(Original Photo By: Kerry Stoltz)
Over the course of one’s life, you’re going to come across a lot people. Many of them may come in passing, but every so often, you run into someone who you just connect with, who really has an impact on you. These unexpected acquaintances can become lifelong friends that can change the course of everything you do. That would describe the unlikely friendship of Dustin Musser, Dylan Lewman, and Malcolm Anthony – together they form the electronic hip-hop act, K Theory.
Based out of San Francisco, K Theory is one of the most prolific acts on the planet. They have literally produced hundreds of tracks over the past few years. Dustin and Dylan first came together in 2011, and they met up with Malcolm in 2013, giving those broken beats the powerful flows that define K Theory. Despite many obstacles including crummy jobs, fear of the unknown, and even the near death of one of their band members, K Theory has established themselves as a “can’t miss” live act and have not slowed down since their inception. Here’s what the guys had to say about their early struggles and where they came from.
Dylan: “One of my most profound memories was when I first fully committed myself to music 100%. I was working at Subway, Jamba Juice, and Starbucks simultaneously while taking electronic music classes at my community college and DJing in the Bay Area as much as I could. I was dangerously tired and spiritually depleted. School wasn’t thrilling for me, and I knew music was my only way out of this. At the time, I was only making $400 a month off DJ gigs. It was 5am & I had an opening shift at Jamba Juice an hour later; I texted my boss and said I’m never coming back, I’m giving myself to music and I haven’t clocked in anywhere since. It was extremely frightening at the time, but those kinds of risks merit the best rewards. A month later I met Dustin and we started K Theory on the first day of the New Year in 2011.”
Dustin: “I had been doing music for about six years before I met Dylan. I had several different attempts at projects and my main project, Frost Raven, had 600 releases of psychedelic trance and bass. I was living at my mom’s house and was at a crossroads with what to do with my music. It was either work at Pixar doing sound design for someone else or keep pursuing my music. When we started K Theory, Dylan convinced me to live with him in Berkeley and be fully immersed into the music. This was very scary for me, but it was the breath of life that I needed and really helped spark my music.”
Malcolm: “I decided to move out to California to pursue my career in music as things in Jersey kept hitting endless roadblocks, the environment wasn’t conducive to my growth, and if I didn’t leave I’d be dead or in prison like many of the people I grew up with in my neighborhood. I left Jersey with my manager at the time, and did a lot of cool shows in California with some big rappers. It felt like I had made it. Little did I know, my manager was taking all the money I was making and left me high and dry on my own in California. I hit massive lows, some nights I had nowhere to sleep or no food to eat, but I kept grinding on the music and eventually enrolled at LA Film School. I met some amazing people there and eventually got connected with Dylan and K Theory. For me this is my only option in life. It’s music until I die and this proved to be the strength I needed to overcome my obstacles in life.”
Even after joining together, the trio endured some obstacles. They all lived together in a house in the Bay area with very little money for rent and food, as they didn’t have too many gigs at the time. Malcolm lived in the living room, Dustin spent endless hours producing on a poverty level income, and Dylan was talent buying for Ruby Skye in San Francisco trying to offset the expenses they incurred to continue as a group. Later in 2013, Dylan contracted Leptospirosis from waterfall diving while the guys were on tour in Hawaii. It sounds innocuous, but it’s a pretty gnarly bacterial infection and Dylan remained in a coma for a month. Nevertheless, they persevered. Dylan finally recovered and the guys hit the road for their first 50-day national headlining tour in January 2014. This is when they realized all the hard work and sacrifice paid off.
“Despite the financial hardships, we found salvation in the music, in the experience of connecting with the fans, and traveling the country. The tour really helped define what we were doing & after years of persevering through struggle we are so blessed to say this our full-time job.”
You heard it…it’s the love they receive from all of you K Theory fans that keeps them going. When the grind of the creative process can wear you down, and with all of the other responsibilities that major artists have, it can be easy for them to lose sight of why they’re doing what they’re doing. K Theory explains an awesome fan interaction that helped to reaffirm that their music is making an impact.
“We were on tour in Hawaii in 2013 and a fan came up to Malcolm and started worshiping him as our song “Hero” had prevented him from committing suicide. That was a really beautiful moment. We didn’t expect much of that track and to hear that from him reassured us that we were doing good work with our music.”
The creative process can be daunting for many musicians and often brings feelings of doubt. Today, artists are expected to be multi-faceted creators with unique personalities and brands. To overcome these expectations, you must trust yourself, maintain your integrity, and find fulfillment in your art. Let these expectations go; they only hold you back. Like so many of us, these guys live for the music, and it is their joy to share it with the world. That’s why they’re releasing a free track every day this month to celebrate #KRISTMAS. These guys want to leave a legacy, like we all should.
“Nothing can beat the energy of music and having people from all walks of life connecting under your melodic direction. Music is the purest form of art in our opinion. It truly comes from nothing, and paints a beautiful aural picture for the listener, full of endless possibility and inspiration laced within the experience. We are going to leave a legacy of music to be discovered by generations to come. In four years we’ve released 300 songs and we have plenty more to come. We launched our label New Trinity Music Group and have signed 10 artists around the country; many from Malcolm’s hometown of Morristown, New Jersey to give their music a chance and empower them as artists.”
Sadly, there’s been a lot of violence in our country lately. Last week there was a mass shooting in San Bernardino, CA (home of many notable raves including Nocturnal), and 14 innocent people lost their lives. This interview took place just before the tragedy, but the guys in K Theory had some strong, positive, and inspiring words that relate to all of the brokenness in the world. I took some solace in them. K Theory is the embodiment of individuals overcoming adversity, finding common ground, and launching a platform to inspire others. I’ll leave you with this…
“When you start analyzing the world or even your own area, you inherently start noticing a lot of fundamental issues, and it can be stressful because there isn’t really a right answer for solving this brokenness. For us…it’s about finding the beauty in everything, from the shit to the shiny, and inspiring people around us in our community and those we meet on the road to live up to their highest potential. We hope to show other artists that it’s possible to be independent and have a career in music if you are honest in your intentions, and can persevere through this tumultuous journey. We’d like to see people look within themselves to find their true path and happiness, and not waste their lives or burden themselves with extra BS. You only live once. We want everyone to have the best time they can in life…to actually live and thrive. We’re working everyday to create a platform where we can connect individuals, help people heal, and inspire the world through our music. Broken beats for broken lives. #KTheoryOMG”