SAGE SUEDE LLC Interview

Excerpted from author Corie Johnson, Lead Designer of ZenBusiness

Join us today as we interview one of our users, a multi-talented artist named Sage Suede. Listen to his music on Soundcloud here: https://soundcloud.com/sagesuede


“My name is Corie, and I’m with ZenBusiness. Today I’m here with Sage Suede. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?”

Hi, my name’s Sage Suede. I’m a local musician and model in Austin, Texas. I’ve had my brand for a few years now. I started in 2015 and I just started a fashion brand for it. I formalized my business recently as an LLC with ZenBusiness.

“That’s really cool. You said that you were doing clothes, as well, so is this kind of like a lifestyle brand that you’re working on?”

I’d say it’s a lifestyle brand. I do a kind of a streetwear style because I want more of that fusion, and I have a lot of inspiration when it comes to casual clothing. I feel like I have a pretty good perspective as someone that’s been involved in modeling, and most of my clothes from thrift stores; that actually gives me a very variable style.

Sage Suede’s new hat: https://www.sagesuede.com/shop/snapback/

“What were you doing before you started your business?”

Before I started my business I was in college. I made a demo while I was in college at the recording studio there, and currently I’m still working full time in marketing because I jumped into this, without so much capital. I’m learning on my way since I do pretty much everything myself.

“That’s how things go sometimes. So, your business as Sage Suede, what inspired you to start this business? You said you were in marketing and then you were doing some modeling, but what really made you think, ‘Oh, man, this is where I want to head?'”

It’s kind of always been my long-term pursuit and a passion project of mine. As a kid I played drums and piano and guitar and clarinet and I started teaching myself beat production in sixth grade. It’s just something I’ve been doing for my whole life, and it’s reached a point where it sounds a lot better than it used to. I have reached a lot of challenges along the way with developing the music. With most artists nowadays on the radio, they have 40 people on an album or more and everybody’s expecting you to be at this quality level and it’s really a challenge to get there. I do feel I’m very close to that level, if not at that level. Now after having made my demo my new EP is going to be really good because I really honed in on those skills.

“I think that artists these days almost have a task force behind them. There’s all the social media aspects and the online aspects, so it’s really hard to do by yourself. So I think it’s very admirable that you’re doing that.”

Nowadays they kind of expect artists to reach a pretty big level before they’ll even sign them on or consider them anymore.

“You were talking about how this was something you’ve done for quite a while in your life. What made you decide to formalize it? You formed an LLC with us, right? What made you think: ‘This project is something that I should actually formalize and get the business.’ I don’t know if you got an EIN, but did you open a bank account and everything? What made you decide, ‘This is the moment I need to formalize my business?'”

There’s more than a few reasons. One of the main reasons was I’ve been Sage Suede online for about two years… I chose an LLC because I didn’t want my personal assets to be incorporated in the business. I’m starting a business, and I have to take a loss while I’m starting it and I can’t tie my entire life to it.

“Do you have a full digital storefront or do you sell anywhere in person in Austin?”

It’s all digital at the moment. I’m going to start selling it as merch at performances, but I’m waiting on the performances ’til I finish my EP. I did a lot when I was still in Boston, but when I moved back to Austin I didn’t even have a car, so I had to take off more time. Now I want to finish the EP first because it’s so much higher quality. Then I will I start performing again.

“That’s understandable. We kind of talked about what inspired you, but did you have any particular people or artists that inspired you when you started to get into music?”

That’s a hard question because there are so many different kinds of artists. My perspective is very global because I’m a polyglot, so I speak German, Portuguese, Spanish, a little Russian, and I’m all over the place with that. Languages have always been a passion of mine since I was a kid. A lot of my favorite artists are foreign bands, and I listen to music from all over the place. My perspective is very different from where most people perceive music.

There’s a lot of aspects that I really want to incorporate in my music. I do really enjoy hip-hop because the drums are very good. I would love to incorporate some more of that Brazilian style of drumming. I really like electronic music, so I’m very influenced by French electro, German electro house, and all kinds of stuff all over the world and that just all comes together as what I ended up putting out.

“I look forward to hearing your new EP.”

“What were you most afraid of when you started this venture? What really was scary for you?”

