By Kaleem Khan
CALGARY – Despite the fake wigs, goatees and intentionally cheesy visuals, Turquoise Jeep Records is a well-calculated artistic project. Founded by Atlanta-based artists Flynt Flossy and Whatchyamacallit in 2009, the project boasts two full-length albums, over 20 million YouTube views and an ever-increasing roster of artists. Among the swarm of post-modern acts on YouTube, Turquoise Jeep have made their name by redefining what it means to be an independent artist in the Internet age.
“Basically it started in 2009, we became official,” says Flossy. “We just wanted an outlet where we could each have total creative freedom. I had an idea and Whatchyamacallit was down with the cause and we’ve just been riding since.”
Unbridled artistry is a hallmark of Turquoise Jeep, pushing boundaries in their tracks and videos. Their most popular video, Yung Humma’s “Lemme Smang It” coins the term “smang,” a combination of “smash’ and ‘bang”. With references to Nickelodeon cartoons (“I’ma have you lookin’ like a Wild Thornberry”) and iconic film directors (“I smang it Tarantino, From Dusk till Dawn”), the track is a good introduction to the Jeep’s idiosyncratic expression. Many other tracks make flagrant sexual references to food, presented with seriousness that can only be influenced by Andy Kaufman himself (see: “Sex Syrup,” “Tastes You Like Yogurt” and “Fried or Fertilized”).
“There’s no limitations,” says Flossy. “So if I’m directing a video and I’m like ‘Hey I want a dolphin to pop out.’ Then fuck it, a dolphin’s gonna pop out. Does it make sense? Who the hell cares if it does or not? It doesn’t matter.”
Turquoise Jeep currently feature seven artists and are constantly expanding their base. In addition to the artistic vision, a uniting factor within the group is the willingness to explore various genres. Though most of the music revolves around rap and R’n’B, many tracks explore pop and rock sensibilities. The second Turquoise Jeep album, Existing Musical Beings, is named after a self-invented genre that encompasses all styles the group wishes to explore.
“We have a genre where we call ourselves existing musical beings,” says Whatchyamacallit.
“It’s kind of like we can do whatever we feel like doing. EDM tomorrow? We can. If we feel like doing straight hip hop, we can. We can do pop. We might even do rock because we’ve been really feeling that lately.”
The Jeep has collaborated with YouTube personality Flula Borg, as well as Community’s Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino. In 2012, Gambino featured Flynt Flossy and Yung Humma on a track titled “Fuck Your Blog,” taking their deadpan brand closer to a mainstream level. When asked if the group was planning other collaborations, they remained tight-lipped.
“We gotta keep you on your toes,” says Flossy. “We want you to say ‘what the fuck’. Gambino was such a great surprise. We’ve been blessed to even gain the attention of those people. We work hard and people understand our art, so as long as they conform to our art, you never know [who we might collaborate with].”
Without a major label backing, they’ve released full-length albums, dozens of videos and are constantly touring across North America. The group even got the chance to open for Outkast’s Big Boi. Their YouTube videos have dozens of fan-made parodies and they often host contests to closely interact with their fans. Turquoise Jeep are DIY artists that prove self-sponsored art is more than possible with a strong vision.
“High energy is the first thing people should expect at our shows,” says Flossy. “Get ready to sweat. Get ready to enjoy yourselves. We don’t really do the ‘cool’ thing where we stand around and not be a participant of the show. We are all about high energy.”
You can see the Turquoise Jeep Records crew on March 18th at the Starlite Room in Edmonton or here in Calgary at Broken City on March 19th.AB, Alberta, Broken City, Starlite Room, Turquoise Jeep, Turquoise Jeep Records