A group of Burlington artists are putting conversation back into music discovery.
Long before Spotify or Pandora, we found new tunes another way: by popping a snowboard flick into the VCR. For many of us who grew up during these analog times, snowboard films were one of the ways, if not the way, we matured our musical taste buds. Contained in those VHS tapes were the latest and greatest antics, tricks, trips and culture, all bridged together by a carefully curated soundtrack.
This collection of songs could, and often did, span entire eras and genres within a single film. Those anthologies ultimately helped form the musical tastes of countless snowboarders, including myself. Before the modern internet age, when music licensing was a bit more lawless, you could find the likes of the Souls of Mischief, Queen, Modest Mouse, NOFX, Iron Maiden, Architecture in Helsinki and many more, all contained within 20 to 30 minutes of grainy snowboarding footage.
When you think about it, music is still a common thread that ties a large portion of the snowboarding community together. So it seems quite natural that from that same community, another musically inspired creation would spring forth.
Inspirational United is an alliance of DJs, musicians, and artists who, for the most part, reside in the East Coast snowboarding hub that is Burlington, Vermont.
Created in the fall of 2017 by graphic designer Lucy Prouty, musician, DJ and sound engineer Ross Travis, and web designer and sound engineer Nick Campolo, Inspirational United takes a nostalgic approach to online broadcasting with the goal of bringing friends, music enthusiasts and creative types all together with one collective goal: to share music.
“Being a designer, it was natural that I work on the design and social media,” Lucy explains. “Ross manages the sound and gear, and Nick took charge of the website and testing different streaming methods. Collectively, the three of us worked together to get the visuals and audio online, to create an interesting lineup, and get people’s attention.” Burlington has been a hub for snowboarding for decades, so it’s no surprise that a large part of the DJs from Inspirational United are either snowboarders themselves, or are somehow involved with action sports to a certain degree. Featured artists range from legendary photographer Blotto, to snowboarding journalist Stan Leveille, to the owner of Skida headwear who DJs under the name Millenial Toast, to the VP of Creative at Burton, Evan Rose, of East Infection fame. The list of those involved is seemingly endless and varied, the majority of whom are linked to snowboarding through business or pleasure, and typically both. The cast and crew are thoroughly mixed between seasoned musical performance pros and total newcomers, with some getting involved simply through email or via DM.
The live streaming aspect of IU grants audiences a backstage pass to every performance—each one unique and varied by featuring new locales and artists with every episode.
As for the name? “We really didn’t overthink naming it; it just came about,” admits Prouty. “But as it’s evolved, it’s turned into this thing that’s actually extremely inspiring and uniting for our community. I love it.”
“It’s an advanced take on ‘pass the aux cord,’” she continues. “What we’re doing is giving people who are talented at DJ’ing, or who have never DJ’ed but are extremely passionate about music, an opportunity to share their collection with the world.”
In this modern age of musical discovery, it’s hard to argue that the internet hasn’t made finding new bands or obscure genres significantly easier. But simultaneously, as Prouty points out, it’s also made the discovery a bit more isolating and less conversational. “What we’re doing is starting a discussion about our musical tastes and finds,” she continues.
The goal is simple: to share music with friends. Many established local and global radio stations are tough to become involved with. So by taking advantage of the accessibility that comes with live internet streaming, IU allows anyone who is passionate about their musical tastes an outlet to share their collection with the world.
“We’re not concerned with following the rules of traditional broadcasting, marketing, or design,” says Prouty. “I think that’s what people have been liking about what we’ve created. The thought is to experience it all in the moment – as if you were at a concert or festival.”
“We also like to have fun, so throwing a 10-hour party every once in a while isn’t bad.”
Check out a Spotify playlist of snowboarding soundtracks curated by IU Artists: twsnow.com/spotify