Quick, where's the nexus of the Westside DIY music scene?
New Roads High School seniors Jai Chebaia, Ruben Radlauer and Robert Tilden couldn't answer that question either, which is why they started Lost Dog, a label and collective birthed largely out of admiration for the downtown venue The Smell.
When they're not in class, Radlauer and Tilden play in a handful of bands while also producing other local groups, which Chebaia manages. They've formed relationships with artists and venue owners all over the city to promote projects, but grew frustrated after trying to work with a number of Eastside labels. "No one was willing to work together," Radlauer says. "There was no room for collaboration, no room for anything to actually grow."
Now, they're taking things into their own, young hands.
They don't yet have a physical space (business permits are hard to come by when you're, um, in high school), but they're working on it. Currently, they define Lost Dog as a "social experiment" - more specifically, an artistic collective embracing a DIY aesthetic.
Going to a flush arts high school in Santa Monica has its perks: New Roads is supporting the project by lending monitors and other sound equipment, while fellow students are offering their skills as graphic designers, sound engineers, photographers, and musicians. Lots and lots of musicians.
So what if quite a few of them are under 18? Everybody's gotta start somewhere, and Lost Dog aims to be that somewhere. They've had luck unearthing some compelling local bands, and their roster currently includes eight artists, including Nocona, a self-described "Americana country punk" group that just played SXSW and are performing at this year's Stagecoach festival, and Party Time, a DJ with nearly 4,000 followers on SoundCloud.
"It doesn't matter what genre, we're just fans of music," says Tilden. "We're just music nerds who want to be involved in the scene."
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The collective also supports local artists: handmade T-shirts, pins, paintings and zines will be on sale at Lost Dog's events, as well as charity raffles of handcrafted posters for local bands.
But they also do a lot of philanthropic work, including at their kickoff show this Friday, March 21 at North End Pizza. The event is headlined by 88.9 KLXU favorite, So Many Wizards, and all proceeds go to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
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