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TNK x Metric Coffee Co: 2019 Reissue

As they have it, Tomorrow Never Knows Fest is a celebration of “rising local indie artists as well as acclaimed national acts, including both musicians and comedians… a city-wide event, uniting six independent venues.” From its 2005 inception onward, TNK has been an annual, persistent celebration in the middle of the most brutal season giving Chicagoans reprieve through music and comedy. This 2019 iteration was no exception. With nearly sixty acts over five days, TNK again had a little something to warm everyone’s heart this January. For us specifically, this year was extra special because 2019 marked our third year pairing with Auditotree to fill their TNK mugs.

TNK focuses on community and independence, making it an exceptional collaboration for Metric. TNK’s Talent Buyer Patrick wrote about these common priorities: “Unlike most cities, the Chicago music scene remains very independent and I think it's extremely important to highlight that.” Not exclusive to Chicago’s music scene, our coffee culture shares this independence-- Metric independently owned since its establishment in 2013-- and throughout our second city’s resilient roots. Look no further than our shared persistence through harsh winters (as I type this it feels -15). Speaking to that persistence, Patrick affirms that the promoters involved with TNK work very hard to bring Chicago a special experience during a typically slow part of the year” because they understand our communal hustle can’t hibernate.

As previously mentioned this is our third year with the privilege of caffeinating TNK fest. I asked Jud, Audiotree’s Director of Business Development and Sponsorship, why Metric?; he kindly responded, “we’re just fans of what Metric does… the Metric family has been really good to us over the past few years...As a company, [Audiotree] wants to align [itself] with cool companies doing great work, and Metric has always been that.” Such generous sentiment made us all the more stoked to re-up our partnership in 2019. We crafted custom pouches of a personalized TNK Blend (notes: milk chocolate, cashew, raisin) for each of the sixty acts.

[Metric's Harris Nash, @harrisnash, w. our TNK Blend]

Also, at the Audiotree owned venues, we were excited to take our partnership further in the form of a cocktail with a kick. “It’s hard to serve coffee at a late night show,” Jud qualified. “We’d met with Jess Salgado [Metric’s Partnerships and Projects Manager] and Mark Mann [Metric’s Director of Operations]...Creating a cool cocktail was a high priority, but we weren’t sure which direction it should go. Thankfully, we have a super-talented cocktail genius by the name of Adam Jevne…He created the idea of doing a White Russian, but infusing Deep Eddy vodka with coffee beans.” Priority achieved (read as, drank).

Such creative projects with an emphasis on cultivating taste and design reinvigorate us over here at Metric. The desire to work with “cool companies” is mutually present and part of why we love this specific relationship with Audiotree’s TNK Fest. Their humans, such as Jud and Patrick, put into action ideas of fierce independence and community. With it a week in the rearview, we’re still excited by 2019’s smash and are already looking forward to what 2020 has in store for all our fellow, resilient Chicago humans and us.

Music to Metric's Ears: A Conversation with Audiotree

“We just want to keep perfecting what we’re doing, ensuring that we’re giving artists a place to shine and to showcase their work.”

Nikki Hartel, Sponsorship and Events Director

If you’re active in Chicago’s music scene, you’ve probably heard of Audiotree. Audiotree is considered an “artist discovery platform” that focuses on uniting high-quality audio with high-quality video, and directs that focus to up-and-coming musical artists. At the core of what they do is recording studio sessions for artists at essentially no cost to the artist. Audiotree has been building out in other arenas as well; they live stream concerts in their Live from Lincoln Hall series, they record performances in their Shows from Schubas series, and they recently started a video series by the name of Far Out, which features bands and artists playing in unusual spots across Chicago--unconventional spots like Metric Coffee’s roasting works over in West Fulton Market.

“This was the brainchild of our crew,” says Jess McCauley, Talent Liaison at Audiotree. “A lot of the time, it’s bands we really like that we want to do something a little different with.”

Enter Liz Cooper & The Stampede. Being outstanding live performers who have already done a studio session with Audiotree, it proved a perfect opportunity to do a Far Out session. The crew rolled in and set up, Liz Cooper & The Stampede dialed in the sound and played for about an hour, and then everyone went on their merry way—all in the span of four hours.

“I think from a technical and conceptual standpoint, Far Outs have a different look and feel. They look a little more cinematic, they’re done in one take, and the audio itself is usually just polished over once,” says Art Director Austin Peters.

 

With Metric’s Happy Bones mural arching over the band and the roaster churning in the background, Liz Cooper & The Stampede’s performance is beautifully captured in this Far Out session. The songs “Motions” and “Fondly and Forever” sound just as stunning in the video as they did in person, and show exactly how the crew over at Audiotree is reinventing the magic of authentic, live music combined with stunning visuals.

Audiotree keeps its focus squarely on producing work to be proud of. They book sessions with artists that break the mold, or are bringing something new to the table. They split profits with the bands 50/50, which means that artists and performers not only get a well-crafted final product, but potentially actual financial gain from simply spending a few short hours with Audiotree.

“At the end of the day, if a band comes in and they wrote a badass song, they’re going to benefit from it, because they didn’t pay anything upfront to do it,” says Austin. 

The people of Audiotree are united by a few things: a passion for music, a drive to discover, and strong affection for Kalamazoo, Michigan. Kalamazoo, home to Audiotree co-founders as well as a handful of other Audiotree folks, plays host to the Audiotree Music Festival, this year expanding into a two day venture, September 22 & 23.

 “Audiotree started with the idea of growing it organically with good intention, and always benefiting the music because that’s what it was really about,“ says Austin.

 

 

Audiotree is a company rooted in ideals of partnership and producing something to be proud of. If you sub out “music” for “coffee,” their mission could almost be Metric’s own. The Metric-Audiotree partnership illustrates how coffee can intersect with so many different worlds. Sharing coffee seems just as natural as discussing music—and we at Metric are honored to have a relationship with people who are deeply passionate about what they do, and also happen to enjoy good coffee.

“It’s putting your kick-ass coffee in the hands of cool artists who are hopefully spreading the word, the love about your coffee. And we’re also selling it at our venues,” says Nikki.
 

“And consuming mass quantities in our own office,” adds Jess. “It’s really nice to be involved with a really cool company that has great people working for them and really take that relationship beyond just back and forth with business.” 

The truth is, it’s easy for a small company like Metric to partner with people who inspire us—people who are driven by excellence as well as a sense of fun, people devoted to moving forward without losing sight of what is important.

Take a moment to watch Audiotree’s Far Out session with Liz Cooper & The Stampede featuring Metric Coffee. Check out their website to discover new music, and catch up with old favorites. Do yourself a favor by following everything they’re doing, because people who love what they do and are constantly pursuing perfection are worth keeping up with.