That’s a hard question. It’s changed a lot over time. When I first started I was pretty scared of performing. I had a lot of stage fright. I did some classical music training as a kid. I was in band and I made it to area band for two years. I ended up quitting after my sophomore year of high school, but I was very serious about it. I practiced for five hours a day, but the problem was that I would get really nervous in front of people. Everybody always told me I was a state-quality musician, but I would always choke at the performances on stage. What I realized over time is that I actually do have a lot of performance experience. It’s not really something for me to be worried about. It’s still something to be a little bit nervous about, but it’s just because I actually care about how well I’m doing.

“I think even super famous people who go on stage still get that moment of anxiety. At least I hope they do. Otherwise, they’re god level; they’re too cool.”

That adrenaline is a good thing.

“Maybe they can focus on it and use that. For you what was the most difficult part of starting your business?”

I’ve had to do just about everything. It’s really challenging because I work full time in marketing and I’ve learned how to build websites during my marketing internships. I started audio editing really young, so I’ve gotten pretty good at it by now, but if you look at my demo, there’s still errors. I’ve gotten to this point by just consistently working towards it. Web design did take me awhile. I’m still having some issues with it.

“It is hard, let me tell you. As a designer myself! It is a long road.”

I had to learn graphic design. The new clothes I’m doing, I’m designing them. It is taking some time. I think it’s a time commitment, always additional time in my day. I really love doing it, so it’s worth the time, and I really want more people to see it. That’s part of the challenge, getting that open and available to everyone.

“Can you tell me what advice would you give to other entrepreneurs or other people who are just starting out their own businesses? In music or otherwise.”

I’d say, especially in music, don’t give up on what you’re doing because the business is really just a combination of all your time and your effort and everything you’re doing. Being all about the profit isn’t really correct for your business because most new businesses don’t profit for three years to five years after the formation. As you’re starting don’t let anybody talk you down, especially if you’re a musician. Your music isn’t going to suit everybody’s tastes, even if you’re the biggest musician in the world! You really have to let people say whatever they want about your stuff, but don’t take it personally because a lot of them will probably change their minds at times, or they might like another song of yours.

How has your life changed since you started this business?

I’ve had it informally for a long time. I’m happier with it now that it’s formalized, it shows how serious I am and that it is a full thing that I’m investing in and it’s not just a side project when I have the money behind it. It’s motivated me more to keep working towards it just because of the additional costs. And I have about 50,000 followers already so…

“WHAT! I didn’t know that. That’s crazy. Congratulations.”

It’s mostly Instagram. Part of the challenge is getting people that are on different social sites to see what else I have or to go to my shop and all that. They want to like you as much as they can when they’re around on your social sites, but they don’t necessarily see anything else you make. So that’s part of the challenge.

“Especially Instagram because it’s so visual, and, as an artist or as a music artist, that’s a whole other issue. But I guess they have video now, too.”

I’m still trying to find good ways to schedule videos. It’s always been difficult.

“What’s the next thing for your business – your artistic vision?”

I’m finishing up my EP; it’s called Electro Papi EP. It’s almost done. I’m about halfway done. I haven’t figured out how many tracks I’m going to do, but I’m thinking probably six tracks. I have a demo that’s already out. If you want to download that, that’s on my website. I also have 15 other free songs you get if you join my email list. I’m going to send one of the songs that’s from the upcoming EP so you guys can listen to it in this interview. I also have a YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/user/ALittleShock. So listen to my music there. I have a comedy series, and I talk about magic from different cultures all over the world, if that’s something that interests you. It’s something that interests me.

“You have another whole section on YouTube that’s about magic, and a comedy series?”

One of them is a superhero parody series where I’m a superhero, but he’s super petty, so he doesn’t really save people very often. I’m also going to start doing clothing giveaways as I add new products to my website. I’ll give away one item of clothing to someone that wins the raffle.

Entrants can sign up for my email list here and then they express interest in giveaways during the contest period: https://mailchi.mp/6f35a19f1a9f/sage-awesome-giveaways-exclusives#header

The first giveaway is the hat I wore during this interview: http://www.SageSuede.com/Shop/Snapback.

“Is there anything else you wanted to share with us today or anybody listening to this podcast? Maybe young artists, anything else you want to tell them?”

