D.J. Edwards has spent the last two years bringing a diverse and talented group of South Carolina musicians to his record label, Real South Records. He and his team have created a roster that includes Upstate folk-rocker Darby Wilcox, the indie-pop bands Whitehall and Tom Angst, hip-hopper Abstract-That Rapper, veteran Charleston punk rockers Hybrid Mutants, and more, and he says his label’s goal is a simple one: Do everything the musicians themselves don’t do, whatever that might be.
“That could mean marketing,” Edwards says, “or distribution. It could mean booking shows. It could mean budgeting and organization. Ultimately, we’re just trying to be a liaison between the South Carolina music scene and the rest of the country.”
Edwards studied audio engineering at Clemson and worked at the university’s radio station, and during that time he took in the local and regional music scenes and noticed a harmful flaw.
“I felt like the music business in South Carolina was really lacking in foundation, and it was really difficult for bands to get off the ground,” he says. “There weren’t a lot of positive role models or examples around.”
And that doesn’t just apply to the business side of music; Edwards is talking about the racial and gender makeups of the state’s various music scenes, as well.
“I wanted to grow with a roster that represented South Carolina in terms of gender, race, and sexuality,” he says. “I really wanted to make sure that it didn’t wind up being a bunch of bands that were all straight white guys. And I feel like because I went to Clemson for audio engineering and worked at the radio station there, that gave me a lot of the skill set I needed to run a label.”
“Running a label” is a vague term; what Edwards really means is “everything from recording studio stuff to event organization to artist management; all of that. I just kind of have been navigating myself into this position for the past eight years.”
One of Edwards’ responsibilities is promoting his label and his bands, and he’s done both by creating a multiband festival called “Real South Rex Fest,” which will take place at Radio Room in Greenville on Saturday. In addition to Wilcox, Tom Angst, Hybrid Mutants, and the headliners, Whitehall, the schedule includes Charleston hip-hop artist Abstract That Rapper, the folk-punk project Haunters, and the garage-rock of Motel Glory.
The previous edition of the festival was held in Charleston, but Edwards says his goal is to have the event bounce from city to city across the state each year.
“I’ve been going to shows at the Radio Room since 2010,” Edwards says, “and they really are the venue that supports the local scene in Greenville.”
When it came to creating the lineup, Edwards says the criterion was simple: Invite as many Real South bands as possible. To his mind, every band on the schedule has something to offer to those who might aspire to make music for a living.
“It’s not just about letting people know about the label,” Edwards says. “It’s also about putting a bunch of positive role models on the front lines. As young artists who are involved in the music scene, to see them up onstage, it’s going to motivate people to give them goals to work towards.”
What: Real South Rex Fest, w/ Whitehall, Tom Angst, Darby Wilcox & The Peep Show, Motel Glory, Hybrid Mutants, Abstract the Rapper, and Haunters
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8
Where: Radio Room, 110 Poinsett Highway, Greenville
Info: 864-609-4441, http://www.radioroomgreenville.com/