There’s a different kind of party coming to town, and it’s bound to be a spectacle unlike anything Pensacola has seen in a while. Cryptic Productions will celebrate its launch with a collision of art and music at Vinyl Music Hall on Saturday, July 16. IN recently caught up with Cryptic founder Shaun Holifield to chat about the event and the new company.
On the surface, Holifield looks like a normal, everyday guy. When we meet at Wisteria Tavern for our interview, he’s sporting his fresh-off-the-press Cryptic Productions shirt with a beer in hand. It doesn’t take long to realize that there’s something different here, though. He has a unique and pointed vision of what the Pensacola music and arts scene is capable of, and he is determined to be a part of that explosion. And he’s also barefoot.
As a Pensacola native, Holifield knows the ins and outs of the Pensacola arts community. “There are plenty of artists in our area who are searching for an outlet for their stuff. One of the main goals for us is to be a lifeline for those artists and the people who appreciate their work,” he says, fully aware of the eccentric charm that the city has in all its nooks and crannies. “There is so much untapped potential right under our noses.”
He’s focused on finding local and regional musicians to fill the current void of electronic and hip-hop music in Pensacola. “With the type of music fans I know here personally, there’s no reason to think we can’t succeed, and that bands won’t want to play the area.”
Holifield likes to call his events “mini-festivals,” productions that involve many types of people in some fashion. The launch party will be a microcosm of what you can expect from Cryptic’s events in the future.
“Obviously, we’ll have the music, but we’ll also have live painting and sculpting, light production, and vendors selling everything from jewelry to hand-blown glass,” he says, obviously excited about the upcoming show. “We want it to be a positive environment that connects like-minded people to each other and the community.”
For the music, Holifield has brought in Nashville-based producer Art Webb, who has recently gained recognition opening for big names on the electronic music scene like Pretty Lights and Big Gigantic. Stage-named This is ART, his music is heavily influenced by hip-hop and involves him looping bass guitar, beats and synthesizers all live onstage.
Webb grew up in the early MTV era, when music videos were still being played on the channel. He still recollects the times when the Tag Team hit “Whoomp! There It Is!” was huge. “I remember being 5 years old and hearing the song on the radio in someone’s truck. It took everything I had to convince my mom to find that station.”
He was surrounded by music as soon as he was born, and he was lucky enough to have a music program at his elementary school. “Out of all the classes, my favorites were lunch, recess and music–in that order. You didn’t really have to do anything but enjoy playing music,” he remembers with a laugh.
When asked more about his sound, Webb states, “It’s a melting pot of what everybody’s been listening to. I found myself in the crowds at shows wishing the bands would do this or that. I finally reached a point where I couldn’t figure out what was keeping me from making the music that I loved.”
Our conversation eventually turns to the launch party in Pensacola and what he’s expecting for it. He’s noticed the recent shift in live entertainment from the traditional concert to the all-inclusive bonanza that you’ll see at Vinyl for the event.
“More and more, concerts are becoming a full spectrum of entertainment. It’s an interesting dynamic to be a small part of the whole. When all that creative energy is coming at you, it can be a powerful thing,” he says of the experience.There’s a common thread running through this entire event. Both Holifield and Webb are self-assured guys with an attitude that challenges the norm in a healthy way. The do-it-yourself spirit that they both possess brings promise to a city like Pensacola and proves that it’s positive to think outside the box every once in a while.
Photo: This is ART Official