Chicago record label helps produce creative community


Ellie Conrad

At the open mics hosted by Weegone Records, running several events until Dec. 13, anyone can perform for the label, but college participation is encouraged. 

By Arts & Culture Reporter

Getting noticed by a record label is an elusive dream for most performers, but local students will have a chance to impress producers in an upcoming series of college open mic nights. 

Weegone Records, a local independent record label, will host the events Oct. 20, Nov. 17 and Dec. 13 at REFUGE Live!, 416 S. Clark St.

Weegone sponsored the open mic series to create an art community and search for new talent, according to Stafford Hipp, a producer for the label and junior audio arts & acoustics major.

“A party atmosphere where people can perform is a great way to network and to meet other creative people,” Hipp said.

Past open mics hosted by Weegone had more than just musicians in attendance. According to Hipp, graphic designers, cinematographers and more industry professionals show up to check out the talent.

Among artists signed on the Weegone label is Rylan Freidhof, a self-proclaimed future soul producer and senior business & entrepreneurship major, who goes by the stage name Space ca$h.

Freidhof started working with Weegone over the summer. He said after being introduced to other Weegone artists, he frequently collaborated and wrote with them. 

“Ever since then, [collaboration] wasn’t even a question,” Freidhof said. “It was like, ‘Yo, when are you going to come over next?’ It was a very organic thing.”

Weegone’s focus is to grow a Chicago-centric artist community—something that sets it apart from other labels—Freidhof said.

“The idea is that you don’t need to be in [Los Angeles], you don’t need to be in New York, to pop as an artist,” Freidhof said.

Freidhof said Grammy winners and other industry professionals, including rapper GLC and beat producer C-Sick, have attended past shows.

The open mic events are open to all local musicians but focus on undiscovered college students, Freidhof said.

Columbia has its own open mic events such as the Columbia Music Collective. Paige Carlson, a sophomore music major who is also a member of CMC, said new performers should not necessarily go to Weegone’s events. 

Going to a record label’s open mic could be intimidating, and something very casual like Columbia Music Collective would be better for someone’s first time, Carlson added.

“[CMC] is more of a club atmosphere,” Carlson said. “People just join on their own will if they have any interest whatsoever. Everyone’s just looking to have a good time.”

Newcomers may feel intimidated, but Weegone is open to everyone, not just veteran performers, Hipp said.

“It’s a testing ground,” Hipp said. “For the kid who’s never performed before, it’s a safe space where people aren’t going to judge you. You get up there and do your thing.”

Hipp said it is important for “bedroom producers,” who write a lot of music but don’t perform, to get out and present their work.

“We’ll take someone who is very driven over someone who is extremely talented with no drive,” he said.”We’re a very personalized, grassroots working environment.”