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A Conversation, A Decentralized Brotherhood

Decentralized BrotherhoodThere is a beautiful home in Manasquan, New Jersey; if you were to walk into this home it would look just like any other, but if you were to stroll down to the basement, you would enter a small home studio.

A computer monitor sat on the right, a microphone to the left of it, and keyboards surrounding it. The walls were poster-ladened with images of different bands, artists, and influencers.

Casted into the corner was perhaps the most pertinent frame: a t-shirt with Recess Radio’s name and logo much like the first ones they sold, perhaps this was the one that got the ball rolling for Recess Radio, because now, “Nothing is a joke,” according to producer/artist Blake Foster.

 Recess Radio carries the age old narrative of a music group that started back in high school. According to the three members I spoke to, the group formed around September of their senior year, and eventually became a collective of eight people: Daniel Harmon, a.k.a Skyeboii; Seamus Higgins, a.k.a ShaeBoro; Blake Foster, a.k.a Lakeblake; Martin Terry, Sean Ferguson, Eddie Destefano, Andrew Cosenza, and Justin Hetzle.

The year 2016 seems about a lifetime ago when Recess’ success is taken into account, but that is when the high school friends got together, made beats, and created tracks that no one knew about. At that time it wasn’t at all serious, but Eddie Destefano stated passionately that, “nothing starts serious.”

There is an old Casio Keyboard pressed against the far wall. I chuckled as I said, “I have the same one.” Terry, who is always in production mode responded, “Oh yeah, but I can’t seem to record anything down off of it, so I just use a different one, or we go to Blakes house.” Martin Terry and Recess are very meticulous in their recording process, and their sound reflects this.

Their main influence, according to Terry, is directly correlated to Chance the Rapper’s 2013 project Acid Rap. Chance seems to be the closest thing to a god that Foster and Terry can find, as they spent all of high school listening to and studying Chance The Rapper’s music.

However, Recess had never done a project before Decentralized Brotherhood, which released on all music platforms on January 25. The group was finally able to sit down together in front of their giant wall to wall chalkboard located in Foster’s home and work on music over Christmas break after being away at their respective colleges. “It is really [inconvenient] that it’s a bunch of us not together,” Foster says, “and that actually ties directly into the title.”

It was the origins of the phrase “Decentralized Brotherhood” that piqued my curiosity and I dove into questioning where Recess got that term from. As unorthodox as it may sound for the fans, the term “decentralized” derived from Cosenza’s affinity for cryptocurrency.

“We would just make fun of him by saying decentralized and he’d get really pissed off,” Foster said. He went onto explain that decentralizing cryptocurrency is when a price is out of place, or is “going crazy.”

Terry, Destefano, and Foster all agreed that the group wasn’t formed on a whim of finding the most talented musicians, but rather a bunch of best friends finding a common interest and capitalizing off of it. Destefano put it this way: “Everyone’s got their own [problems].”

For their latest project, inspiration was not hard to find. “Me and [Terry] were at it from 8:00 a.m. every day,” Foster says. “I felt like a fire.”

According to Foster, the project was hard to make. He compared this project to a “second album,” and relayed the message that all of the group’s music released prior to this project was like telling a story, or a “first album”.

In the continuation of this narrative, it was a no-brainer for the group to look through their old catalog. Then there were other tracks, such as the anthemic “Pick Me Up” which were brand new. Foster and Recess emphasized that one of the things they wanted to do was make it okay for kids their age in this area to chase what they want.

Their music has reached past the edges of Monmouth County into other states, and they have done shows in places such as Vermont as well. They have recently hosted their own concert at Gamechanger World, and find themselves currently in the finals of a “Battle of the Bands” series in Vermont, in which the winning act gets the chance to play an opening set at a larger concert.

However, perhaps their most famous claim to fame in the local area was their antics at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park just a summer ago.

Lakeblake, Terry, and Destefano said that it was very hard to ask people to pay 28 dollars for a ticket, and when they actually did they felt like rockstars. Things got out of hand at The Pony when water started flying, and they were asked to leave the stage. Except, they didn’t.

“They said one more song and you’re done,” Foster told me with a proud smile on his face, “and we had a live band so we played one song, but did not stop, so it was really every song.” They had over 200 people in the building carrying on with their stunt and it made a name for the group in Monmouth County at that point.

Eleanor Novek, Ph.D., a professor of journalism with an outside perspective on the topic, had this to say of the New Jersey music scene, “If the interest of my recent students is any indication, it will be [well represented] in the future!”. However, professor

Aaron Furgason, Ph.D., Chair of the Communication Department, an associate professor of communication and advisor to WMCX, said New Jersey’s relevance has been longstanding for a while now.

Professor Ferguson says, “I think depending on your age, New Jersey musically is probably best known as the place that Springsteen, Sinatra and Bon Jovi built their fame. But New Jersey can also take credit for the rise to fame of Metallica, My Chemical Romance, Bleachers, Sugarhill Gang, and many other artists.” What was their greatest piece of advice? As candid as can be just like their personalities their responses differed.

“We are brothers, at the end of the day, we still have each other,” said Eddie Destefano, probably not knowing he may have just made the hook to their next track. It was an interesting talk, and one that makes you think. What is the most recent thing for you that did not start so serious that could become your entire life?

PHOTO COURTESY of Trevon James