The music man

Renee Rosenow

Hundreds of people crammed into The Stones Throw a few weeks ago to see “Afroman” perform. What most people in attendance probably didn’t know was one of UW-Eau Claire’s own not only performed in one of the opening acts, but also organized the show.

Senior Kyle Sulerud, aka “Sully the Sultan,” is co-owner of Effit Records (Entertainment for Free Independent Thinkers) and rapper in the recently departed rap group “Eff’d Up.”

Sulerud said the whole process of setting up the “Afroman” show took about three months, adding it was one of the biggest music events that has taken place in the past few years.

“Not a lot of shows like that come to Eau Claire,” he said. “It was packed.”

Sulerud said “Afroman” wants to come back to Eau Claire in the future. Although there aren’t many big venues here, Sulerud doesn’t mind having performances at The Stones Throw.

“The Stones Throw had the best night they have ever had,” he said. “I don’t have any complaints about doing it there. It is the best in Eau Claire as far as I am concerned.”

Sulerud said his love for music started in 5th grade, when he first began playing trumpet. He came to Eau Claire because of this. However, he had a change of heart and departed from the band.

“I never stopped loving music; I just wanted to make a different type of music,” Sulerud said.

Sulerud quit school in the fall of 2005 and was one and a half semesters away from a communications degree. He started back in the fall of 2007.

“I basically wasn’t enjoying any of my classes and didn’t want to get trapped in a life where I graduated college and then went on to get a job I didn’t like just because it was the natural progression of things,” he said. “Now that I know what I want to do for a living, school is much more enjoyable.”

Sulerud said he is now majoring in business administration and public communications, with a minor in music.

Effit Records

The company was started in 2003 by Shawn Frohmader, aka “Fro Fo’ Sho.” Sulerud said he joined him in 2004, after Frohmader came up with the name and started producing

They met through the Eau Claire pep band, where both played trumpet. They started making songs and doing shows in Frohmader’s basement, and eventually started a rap group.

“I had messed around with rap before that time, but I saw the talent he had and we got along really well,” Sulerud said.

Sulerud focuses on the promotional side of the record company, while Frohmader handles the production of songs. Sulerud signs contracts with artists, usually for a flat amount, arranges a venue, places advertising and “does whatever else is required to put on a show.” Sulerud says promoters make money on the ticket sales.

“If there aren’t enough tickets sold, the promoter loses money, but everyone else gets paid,” he said. “It’s a risky business with potential for substantial losses and profits.”

Sulerud added how some promoters are hired by venues and the venue then takes on the risk.

Sulerud started to push things to the next level in 2007, when he organized a large musical event called Effit Fest. Sulerud said Effit Fest is a large gathering where hip-hop people get together with hippies and there is music for everyone to enjoy. He said 400 to 700 people camp out for an entire weekend of music. Last summer, Effit fest was in Osseo and two years ago it was in Black River Falls. Each year about 40 different performers put on a show.

“I haven’t figured out where it is going to be this summer or even if it will take place this summer,” he said. “But it is definitely something that I want to do again . Through the Fest, I found my love for putting events together and putting on big shows.”

Sulerud says he keeps rather busy with the record company, which he likes.

“A three day festival keeps me busy for a few months,” he said. “There is also a sense of pride and accomplishment when it is all over as well.

Not only does Sulerud work with music and attend class, but he also works at Charleston Customer Service in the call center. He sometimes makes business calls for music during his breaks at work, and then he will design fliers or rap all night. Other days, he will wake up for class and work on songs.

“I try to relax and get as much sleep as possible,” he said. He added he puts at least 10 solid hours a week into his music, but also mentioned the work can be scattered.

“Some days I will be taking phone calls and working on fliers all day, sometimes I might go a few weeks without doing anything,” he said.

Sulerud has also started involvement with Third World Promotions, a record company from the Twin Cities. Working together, Sulerud said Bizzy Bone from “Bone Thugs N’ Harmony” will be in Eau Claire on Nov. 22.

Eff’d Up

Sulerud said the group was formed in 2005. The group mainly performed and organized shows in the Eau Claire area, although he said they have done shows in cities, such as Milwaukee, Madison and Duluth, Minn.

“There were four of us, so it was nice because we could have only one of us do a song or have all four of us on a song,” he said. “This helped us to produce a lot more material and songs, and we didn’t have to have everyone there for a show.”

However, Sulerud said that the group recently had parted ways after their last show.

“I want to work on projects where everyone is accountable for projects and what they are doing,” he said. “There are no personal differences and they are still my brothers.”

Sulerud added that the members still do stuff together and make music with one another, just not under a specific title.

Sulerud said that the best thing about performing or putting on a show is having someone after come up to him to tell him they knew or could relate to what he was rapping about. He likes the fact that people will listen to the music and dance as well.

Sulerud said he doesn’t have a favorite show that he can remember as a performer. He said the more people there are at a show, the better it can be.

“I would say that most artists would agree that the more people that are there to feed off of the performance, the better the show is,” he said.

Sulerud added that even if there were only 10 people at a show, he still wants to put on a good show.

Down the Road

Sulerud said the music business is something he wants to continue to do the rest of his life, especially on the promotional side of things.

“Performing and rapping is more of a hobby,” he said. “I plan on making a living by putting concerts together and doing whatever I can as a promoter.”

Sulerud’s next goal is to get a live band together, after the break up of the rap group. He said in the past he had always done shows with a CD or DJ.

“Coming from a band background, nothing really compares to the energy and atmosphere you can get with a live band,” he said.

With the risks associated with music promotion, Sulerud nevertheless hopes to do what he is doing now, even on a larger scale.

“I’m learning more about how to stop losing money and start earning it,” he said. “It’s kind of like going to college and paying for your education. With every show, I hope to get better.”

As far as the financial side of things, Sulerud said he has poured a lot of money into his projects and music career.

“I still work at a call center, which is something I really don’t like to do,” he said. “I have lost quite a bit of money doing what I am doing.”

Sulerud summed up his music career by quoting Bob Dylan. Dylan said “A man is a success if he wakes up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in-between he does what he wants to do.”

Sulerud said he is not quite to that point yet.

“Every month I am doing more of what I want to do and less what I have to do.”