Definitely don’t give up on your dreams if you are a person in music. I do think it’s worth it to get an LLC just to separate your personal assets. ZenBusiness can be a really good way to do that since they’re a local Austin business and they don’t charge you a filing fee.

“Thank you so much for coming in today. I really appreciate it. And everybody who is out there please make sure you check out Sage Suede.”

Thanks for having me.


 

Read The Full interview on ZenBusiness.com

Find Sage Suede:
SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/sagesuede
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/ALittleShock
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sage_suede/

 

Download Sage Suede’s special Halloween track here for free:

Shop Sage Suede & ElectroPapi EP

Welcome to my new store Shop Sage Suede!

I will be adding fashion, street wear, music, accessories and other wonderful things to the store. I am currently working with suppliers on setting this up.

ElectroPapi EP

I am working on a new release called ElectroPapi EP. It will be 4-6 tracks and features a futuristic electro-pop sound. I have evolved significantly since DIAMONDBACK Demo, as you can probably tell. When I released DIAMONDBACK, it was just me every step of the way. My music continues to rely solely on my personal growth and my drive to succeed.

I really wouldn’t have been able to make this site without choosing a career in marketing. I have years of experience with designing sites, sending emails and all that jazz from work and that has made all the difference. Because I didn’t have an online presence at the onset, I have had to focus more on the marketing than the music component and there are still outstanding issues with DIAMONDBACK Demo. I released it in all music stores un-mastered, because I didn’t know any better. I used almost no vocal comping, etc..

Check out the mirrored dance video for DIAMONDBACK. I made it of course, with my okay video editing and dancing abilities.

However, My Mistakes Are Good News For You!

I don’t want anyone to pay full price for the demo anymore, especially since I didn’t master it before release. As a result, DIAMONDBACK Demo is 100% free un-mastered through this site. You can also get the mastered version of DIAMONDBACK Demo for only $3 in Shop Sage Suede. I am very generous about sharing with my fans, because your support is very important to me. I am charging $3 for the mastered demo, because it is much cheaper than the un-mastered version and that’s essentially the cost of a single song including tax and yes, the state of Texas is taking a cut of that $3, so I’m not actually earning anything. I was just hoping that I could get enough to cover the mastering fee.

Note: I will be uploading the mastered version of DIAMONDBACK Demo to replace the un-mastered version in other stores.

More About ElectroPapi EP

I am almost done with the first few tracks of my EP. The lead track is called Soft Serve Chillin and you can find the preview below:

Skirt Flirt is another track on the EP, but I haven’t shared a preview yet.
If you dig deep, you can probably find it in one of my recent Live.me streams.

I also shared 2 previews of Takin a Sip (this is the least finished, so it has a lot of potential to change).

Will You Revisit Tracks on DIAMONDBACK Demo?

I haven’t decided if I will remix or re-make any tracks on DIAMONDBACK Demo yet. I am considering doing a new version of Shaky Lips (Lazy Sunday with You). If there is a track that you really love and you would like me to improve on the EP, then please let me know!

I learned a lot from DIAMONDBACK Demo, mostly about audio editing, but also all about sharing my music. It’s not easy at all and it’s really hard to get any support from people.

If you’re someone that really values my work, I highly encourage you to share it! I won’t be able to do touring, until things scale up further. That being said…

Sage Suede Has Grown a Lot.

When I started this website in May 2015, Sage Suede didn’t exist. I didn’t have any music online, except for under a myspace persona called T.D. Maurader (spelling?).  I don’t even remember and it was the name I was calling myself. Before Sage Suede, I also briefly went by the name AJ Bluejay. That’s why you can find an image or two on this site with that name.

I finished DIAMONDBACK Demo in March 2017. In retrospect, it definitely wasn’t finished without mastering, but I had to be thoroughly criticized and maligned to acknowledge that I’m held to a multi-billion dollar industry standard that really isn’t achievable for anyone. I really do mean that, because it’s rare to find independent artists that even make it to my current musical quality, without paying $300/song for each mix and that same price again for every master + 50 other people that make minor edits to all of their tracks. Unfortunately, that’s what people think music is and they laud mega-celebrities to the point of desperation. I wish I could be respected for what I’ve made, but most of the time it’s just a comparison to somebody else.

