“81355” is a Blessing!

There is something to be said about Indy’s music scene. Well, there is a lot to be said but if I were to choose one ‘something,’ it’d be that our scene has hustle. 

To be an artist and to vehemently go after that role as a career, is a feat unto itself. It often feels like there are more artists than opportunities and for many, art is still viewed as a luxury versus a societal necessity. To commit to this lifestyle and industry and to choose to do that in Indy, a place without a strong infrastructure to support culturalists? That’s why our culture scene has so much hustle. Because it has to. And I think that makes our artists all the more authentic and with some major staying power – because we’re willing to put in the work for the long haul. 

From “arts administrators” like me to sculptors and ceramicists, muralists and songwriters – this isn’t really the breeding ground to “make it” anymore (we miss you, Indiana Avenue). At least that’s not what we’re known for but maybe there’s a new narrative emerging. If you’ve heard anything about GANGGANG, you know that we know how brilliant our creative scene is and how we’re pushing to make that loud and clear. Well, now we’ve got another reason to shout from the rooftops of the brilliance of our creatives, and it’s called This Time I’ll Be of Use.

On the heels of Tiara Thomas winning a Grammy, Jay-Z’s Roc Nation signing R&B singer Maeta and hundreds of performing artists putting on an unprecedented show for NCAA’s March Madness, three more musicians from Indianapolis have some major news. 

They’ve been putting in work for a long time. Oreo Jones, Sirius Blvck and David “Moose” Adamson are mainstays in the local music scene. Together the trio makes up 81355, pronounced “Bless.” Signed a few months ago to a national record label co-founded by Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and The National’s Aaron and Bryce Dessner, the group recently released their debut album This Time I’ll Be of Use. The record is incredible. It’s consistent, captivating, moody and it tells a story. 

I had a chance to ask each of the guys one question each; here’s what they said. 

Photography by Polina Osherov. Special fx by the Bad Boys of AV. Cover design by Lindsay Hadley.

It’s been said that Indianapolis has more demand than supply as it pertains to talent and culture. As we all know and as proved by your success, our city is filled with incredible artists and creatives. However, there doesn’t seem to be an intentional effort toward, or infrastructure built around giving talented individuals a real shot at viability in their/your/our industry. Can you share your thoughts on that? 

Sirius Blvck: Indianapolis is a goldmine of talent. Indy artists through the years, ourselves included, have put in a lot of work to cultivate a supportive culture in the city. We’ve done that through creating relationships and providing space and growing those relationships to open up more space. Despite issues and setbacks that come about naturally in a community of people, we have grown, and the scenes have expanded beautifully. But there hasn’t always been support from those who have the keys or hold those seats at the table. There has been a genuine misunderstanding of the value artists and creatives hold within our respective communities. That’s why an out-of-state muralist with 50k Instagram followers can come into Indianapolis and do more than 50 paid murals in two weeks. But muralists who work and live in this very city – who don’t have the same internet clout – struggle to get work. The realization is here, though. Though late in the game, they now see that as an issue and are recognizing that needs to change. And there are more and more Indianapolis artists stepping out and seeing national support or gaining momentum in their own lane. Whether that be, music, food, books, sports, we are making a splash in the world in our own way. In my eyes, it’s only a matter of time before our accomplishments and voices can no longer be ignored. Someone showed me a quote last week from Kurt Vonnegut that said “I don’t know what it is about Hoosiers. But wherever you go there is always a Hoosier doing something very important there,” and I wholeheartedly agree. 

How have you navigated that support or lack of support in Indy? Who have you been supported by and whose job is it to support creatives such as yourselves? How can Indy do a better job at supporting our creative sector?

Oreo Jones: It’s taken some time and trust, but I feel that we’ve navigated support by being supportive of our community. Before we’ve ever touched a stage, we’ve watched from the crowd and learned from each other and our peers. We’ve slowly carved out our identity behind the scenes in the studio and venues along the way, learning and building with like-minded artists. That’s what this journey has been all about. Nothing happens overnight and it’s taken years for us to establish a voice here in Indianapolis. From the art galleries to the restaurants, the venues, all the unique organizations and artists we collaborate with around the city – everyone going against the current is our inspiration and “lifeline.”

As far as doing better to support the creative sector, my hope is that organizations and the people of the city are constantly evolving and recognizing the originality we have forged here. It’s cool seeing our own identity being carved out before our eyes and ears. With more and more folks moving to Indianapolis and its landscape changing, my hope is for people to learn carefully about the history of the rich music culture we have here. Respect it and cherish it, because a lot of places in this country aren’t as lucky. – Oreo Jones

What is the importance of this project for your careers? Can you share with readers the impact this has had and will have on your personal lives?

Moose (Sedcairn Archives): The music we’ve made together as 81355 gives me a mystical feeling that is hard to describe, but I think it basically means the tunes are special. So, it’s been really fulfilling to be a part of creating it, and since then there has been more focus on accomplishing specific things career wise. A lot of the career focus comes from Michael Kaufmann, who first suggested that we work on a full length together. The biggest impact I’ve felt so far was working on the video for “Capstone”. It was a dream come true to be involved with that level of video production. It reminded me of watching ‘behind the video’ shows as a kid. I think we’re all eager to see what happens next, and I know we’re all looking forward to playing this music live when we can. We’re cautiously hopeful. 

Much love to 81355 and many congratulations. This is beautifully major for Indianapolis and the stories we love to lift up. 81355 is another opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate our creatives’ contributions to our economy and our brand. Keep going guys and know that you’ve got the support of your city.    

More from Malina Simone Jeffers
Black Lives Matter: The Ally, Part 2
Well, here we are. America has found itself in the largest civil...
Read More
0 replies on ““81355” is a Blessing!”