our digital experiences, and we’ve been seeing some cool things in the local tape scene, such as Make Oklahoma Weirder’s display at Dig It. Also big thank you to Average Ear Recording for working with us and making these tapes!
Make Oklahoma Weirder: What have been some of your proudest accomplishments with CLM so far?
David Joachims: First of all, I love all my children equally. Second of all, it’s the Magic Munchbox Variety Hour. In all seriousness, that was still one of the biggest things we’ve done in terms of production and preparation, and it was worth every minute. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can find it on our YouTube channel, highly recommend. I’m also personally proud of the monthly Release Roundups we’ve been doing–I handle everything for those, and it’s been really rewarding. I hope it’s brought some value to the community!
Mylo Sonder: We’ve accomplished a lot in the year we’ve been active, but probably my favorite thing is just whenever a new artist comes to the studio and is in shock about our setup. I don’t know how many times we’ve had someone say, “Wow, I thought it was gonna be a small room and a phone.” As far as content, though, the Munchbox Variety stream and our first stream for Color of Art are probably the two moments I would say are the proudest. Followed close by the CLM Mixtape.
Make Oklahoma Weirder: What else is in store for CLM in 2021 and beyond?
Mylo Sonder: Our name comes from this idea of the three pillars of a local music scene–artists, venues, and fans–are all needed for local music to thrive and grow. We have so much planned for the future, but whatever we do, we want to raise this community along with us.
David Joachims: We want to continue expanding our reach, collaborating with more artists & organization, trying new things and pushing our limits. Oh, and have some fun along the way.
Make Oklahoma Weirder: Anything else you’d like to add or shout-outs you’d like to drop?
Mylo Sonder: I’d like to shout out my team: Anna, Lorenzo, Evan, Eli, Caleb, Adam, and my partner in crime David, for helping make this weird idea actually happen and always being able to roll with the craziness that we sometimes get into. Also to everyone who has taken a chance on us and has supported us–truly from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much.
David Joachims: Thank you to Mylo for bringing me in on this project, to our CLM team for being fantastic, to these artists for creating great things, and to everyone that has supported us, on this project or in any way.