The American Midwest is one of the largest and closest markets for Manitoban artists and offers the potential to book enough regular performances to keep a P2 Visa active for a full year. The Twin Cities area is only a seven-hour drive away while the region’s overall population is roughly twice the size of Canada and encompasses 10 metropolitan areas, each with well over a million people. Coming up on April 9 at the Roundtable Lunch: The Midwest as a Gateway to the U.S., we will be joined by a team of pros who are ready to share their expertise and insights.
Aaron Mader, known professionally as Lazerbeak, is a Minneapolis-based artist and producer. Aside from being a founding member of the Doomtree collective, he is also the CEO and general manager of Doomtree Records, handling the day-to-day operations, management, and inner workings of the crew and label. Over the past decade he has worked with a wide range of artists including Doomtree, Lizzo, Har Mar Superstar, Matt and Kim, Trampled By Turtles, Dessa, GAYNGS, P.O.S, Speedy Ortiz, Mac Lethal, Mixed Blood Majority, and The Plastic Constellations. In addition to original production and songwriting, Beak also works musically behind the scenes on commercials, movie trailers, TV shows, and remixes.
Symone Wilson—aka SYM1, formerly known as Symone Smash It—is an electronic pop artist based in Minneapolis who has performed on every Twin Cites platform possible, from the open streets of downtown to the First Ave main stage. Using video games, alternative dimensions and simulations as a focal point, SYM1 creates music in celebration for everything and every experience to exist.
Brian Lynch is the program manager for Backline Milwaukee, a grant-based accelerator program that provides coaching, mentoring, and industry networking to small cohorts of local musicians. He has a background in entrepreneurship and music.
Tyler Rehm is the owner and founder of the TR Agency, located in Madison WI. He graduated from Madison Media Institute in 2009, where he then worked for SRO Artists, a boutique booking agency in Middleton, WI. After two years of working in the mailroom and becoming a junior agent, Tyler decided to start and run his own agency, which now has 15 different artists, and is still growing. Rehm works primarily with independent artists, helping grow and develop their fan base through strategic touring.
David Safar is music director and overnight on-air host for 89.3 The Current. He also hosts "The New Hot," a weekly music spot. Prior to joining The Current, Safar was music director and program director for Radio K (the University of Minnesota's college radio station).
A Minnesota native, Jade dove into the local music scene early on. Her first love was dance, which she brought to her middle school and Central High School’s Blackbox concerts. While studying journalism at the University of Kansas, she kept her Minnesota ties close as an intern for 2024 Records, while booking bands like Spoon and Sharon Jones to play at her university. Minnesota pulled her back after graduation and she worked promoting independent musicians to radio stations across the nation with Tinderbox Music. Starting at The Current as an overnight host in 2008, Jade continued her work to promote Minnesota artists by curating musical events around the cities, most notably the Summit Backyard Bash and Wing Young Huie’s University Avenue Project (where she dug into the Frogtown music scene and created a soundtrack to the art show and live event series). She organized and booked The Current’s Road Trip, a Legacy-funded project that showcased Minnesota artists around the state. That led her to work as the principal at Minnesota Music Coalition, taking it from an idea to a stable and functioning non-profit. She recently won a Knight Foundation grant to put together art-filled pop-up events in St. Paul.
Get to know them better with our little Q+A...
Q: What is your favourite restaurant in your home city and the best thing to order there?
Aaron: My favorite hometown restaurant is Chimborazo in Northeast Minneapolis. It's an amazing Ecuadorian spot and you cannot possibly go wrong with their Saltado dish. Add a couple sides of the aji criollo sauce and sweet plantains for the icing on top.
Symone: My favorite restaurant in my home city is Revival and the best dish there is their spicy chicken and waffle.
Tyler: Most people in Wisconsin would mention a place that included cheese curds, but I'm gonna go with Sushi Muramoto which is without a doubt my favorite place to eat, their Shrimp Tempura is to die for.
Brian: Corazon. The breakfast burrito!
David: Vietnamese Meatball Banh Mhi from iPho by Saigon (a family-owned spot on University Avenue in Saint Paul).
Jade: Tori Ramen – Bali Bali (the coziest bowl of ramen, ever).
Q: What item, that you don't have already, would you most like to own?
Aaron: More hours in the day.
Symone: An inflatable costume and matching inflatable stage.
Tyler: Is it lame to say a greenhouse? I love gardening, and not being able to do it in Winter is quite a bummer, so I'll go with that.
Brian: It’s not one specific thing, but I have a long sneaker wishlist.
David: A Ludwig Vistalite Kit with acrylic shells - I'm not a competent drummer but these have always been one of my favorite kits.
Jade: I just spent the weekend in Arizona playing tennis, I had never played before and loved it! I don’t own a racket, so I would love to get one and keep playing.
Q: Biggest pet peeve?
Aaron: When things break or stop working. I don't have a handyman bone in my body.
Symone: People who don't cover their mouths while coughing/sneezing.
Tyler: Maybe this sounds silly, but, not saying sorry. It doesn't always fix everything, but, just acknowledging when you go wrong, I think it's an incredibly human thing to do, and we all make mistakes, big and little, and I think brings people closer together to just admit that when it happens.
Brian: Ever see people at the self-checkout with a full cart of groceries?
David: Standing behind the person shooting a video of a concert on their phone.
Jade: When someone is struggling (to open a door, juggling multiple bags, looking for directions, etc.) and no one offers to help.
Q: What is the best live show you've ever been to?
Aaron: Such a tough question, but if I really had to narrow it down to one show I'm gonna have to go with Babyface and New Edition a few summers back in Minneapolis. Absolutely transcendent. Still smiling from that one.
Symone: The Flaming Lips.
Tyler: So many! Gosh. Truly hard to choose. I saw Kesha in Milwaukee six years ago, and she puts on an incredible live show, just a full on performance, which was a blast. Traveling to the Stanley Hotel in Colorado to see Murder By Death is also a standout. It's honestly hard to rank them all. Seeing Green Day and Blink 182 on tour together when I was 13 was also pretty amazing to me as well.
Brian: Radiohead at Bonnaroo in 2012.
David: Radiohead at the Santa Barbara Bowl.
Jade: This year? Robyn is tops.
Q: What is one aspect of your work that you wish more people understood?
Aaron: Another tough questions, but I'd probably have to say the insane balancing act that it takes to juggle home life with a family and a bunch of kids, and work life in the music industry that requires 24/7 attention and care. I'm still trying to figure that one out on the daily.
Symone: How much time and brainpower it takes to complete a song and promote it.
Tyler: I think most people do understand what we do, but, I would probably say it's just the competition for dates. Every band and every agent is working hard to make sure routing is as perfect as it can be, and there are only so many dates in a year. So, you're bound to have routing not go as perfect as you wish.
Brian: Working with musicians has a lot less to do with music and a lot more to do with the individual.
David: The process of reviewing music.
Jade: That sometimes it is actually work 😉