Since all of that, I now have social media across the internet. I’ve completed a lot more modeling experiences, which is a passion of mine, and I started up my YouTube channel. I really want to help provide people with the cool stuff they’re working on and I’m doing the best I can with what I can afford. I hope that y’all can keep things in perspective, but don’t worry about ElectroPapi EP – it is up to the standards of the music industry, but only because I’ve gotten much better at audio editing, singing, and more! I already have it stuck in my head every day lol.

I’m at ~50K followers now, but I feel like too many of those are for a followback. I wish I had time to look through everyone’s posts, but I don’t and I try my best to be present when I am online (note: if you engage with me, I do my best to look at your profile afterwards ;)). As of late, I’ve been holding off on followbacks because that kind of makes me sad. I try so hard and struggle to get visibility, like the last time I promoted a video on my primary social profiles, it only got 15 more views. That’s awful and it is a trend in social media that it becomes more and more like an advertising platform, as they shift their algorithms to remove all of your friend’s content from your newsfeed. You can blame Facebook for that, because they started it and it’s still happening across social platforms. I’ve never been happy about it as an indie artist.

Anyways, after much self-debate, I have decided to continue following back on Twitter for the time being. My reasoning is that it’s better to have people that follow me for the followback than to lose people that have a genuine interest in my hard work. I would rather followback people that won’t engage than lose out on an opportunity to get to know people that genuinely care. I am not following back on other social platforms because they have low follow limits.

It Was So Hard to Make Everything on This Site

I’ve lost a lot of friends while pursuing these goals. I’ve lost relationships and been berated by others for having an online presence. People used to respect my intelligence more before I got good at styling my hair and I enjoy modeling too. I don’t do this because I’m a narcissist. I don’t need to share my modeling photos and I really don’t need people to acknowledge what I look like. I am working to materialize a goal that I’ve always had and that’s to be a musician full-time. I’ve learned to improve everything at a very fast pace, while constantly being told I’m not good enough, but I know that my main skills are in music. I am a multi-instrumentalist, although I had to focus on the audio production aspects for a while. I didn’t pick up marketing until internships in college and I really learned most of my skills by working (I only took one course in marketing in college). It’s been a really long ride and in many ways, a constant struggle.

I am looking forward to a day when I can be respected for who I am. That might not happen until I die. I don’t really care anymore. I’m tired of people trying to write me off, because they bought into a person that was sold to them for millions of dollars. I don’t have that kind of money and I don’t want to be compared to them. Few of them have any of the skills that I have through working so hard towards my goals. Pretty much everything I do for Sage Suede is outside of my work hours, so it’s like a full-time job and I just want to share my art with people.

I am really excited to share the new store with y’all!

You may or may not know this, but I have good taste in clothes and I am carefully curating every item for the new store. It may not be until next week or so that I get the first new item on the store, but that’s only because I am in the process of re-designing my logo. You will love it, I’m sure. I have design experience but the designer I’m working with is much better than me with illustration and clean images. I want it to be high quality for y’all and I can’t wait for the products to start getting released! In the meantime, you’ll probably start to see some prodfucts without logos.

The style of the new store can be described as street wear that is actually cool. I don’t want to give much detail, because if it’s anything like the last time I got a pair of glasses, 15 people will imitate me the second they see it. I have an innate eye for style that can’t be imitated though and I know that I have a lot to offer the world of fashion. At some point, you will also be able to purchase these products at my concerts.

I look forward to sharing more with everyone! Download the free version of DIAMONDBACK in my store, or help me cover the small fee of getting it mastered. I’ve come a long way since debating my name two years ago and struggling to finish my Demo during college. I am so happy to have you with me on this journey and I hope you’ll check back soon. You can also subscribe to my new email list for access to blog posts and new content one week before everyone else! It’s the tab/pop-up in the bottom right of the screen called Saucy Posse Fast Access.

 

  1. 01 - Bird Girl 2:51
  2. 02 - Cleopatra (snake queen) 2:34
  3. 03 - How Can I 2:23
  4. 04 - Un Photo De Toi Nu 3:02
  5. 05 - Sexy in that Sweater 2:22
  6. 06 - Lazy Sunday with You (Shaky Lips) 2:03
  7. 07 - It's Alright (Fall in Love Again) 3:53
  8. 08 - Uh Huh 2:48
  9. 09 - Bring my Diamondback 3:39